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The Highest Scoring Añejo Tequilas From This Year’s International Wine & Spirits Competition

It’s spirit judging season which means it’s the perfect time to start amassing the finest bottles for your bar or to gift out as we approach the holiday season. And let’s face it, after this year, we can all use a drink. If you’re going to pour a glass, you might as well make it the best of the best, which is why we’re diving into the highest scoring bottles of Añejo Tequila from this year’s International Wine & Spirits Competition.

The IWSC’s judging panels consist of a diverse mix of experts pulled from over 30 countries, many of which are distillers themselves, giving the results that extra level of authority. Using a double-blind tasting method, the IWSC is able to get impartial opinions from its judges as each sample is pre-poured into a numbered glass before being delivered. Then, each spirit is judged by the whole panel in sync, resulting in group discussions and a decision by consensus as to which rank the highest.

The eight bottles of Tequila on this list all scored in the 90-100 range of the IWSC’s 100 point system. We’ve included tasting notes from the IWSC as well as links on where you can pick up your own bottle. Now let’s dive into the highest scoring Añejo Tequilas from 2020’s International Wine & Spirits Competition.

El Tesoro Extra Añejo (95 Points)

ABV: 40%
Distillery: La Alteña Distillery
Average Price: $100

The Tequila:

It’s not a surprise to see El Tesoro nabbing the highest score at this year’s IWSC and being the sole Tequila to take home the Gold Spirit award. El Tesoro has had quite a year, scooping up high honors from the most respected spirit tasting organizations. The Tequila is made from Blue Weber agave which ferments in wood fermentation tanks in an open-air setting. It’s then aged in ex-bourbon barrels for four to five years before bottling.

Tasting Notes (from IWSC):

“Leafy in style with cool herbaceous notes and some oak on the nose. Spiced strawberries, cherry bubblegum and big dollop of white pepper offers a delectable and well balanced mouthfeel. Very drinkable.”

Bottom Line:

With an average price of $55, El Tesoro isn’t exactly a tequila for just any occasion. It’s a fair priced bottle given its high honors and reputation.

Paradiso Extra Añejo (92 Points)

ABV: 40%
Distillery: Tequila Tapatio
Average Price: $129

The Tequila:

El Tesoro’s Paradiso Extra Añejo is beloved for its ultra-smooth texture, which is achieved by aging the tequila in ex-Cognac barrels. The result is a citrus-forward and silky smooth sipping Tequila with deep notes of chocolate underlying its unusually bright characteristics.

Tasting Notes (from IWSC):

“A charming scent of fresh strawberries and pomegranate fills the nose. Lean and green on the palate with a subtle hint of a light fruit salad. Well balanced and pleasant.”

Bottom Line:

Right now this one is a little tough to find in the states, but if you come across it don’t hesitate to pick up a bottle as this is one of the more unique Añejos on this list.

Satryna Cristalino (92 Points)

ABV: 38%
Distillery: Corporativo Destileria Santa Lucia
Average Price: £125

The Tequila:

If wildly ornate bottles that make you feel like you’ve stumbled upon some sort of ancient artifact is your thing, Satryna will feel like it’s handcrafted just for your unique sensibilities. Their aged Cristalino tequila is made using steam-cooked Blue Weber Agave sourced from Guadalajara. They let the agave reach between ten to 12 years of maturity, which is about two to four years longer than average. The juice is then aged for 18 months in American oak barrels before being fine filtered to attain its clear Cristalino look. The result is packed in a handcrafted French glass decanter and encrusted with metal foils in an aesthetic inspired by Día de Los Muertos.

Tasting Notes (from IWSC):

“Soft on the nose with a creamy and sweet texture. Strong hints of new American oak and quality agave make this a very well balanced easy sipping tequila.”

Bottom Line:

Satryna isn’t cheap, but of any aged tequila on this list, it’s hands down got the best presentation making it an ideal gift for a friend who enjoys the complexities of well-aged tequila and the natural brightness of quality agave.

Cierto Tequila Añejo Private Collection (91 Points)

Cierto Tequila

ABV: 40%
Distillery: Tequileña
Average Price: Currently Sold Out ($200-$400 range)

The Tequila:

Cierto’s Tequila Añejo Private Reserve — aka Cierto Añejo Black Label — is a tequila that embodies its name, which is Spanish for “true.” Rather than relying on high-pressure diffusers or additives to achieve enhanced colors, Cierto is crafted using fully matured agave hand-harvested where fifth-generation master distillers slow-cook the pinas. The Añejo is aged in ex-wine casks alongside oak barrels, resulting in a deep amber hue and a smooth mouthfeel worth savoring.

Tasting Notes (from IWSC):

“Butterscotch and herbs tantalize the nose. Sweet agave and the well-judged oak reveal an elegant character and bring a savory, yet delicate balance to the mouth.”

Bottom Line:

We’re into the pricey territory here, so while we don’t recommend blindly buying a bottle of Cierto right now, it makes an ideal bottle for serious sippers.

Cierto Tequila Extra Añejo Reserve Collection (91 Points)

Cierto Tequila

ABV: 40%
Distillery: Tequileña
Average Price: Currently Sold Out ($200-$400 range)

The Tequila

Yet another bottle from Cierto, this Extra Añejo is made from matured highland agave from Jalisco that’s aged in oak for four to five years. This bottle is part of Cierto’s silver-labeled Reserve Collection which is set to be priced a little bit higher than the black-labeled Private Collection. It’s made to be sipped neat or accompanying a decadent dessert. Cierto’s Extra Añejo offers a superiorly smooth natural tequila that pays homage to the agave of Jalisco.

Tasting Notes (from ISWC):

“An excellent example of well-balanced agave and oak flavors. Salted caramel popcorn entices the nose while ripe agave drives the palate. A big splash of honey at the finish.”

Bottom Line:

We imagine we’re going to be seeing a lot of Cierto in the coming years as the brand begins to dominate the tequila space.

Cierto Tequila Añejo Reserve Collection (90 Points)

Cierto Tequila

ABV: 40%
Distillery: Tequileña
Average Price: Currently Sold Out ($200-$400 range)

The Tequila:

In the two years since Cierto has arrived on the scene, it has been scooping up spirit tasting awards left and right, grabbing an unprecedented nine awards at San Francisco’s 2020 World Spirits Competition. Right now there isn’t a ton of information on this tequila out there. As previously mentioned, the bottles are set to be released in January 2021. But given that every expression made by Cierto is being suffocated with accolades, we can’t wait to get our hands on a bottle to give our first impressions.

Tasting Notes (from IWSC):

“A lovely balanced nose highlighting attractive agave and the subtle oak. Soft vanilla and agave flavors fill the mouth, while the hint of menthol prepares you for a warming finish.”

Bottom Line:

Like the other bottles of Cierto, you won’t be able to find this bottle anywhere just yet. But when it does drop, it’s sure to top our lists as one of the finest sipping tequilas on the market if its reputation is to be believed.

Expresiones Del Corazon Sazerac Rye Añejo (90 Points)

ABV: 45%
Distillery: Tequila San Matias de Jalisco
Average Price: $87.99

The Tequila:

Expresiones Corazon Sazerac Rye Añejo is made using brick oven roasted agave fermented in open-air stainless steel tanks. It’s then aged in used Sazerac whiskey barrels for 19 months resulting in an unusually light-colored Añejo with a pronounced whiskey and cracked pepper aroma.

Tasting Notes (from IWSC):

“Warming, freshly baked aromas of cherry almonds and caraway seeds. The mouthwatering bitterness of sour plums combined with vanilla give a delicious balance.”

Bottom Line:

At almost $90 a bottle, this is the high priced end of the spectrum but isn’t quite hitting the territory occupied by Strayna or Cierto. It feels like it’s worth a shot, considering its accolades.

Expresiones Del Corazón Thomas H. Handy Añejo (90 Points)

ABV: 40%
Distillery: Tequila San Matias de Jalisco
Average Price: $82.99

The Tequila:

Another bottle for the whiskey lovers! Expresiones Del Corazon Thomas H. Handy features Corazón Tequila’s Blanco tequila is made with a process that stretches back 130 years. It’s then aged in Thomas H. Handy whiskey barrels for 19 months at the Buffalo Trace distillery, resulting in a light golden tequila that is said to sport a long and warm finish that plays nicely on the palate.

Tasting Notes (from IWSC):

“Floral with a big chunky pineapple character. Spicy and sweet with slightly overripe undertones. A mix of vanilla, caramel and pear drops gives this an appealing finish.”

Bottom Line:

This is a high quality sipping tequila that brings together the best of both worlds from the tequila and whiskey world.

Milagro Añejo (90 Points)

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Cracking this bad boy Anejo! #milagroanejo

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ABV: 40%
Distillery: Tequilera Milagro
Average Price: $39.99

The Tequila:

This is made using estate-grown blue agave harvested from the highlands of Jalisco. Those pinas are slow-roasted in a hand-built brick oven for 36 hours and fermented in open-air stainless steel tanks. To achieve the Ańejo, Milagro ages its tequila in American oak barrels from anywhere between 14 and 24 months, depending on the batch. It’s then bottled in a tall sleek bottle that shows off the tequilas amber hue.

Tasting Notes (from IWSC):

“Big creamy aromas of toffee and vanilla beguile the nose while buttery agave on cornbread seduces the palate. A generous whack of oak rounds the immense flavors up.”

Bottom Line:

At just $40 a bottle, Milagro is one of the best tasting Añejos you can find for the price. That makes it an easy bottle to buy for any occasion.

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