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Our Aged Tequila Blind Taste Test Revealed Some Serious Surprises

Here at Uproxx, we run a lot of blind taste tests. It’s our favorite way to keep our taste buds on their toes (in this analogy, taste buds have toes), ditch our brand biases, and zero in on the senses — allowing us to be hyper-focused on flavors, textures, and smells rather than marketing. But sometimes our palates do get pretty exhausted. After your eighth sip of blanco tequila in a row, flavors start to blur together and notes get muddled.

In an attempt to remedy that we decided to mix it up for our latest blind tequila taste test.

Instead of sticking to a single expression, we’re throwing a bunch of random aged tequilas together, — reposados, añejos, extra añejos, blends, and even cristalinos — in an effort to keep things fresh, challenge our taste buds, and pick out the finest aged tequilas around. To add another layer of curiosity to the whole thing, we also decided to grab expensive bottles (over $100) and pit them against more affordable bottles (under $70) to see if we could find any gems that are flying under the radar.

Methodology:

Because we’re dealing with a mix of expressions that have different colors, I did this blind taste test completely blindfolded (usually we just have someone else pour the tasting out of view), which actually helped me to focus even deeper on the flavors, without getting distracted by the expression itself. I took a sip, recorded voice notes of my experience, and had my girlfriend bring the next shot.

All photos were taken after the tasting and all prices are for 750ml bottles.

  • Avion Reserva 44 Extra Añejo
  • Calirosa Tequila Añejo
  • Gran Centenario Añejo
  • Dahlia Cristalino
  • Herradura Selección Suprema Extra Añejo
  • Hiatus Tequila Añejo
  • Jose Cuervo Tradicional Reposado
  • Mijenta Tequila Añejo Gran Reserva
  • Siempre Tequila Añejo
  • Volcan De Mi Tierra X.A. Tequila

Let’s drink!

Part 1: The Tasting

Taste 1:

Blind Anejo
Dane Rivera

Warm and floral honey on the nose with a super smooth oaky flavor. A fresh cracked black peppercorn flavor rides on the backend alongside notes of fig and cooked agave.

From my notes: “You get a lot of oak on the aftertaste.”

Taste 2:

Blind Anejo
Dane Rivera

Rich chocolate with a pronounced sweetness that soaks into the tongue. This is a really pleasant slow-sipping dessert tequila. I’m getting some charred oak and an earthy roasted coffee bean flavor at the finish.

Taste 3:

Blind Anejo
Dane Rivera

In another league. My god, this is good. My voice notes for this tasting began with “nectar of the gods!” Floral honey and vanilla on the nose with a cooked agave, caramelized butterscotch, and molasses flavor that finishes with an oaky richness. You can really taste the barrel here, but not in a blunt and obfuscating way, it’s very fresh and natural, like walking through a woody glade in perfect weather and taking a deep breath in.

Taste 4:

Blind Anejo
Dane Rivera

After the fragrant aroma of the last three tastings, I’m almost shocked at how blank this is on the nose. I can faintly make out some melon notes, which I’m surprised to smell in an aged tequila tasting. This hits the palate with a lot of brightness and green vegetal flavors, a bit of grass, and some bell pepper.

The slightest barrel flavor hits the backend.

From my notes: “I’m really stumped as to what this can be.”

Taste 5:

Blind Anejo
Dane Rivera

Very rich on the tongue, it seeps into the taste buds like moist devil’s food cake. Chocolate and coffee dominant with notes of cooked agave, honey, butter, and molasses. This has a caramel coffee-like quality to it with a tingling spicy bite at the end. Very interesting.

Taste 6:

Blind Anejo
Dane Rivera

Sweet vanilla on the nose with lots of brightness and a fruity tinge. A bit of pineapple, a bit of melon. On the palate cooked agave and butter dominate with a soft and earthy roasted tea flavor, like genmaicha.

Taste 7:

Blind Anejo
Dane Rivera

After riding what seemed like a never-ending wave of delicious sips this one hit me like a truck. It’s assaulting on the nose, with a leathery flavor and an over-charred quality. The overall flavor is a bit watery in comparison to what came before, but I’m getting vanilla and honey with a harsh oak finish.

Overall this one is very muddled and unfocused. It probably works just fine in a cocktail, but on its own it’s missing the life and character of the tastings that proceeded it.

Taste 8:

Blind Anejo
Dane Rivera

Herbaceous on the nose with a slightly harsh oak body. Light notes of peppercorn, leather and bacon hover over some sweetness.

From my notes: “I’m not a fan of this one.”

Taste 9:

Blind Anejo
Dane Rivera

A fragrant bouquet of cooked agave, floral honey, and vanilla. This one goes down incredibly smooth showcasing a caramel-like body with spicy smoked notes on the backend. Very balanced, nothing comes on too strong, the flavors gently ignite your tastebuds before shifting from one to the next.

Taste 10:

Blind Anejo
Dane Rivera

A strange berry quality on the nose. I can sniff out some oaky qualities, but that berry scent really sticks out. The scent doesn’t translate to flavor though, this one stays in a dark chocolate territory with some gently smoked notes. A strange close, but a good flavor overall.

Part 2: The Ranking:

10. Jose Cuervo — Tradicional Reposado (Taste 7)

Cuervo
Dane Rivera

Price: $17.99

ABV: 40%

The Tequila:

It shouldn’t be a surprise that the cheapest bottle aged for the least amount of time was the weakest of this tasting. This one just really lacked a depth of flavor to it in comparison to the others. Jose Cuervo’s Tradicional line is a step up from the brand’s ultra-affordable Especial series, and is made from 100% blue agave cooked in traditional stone ovens and is produced at NOM 1122, Casa Cuervo. It’s smoother and more flavorful than you’d expect Jose Cuervo to be, but it just can’t stand against the competition in this list.

The Bottom Line:

It’s fine for the price, but no mid-shelf reposado is ever going to be able to compete with the complexity and depth of flavor of an añejo.

9. Siempre Tequila Añejo (Taste 8)

Aged Tequila Taste Test
Dane Rivera

Price: $59.99

ABV: 40%

The Tequila:

I was shocked to find this pricier bottle ranked so low. Siempre does everything right to make this añejo, the brand uses traditional stone and brick ovens, copper pot stills, and rests carefully selected plata in American oak ex-bourbon barrels for 12-36 months, and yet the flavors just don’t stand out here like you’d expect for this price point and level of craft.

This tequila is produced at NOM 1438, Destiladora del Valle de Tequila, which is home to 163 other brands of tequila, which might explain its overall lack of character.

The Bottom Line:

A good flavor, but for this price, you should expect more and will find it in even cheaper bottles.

8. Dahlia — Cristalino Reposado (Taste 4)

Aged Tequila Taste Test
Dane Rivera

Price: $34.99

ABV: 40%

The Tequila

Our second surprise of the ranking, I was shocked to find Dahlia, at $35 a bottle, landing comfortably near the middle of this list. Dahlia makes this tequila from estate-grown agave and produces it at NOM 1489, Destileria Leyros, where it is then aged to a reposado state before being finished with advanced charcoal filtration technology to remove the color and other impurities. The result is a smooth tequila that has bright tropical notes, a soft and smooth taste, and just a hint of oakiness.

The Bottom Line:

Way better than its price would suggest. Fruity, smooth, and smokey.

7. Hiatus — Tequila Añejo (Taste 1)

Aged Tequila Taste Test
Dane Rivera

Price: $68.99

ABV: 40%

The Tequila:

Produced at NOM 1137, La Cofradia, Hiatus ages its tequila for a full year in reclaimed American oak, resulting in a warm golden color that admittedly looks pretty damn great in a glass. I like a lot of what this bottle offered, it was very peppery and spicy but in comparison to what’s ranked above it, it came across as a bit too harsh.

Hiatus still produces a great bottle though and while it didn’t perform too well in a shoot-out, it’s a worthy bottle to enjoy with friends.

The Bottom Line:

Spicy and fragrant, but a bit too harsh on the backend to be truly great.

6. Calirosa — Tequila Añejo (Taste 10)

Aged Tequila Taste Test
Dane Rivera

Price: $69.99

ABV: 40%

The Tequila:

This tequila is responsible for the weird berry-tones on the nose that I was experiencing in Taste 10 and that translates to the color as well. This is by far the reddest añejo I’ve ever seen and that comes down to the fact that Calirose rests its tequila in red wine barrels for 18 months.

I have no complaints about this bottle, it’s great and it feels adequately priced for the depth of flavor you get.

The Bottom Line:

An añejo tequila rested in wine barrels that produces a softer and smoother flavor, and a distinct red hue.

5.Gran Centenario Añejo (Taste 2)

Aged Tequila Taste Test
Dane Rivera

Price: $26.99

ABV: 40%

The Tequila:

This is the big surprise of the ranking and had me questioning myself so much over ranking it so highly that I had to do an un-blind retest. This is good, way better than it should be for the price. Like the Cuervo Tradicional, this tequila comes from NOM 1122, Casa Cuervo, but where that tequila lacked flavor and complexity, this is full of it.

The tequila undergoes what Gran Centenario calls the “Seleccion Suave” process which involves the brand’s master distiller selecting the smoothest and best quality añejos before blending them according to a traditional process. That sounds great and everything, but that’s just marketing at the end of the day. Or is it?

Whatever they’re doing, they’re doing it right and this might dispel my bias towards distilleries that produce a lot of brands.

The Bottom Line:

Punches way above its weight. This bottle is a steal, here is to hoping too many people don’t catch on to that.

4. Avion Reserva 44 — Extra Añejo (Taste 9)

Aged Tequila Taste Test
Dane Rivera

Price: $173

ABV: 40%

The Tequila

As surprising as the battle of the under $70 bottle was, unfortunately, once we dip into the over $100 territory things get pretty predictable. The quality of flavor travels parallel to price here and while that is a bit of a bummer, any of these bottles is gift-worthy and will likely be one of the best bottles you have on your bar cart so long as it has tequila in it. With Avion Reserva 44, you might even keep the empty bottle for display.

This tequila is handcrafted in limited batches and claims to boast 44 unique flavor notes. While I found this one to be a definite bouquet of flavors, I don’t know that you’ll taste 44, but it’s so good you won’t stop trying. Aged for 36 months in American bourbon barrels, Avion Reserva 44 ships in a fire-polished crystal bottle with a really nice gift box.

The Bottom Line:

Delicious and good enough to gift. This is an aged tequila that is worth every penny but is still affordable enough that it won’t completely break the bank. Get it as a gift for the person in your life who appreciates well-crafted spirits, especially if that person is yourself.

3. Mijenta Tequila Añejo Gran Reserva (Taste 6)

Aged Tequila Taste Test
Dane Rivera

Price: $200

ABV: 40%

The Tequila:

This was my first experience drinking Mijenta and I’m pretty sold on the brand after this one bottle. Before we move forward I’d like to say that the top three bottles on this ranking were all neck and neck for the top spot so while this is ranked third, it’s a very high third place.

Produced at NOM 1412, Destiladora de Los Altos, Mijenta’s añejo is aged for 18 months in American White Oak, French Oak, French acacia casks, and cherry barrels in a limited run. The first batch of bottles consists of just 2,160 bottles, of which I have one. Nice! I can’t recommend this tequila enough, it has such a depth of flavor and an interesting fruity character that you don’t always expect from an aged tequila.

The Bottom Line:

Floral, fruity, smokey, so many things all at once. A true joy to sip.

2. Volcan De Mi Tierra — X.A. Tequila (Taste 5)

Aged Tequila Taste Test
Dane Rivera

Price: $1,900* (only available for bottle service/restaurants )

ABV: 40%

The Tequila

Let’s address the price first because I’m sure your jaw is sufficiently dropped right now. X.A., produced by Moet Hennesy’s premium tequila brand, Volcán De Mi Tierra, is only $1,900 because for the time being it’s only available at select nightclubs, venues, and restaurants. Bottle service is f*cking expensive, but if you’ve been wondering if you’ve been missing out on what someone like Dua Lipa or Jack Harlow drinks at the club, the answer is …yes and no.

On the one hand, this nearly $2000 bottle of tequila isn’t going to change your life if you drink it. It’s not even guaranteed to be your favorite sip of tequila ever. It doesn’t possess some magic that bottles less than half the price don’t have but with that said… it’s pretty damn great. This tequila is so delicate, so flavorful, and so interesting that it deserves a full-length article review, which we promise, we’re going to get to, but for now we’ll keep it brief.

This tequila is produced at NOM 1523 Agrotequilera de Jalisco — the only brand currently in production, bias re-confirmed — and is aged in American white oak barrels. It is a blend of reposado, añejo, and extra añejo tequilas made from 100% blue agave cooked in stone-brick ovens. Forbes has a list of everywhere the bottle is currently available, we can only hope for a retail release at a more affordable price soon.

The Bottom Line:

If you ever get a chance to sip this, don’t pass it up under any circumstance.

1. Herradura Selección Suprema — Extra Añejo (Taste 3)

Aged Tequila Taste Test
Dane Rivera

Price: $378

ABV: 40%

The Tequila:

Herradura is one of the best, fairly affordable tequila brands in business right now. There isn’t a single expression the brand can’t nail, but the top-shelf Selección Suprema series is on a whole other level.

Winner of 25 well-deserved gold spirit tasting awards from various competitions, this extra añejo is aged for 49 months in American White oak barrels this tequila is smooth as honey and presents flavors that never stop dancing across the palate, constantly shifting and offering something new with every taste. While the top three were neck and neck on this ranking, we’ve got to give the top spot to the one that made me say “nectar of the gods!” No other tequila has ever made me feel that goofy.

The Bottom Line:

It’s frustrating to see such an expensive bottle take the top spot but take comfort in the fact that this hefty price tag is actually worth it.

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