Tequila is a subtle spirit that’s gone through a big transformation over the past decade and a half. In the early 2000s, tequila was mostly consumed by people living in the US as a simple shot. It was something you grimaced through. Today, many tequilas are something to be savored, much like fine whiskeys. Special aging processes, attention to terroir, and sustainable farming have all combined to take the spirit to new heights.
As with all booze, there are the bottles that get the job done and then there’s the good stuff. This list is all about the good stuff. This is where process and aging truly define what’s in the bottle and, yes, how much that bottle costs. The bottles of tequila we’re highlighting define the style and deserve a spot on your shelf. But be warned: Though the spirits themselves won’t make you cringe anymore, their prices very well might.
Partida Blanco Tequila
Partida Blanco is a fine spirit. The gentle nature of the taste comes as a bit of a surprise, making it almost too easy to drink. There’s a real sense of agave here. You feel the plant and taste it fully with a hint of fire roasting still echoing in the background.
This is also a fairly light tequila. It’s not overly dense or oily. It’s smooth and full of Mexican sun, and you can’t help but love it. Try it on its own first then make a margarita or tequila soda with it and you’ll never look back.
Seleccion Arte 1414 Reposado
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Tequila Tuesday: The One That Marries Tradition With Modern Innovation. The ArteNOM Tequila family does something that no other does. By bottling Tequilas from various distilleries, they are allowed to choose the best of the best and provide an experience like no other. Selección ArteNOM 1414 is made using both traditional and modern techniques, including the use of naturally occurring yeast from the agave plant. New Year? Sounds like the perfect time to try a new tequila. Ask your server about ArteNOM 1414. We’d love to tell you more! #tequilatuesday #tequilatuesdays #tequila #mexico #artenom #artenom1414 #seleccion1414 #bonegardenatl #bonegarden #bonegardencantina #atl #atlanta
This slightly aged Reposado has a very balanced taste and feel. That slight aging adds a mild dimension of wood to the agave. There’s a light sweetness that leans a little citrus.
You can feel the Jalisco Highlands in this drink. There’s a brightness here that doesn’t overpower your palate when it hits your tongue (that’s a good thing). While you can sip (or shoot) this tequila, it also makes for a mean tequila old fashioned with a little agave syrup in place of the simple bar syrup.
Montelobos Mezcal Joven
Mezcal is finally having its day. The proto-tequila tends to lean into the agave cactus more heavily. This gives the style a distinct earthiness that starts to get smokey.
There’s a real sense of the huge clay oven that roast the agave here. You can almost sense the stone mills that crush the juices from the agave deep in the DNA of this spirit. There’s a hint of spiciness that bursts in a floral brightness at the end. It’s complex, yet subtle.
Casamigos Tequila Anejo
Casamigos is probably best known as George Clooney’s signature tequila, which the actor sold off in a billion-dollar deal. Well, there’s a good reason that that brand sold for so much — they make a damn fine tequila.
Their Anejo is a well-balanced tumbler of earthen agave, blended with an oaky vanilla essence and sharp spiciness. The 14 months in the barrel help to whittle the harsher edges down to an almost whiskey-like subtly. This one is just easy to drink with an even keel of complexity. It’s a great bottle to have on hand.
Milagro Reposado Select Barrel
Milagro makes a fine line of tequilas. Their Select Barrel series shine very brightly amongst that line. The Reposado is a lightly aged masterpiece that’ll turn anyone on the fence about high-end tequila into true believers.
The drink has a mellow oak vanilla edge that serves as a foundation for a white pepper, cinnamon, and agave house of flavor. Every aspect of this tequila shines without overreaching. It’s balanced, easy to sip, and straight delicious.
Cazadores Tequila Extra Anejo
Cazadores is another great go-to tequila to have around. Their higher end bottles do not disappoint in that regard whatsoever.
Cazadores Extra Anejo spends three years in the barrel. As it settles, the drink mellows into this beautiful sip of vanilla, Christmas spice, almost sour fruit, and earthiness that’s gorgeous. Add in the fact that this is a very light and almost airy tequila and you’ve got yourself a winner.
Herradura Scotch Cask Finish
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Aging tequila in old Scotch whisky casks is a dream come true for both whisky and tequila lovers. The aging process brings a depth to the tequila that simply wasn’t there before, making this process new and fun territory.
The Scotch Cask Finish gives this one an underpinning of honey sweetness that gives way to a burst of florals, ripe stone fruits, and a sherry edge. This feels like the future of tequila — a future where anything is possible and complex flavors rule the roost.
Don Julio 1942 Anejo
Now we’re getting into the heavy-hitters. Don Julio 1942 is one of the smoothest tequilas you’ll ever drink. The year it spends in the oak transforms a standard Blanco into a masterpiece.
There’s a sense of simplicity here. The vanilla from the oak is just there. The fire from roasting the agave is subtly there. There are spices, honey, and blooming florals whispering in the background. Nothing overpowers, everything blends. This, truly, is the tequila that’ll make you go, “Ah! That’s what good tequila tastes like!”
Jose Cuervo de la Familia
Many of us have probably had our fair share of Jose Cuervo shots. The brand dominates the U.S. market and is ubiquitous in nearly every bar across the world. Far fewer of us are lucky enough to have sipped upon Jose Cuervo de la Familia. That needs to change.
de la Familia is a revelation. The ultra-smooth spirit hits the beauty of roasted agave with such precision that you’re transported to a sunny and cool blue agave field high in the Jalisco mountains. There are few tequilas this well aged that stay this damn good. The wood adds to the agave essence without distracting from it. There’s a brightness at play that simply puts a smile on your face.
Don Pilar Extra Anejo Tequila
Don Pilar is one of the best bottles of booze on the market that still costs less than $200. The 36 months of aging in white American oak is augmented by another four months in French Limousin oak. That finishing makes this one of the more velvety drinks out there.
This one sips like a very fine whiskey or rum. It’s a ray of sunshine, a transport to an agave field, a bouquet of freshly cut wildflowers, and a dash of bright fruits. That’s all tied together with a velvety oak and vanilla finish. This tequila feels like the softest elixir you’ll ever drink. Our advice, don’t pass up any chance you get to give it a sip.