Life

We Blind Taste Tested Reposado Tequilas, Including Kendall Jenner’s 818 Brand

Reposado really might be the perfect tequila expression. Aged anywhere between two months and 364 days, tequila reposado hits that Goldilocks zone between the rich deep character of añejo and the vegetal purity of blanco. It’s soft and highly drinkable, with a smooth flavor that isn’t so flattened out that you miss those bright and earthy qualities of roasted agave.

This makes “repo” the most versatile tequila, too — smooth enough to sip but distinct enough to not get lost in a cocktail. And it’s generally affordable, so you can shoot it if the occasion arises without guilt.

There are a lot of great bottles of tequila reposado out there and blind tastings have their limits (both because of palate fatigue and because of the buzz of the drinker), so we grabbed eight bottles we already know we like and put them to the test. “Blind” is more than a stunt here — Kendall Jenner’s 818 tequila arrives freighted with lofty award cred and a fair bit of controversy. Not seeing the label was essential to giving it a fair shake.

Ready? Let’s dive in!

Part 1: The Taste

Dane Rivera

For this blind tasting, I grabbed eight bottles of tequila reposado that fall within the $40-$70 price range, with the exception of one under $30 bottle that I threw in just to keep things a little interesting. Can the cheap stuff punch above its price and roll with these more prestigious bottles? It’s possible — we have a history of liking this brand.

Here is our class:

    • Espolon Reposado (our budget bottle)
    • Teremana Reposado
    • El Tesoro Reposado
    • Herradura Reposado
    • Solento Reposado Organic
    • DeLeon Reposado
    • 818 Tequila Reposado

Let’s get to tasting!

Taste 1

Dane Rivera

Tasting Notes

On the nose, I’m greeted by the pleasing notes of butterscotch that make way for a rounded honey flavor that slowly morphs into an oaky finish with a pronounced burn and a zesty final note. Lingering on the backend is the subtlest hint of melon.

Overall, an interesting journey of a first taste.

Taste 2

Dane Rivera

Tasting Notes

Really harsh on the nose, with a startling kerosene quality — this smells like… cheap tequila. On the palate that harshness disappears instantly, it’s surprisingly smooth with a medium body and notes of tropical fruit, grass, and caramel with a bright finish.

This one was full of surprises.

Taste 3

Dane Rivera

Tasting Notes

I drank in tastings of two glasses at a time and, once presented with this one, I could tell we had moved into a different class entirely. Taste 3 had a pleasing amber glow to it with a buttery aroma and a comforting caramel roundness on the palate. Incredibly drinkable, this tequila is smooth with notes of green olives and citrus, and subtle berry notes lingering on the tongue.

This one seemed a lock to rank highly for me.

Taste 4

Dane Rivera

Tasting Notes

Roasted agave dominates the aroma of taste 4 with a spiced pepper quality on the tongue that goes down surprisingly smooth, despite its initial burn. Notes of toasted almond blast you through a journey that carries you through layers of cinnamon, butterscotch, and vanilla.

This one has an unmistakable dessert quality to it — would go great in a cocktail, for sure.

Taste 5

Dane Rivera

Tasting Notes

Shockingly pleasant on the nose, this taste really brought me in, greeting me with notes of warm honey and fresh coconut. From there the palate goes through ripe cherries, agave, and cracked peppercorn before settling into a nice oaky finish. The flavors are focused and direct, hitting all the right marks from the nose, to the body, to finish.

Taste 6

Dane Rivera

Tasting Notes

Not very notable on the nose, this tequila presented itself off as a bit bland before hitting the palate, where I got notes of asparagus, citrus, and vanilla, with subtle echoes of hibiscus and other floral qualities. As the flavors linger they settle into a comforting baked caramel finish.

Quite a journey this one, it’s great but it doesn’t hit all the notes of the tasting before it.

Taste 7

Dane Rivera

Tasting Notes

This one is really sweet, with a noticeably darker color to it. It’s floral — with pronounced notes of cinnamon, maple, and sugar — with a confection-like quality to it akin to cotton candy. Notes of vanilla and butter finish it off and give it a great silky mouthfeel.

A pleasant drink, for sure.

Taste 8

Dane Rivera

Tasting Notes

Just when I thought my palate was likely exhausted, this one greeted me loudly with notes of vanilla, asparagus, green peppers, and olive. Highly vegetal with a lot of blanco qualities but with a strong vanilla counterpoint that keeps the flavors from being overly bright.

Part 2: The Ranking

Unfortunately, my ringer bottle stuck out like a sore thumb, but aside from that, the only real surprise comes near the end of this list. Regardless, once you get into the top half of this list, each bottle is deserving of space on your bar cart. This was truly a great class to blind taste test from.

8. Espolon Reposado (Taste 2)

Espolon

ABV: 40%

Average Price: $28.79

The Tequila:

I desperately wanted this one to rank higher than last place and, for the price, I still think this bottle performs well above what it typically shares grocery store shelf space with, but the off-putting qualities on the nose really pushed me away from this one.

Espolon’s tequila reposado is made using 100% Blue Weber agave and is rested for 3-5 months in lightly charred new American Oak barrels, giving it a pleasingly rich amber hue. It’s a great bottle of tequila, ideal for mixing in cocktails. It won’t be anyone’s favorite on character alone, but for the price, it’s definitely appealing.

The Bottom Line

The cheapest bottle ranked last — shocker! This was really close though, Espolon makes a fine bottle of reposado perfect for those nights when you have to pick up everything — booze, mixers, and limes.

7. Teremana Reposado (Taste 1)

Teremana

ABV: 40%

Average Price: $41.99

The Tequila:

Tasting’s one and two were incredibly close, the only thing giving Teremana the edge over Espolon was how pleasing the experience of drinking it was end to end. This one surprised me a bit, despite ranking so slow on this list. I didn’t think the Rock’s tequila would be bad, but I didn’t expect it to be this pleasant an experience.

Crafted in the Jalisco highlands where the agave is brick roasted for three days before shredding, Teremana is handmade in copper pot stills at the Destileria Teremana De Agave.

The Bottom Line

This one had a slight edge on Espolon, but given that the price is 50% higher, you’re really paying the premium for Dwayne Johnson’s name. It’s a good tequila, but I think its price tag is a bit inflated for what you get.

6. Partida Reposado (Taste 8)

Partida

ABV: 40%

Average Price: $55.99

The Tequila:

Made at the distillery Autentica Tequilera in Jalisco, and aged in used Whiskey barrels, Partida’s tequila reposado has a beautiful glowing golden color and a complex flavor that feels geared toward true tequila fanatics. Definitely not a bottle you bring out for people who have been newly introduced to the flavors of tequila. In a lineup of any other set of bottles, I truly expect this to rank much higher. But it was up against some tough competition this go around

The Bottom Line

A great bottle with complex flavors. Maybe not the best for people dipping their toes into the world of tequila, but if tequila is your spirt of choice you’re going to find a lot to love in this bottle. It’s brimming with character.

5. Solento Reposado (Taste 3)

Solento

ABV: 40%

Average Price: $69.99

The Tequila:

Hailing from the distillery Tequila Las Americas in Amatitan, Jalisco (along with 30 or so other white label brands), Solento is aged in American oak barrels for nine months which gives it a soft amber color and is notable as the only organic tequila in this lineup. This bottle has swept up multiple awards, including the silver at San Francisco’s World Spirit Competition.

The Bottom Line

The most expensive bottle on this lineup, you’re really paying a premium for that organic status. Considering how great a bottle Solento’s tequila reposado is though, it never feels like money wasted. From nose to body to finish, Solento’s Reposado takes you on a journey of comforting-yet-complex notes with a stunningly smooth mouthfeel.

4. DeLeon Reposado (Taste 4)

DeLeon

ABV: 40%

Average Price: $50.39

The Tequila:

Before this tasting, I was pretty unfamiliar with DeLeon’s reposado, so I’m glad to find this “new to me” gem. Crafted at the Destilería Morales (home to Tres Comas, which means this tequila f*cks), DeLeon uses 100% Blue Weber agave harvested in the highlands of Jalisco and gently aged in bold American oak then finished in French oak wine casks, leaving it balanced and remarkably smooth.

The Bottom Line

A great option if you’re looking for a tequila with a lot of natural sweetness and comforting warmth. DeLeon’s French oak barrelling ignites complex dessert flavors that are perfect for both slow sipping and for tossing in a high-quality cocktail.

3. Herradura Reposado (Taste 7)

Herradura

ABV: 40%

Average Price: $47.99

The Tequila:

Herradura is often created with introducing the world to reposado in the mid-’70s, so I fully expected this tequila to rank highly. Hailing from the Brown Forman distillery in Mexico and aged for 11 months in charred American White Oak barrels, Herradura is supremely smooth with a sweet finish. Truly a great representation of tequila reposado.

The Bottom Line

In this price range, Herradura is simply one of the finest reposado tequilas you can buy. It’s sweet and floral, igniting the senses before introducing its deep and complex character, providing a supreme experience from nose to finish.

2. 818 Tequila Reposado (Taste 6)

818

ABV: 40%

Average Price: $60

The Tequila:

It’s almost impossible to talk about Kendall Jenner’s foray into the tequila game, 818, without addressing all of the controversy surrounding it. A controversy that I think, for the most part, is kind of unwarranted — considering George Clooney, another huge celebrity that leveraged his image and reputation to help catapult his brand, Casamigos, to respected status, sold his tequila brand in a billion-dollar deal. I’m sorry, I didn’t hear about the farmers and underpaid and undervalued workers getting a kickback from that deal either, did you? If you have a problem with Jenner, you’re going to have to have a problem with Clooney, LeBron James, Dwayne Johnson, Nick Jonas, Elon Musk, the Breaking Bad buds, and every other non-Mexican celebrity who has ventured into the tequila or Mezcal game. (Even Solento Tequila is celebrity-adjacent, having been created by surf filmmaker Taylor Steele.)

While there are a lot of things that bother me about Jenner’s tequila — the on the farm ad-campaign with the broken truck window, the price, etc — I feel like a lot of the criticism aimed at Jenner comes from straight sexism and a general dislike of her family and their massive wealth. Venturing into tequila was easy for Jenner. Even by her own account, it was mostly a matter of hanging out in cool villas, testing brands. Moreover, if she fails it’ll be a speed bump along her career path, which drives people crazy. And I get it. It sucks for the small brands to have to compete with movie and TV stars. But she didn’t create this system, so if it infuriates you maybe investigate why she’s the straw that broke the camel’s back.

This is probably all beside the point because 818 isn’t likely to fail. In part, because Jenner’s massive cultural influence could make almost anything into a winner. But also because it’s damn good. We’ve been saying this for a while and it holds up here: celebrity cash grabs aren’t what they used to be — the rich and famous seem to truly care about presenting a quality product.

Context aside, I didn’t have high hopes for this tequila. It’s been sweeping spirit-tasting awards since 2020 but I imagined it would land squarely in the middle of this list. But I’ll say it: I was wrong. Don’t let angry user reviews on BevMo and TotalWine or Jenner’s involvement dissuade you from trying this. My hunch is that they haven’t actually gotten their hands on a bottle and they have a problem with Jenner. Or they don’t know anything about tequila.

At some point I even found myself enjoying this just as much as our number one pick, which made me a little uncomfortable because I know the tequila community is going to come for me with torches. If you’re one of those people, I implore you to try this and then get back to me. You’re going to be pleasantly surprised.

If you don’t want to support a celebrity-owned white-labeled tequila brand because you’d rather support something locally owned, more power to you. 818 is produced at La Cofradia, along with 67 (!) other brands, including Atalaje, Casa Noble, Cavas Agave, Don Primo, and La Hormiga. Better yet, here is a list of other women-owned tequila brands: Casa Dragones, La Gritona, and Satryna. Those brands don’t have a huge celebrity with a massive platform to help prop them up, they need the love. If 818 is deeply objectionable to you, vote with your dollars.

The Bottom Line

Tequila 818 is a fantastic tequila that isn’t worthy of its misguided hate and meets the expectations set out by its award-winning status. It’s nicely balanced between, with bright vegetal qualities and deep complexity with comforting characteristics of coffee and caramel, and subtle floral notes that dance on the palate.

1. El Tesoro Reposado (taste 5)

El Tesoro

ABV: 40%

Average Price: $55

The Tequila:

El Tesoro’s Reposado just might be my favorite tequila of all time. Made with traditional Tahona extraction methods at Tequila Tapatio (La Alteña), and rested in ex-bourbon American oak barrels for nine to eleven months, producing a translucent barely-there straw color, El Tesoro’s flavors are direct and focused, resulting in a tequila that is incredibly easy to drink while still offering the subtle complexity and character prized by a great reposado.

This tequila is supremely versatile, it’ll please the biggest tequila snob in your life and is a great first taste for someone who is interested in learning more about the character and flavors of tequila. You’ll never go wrong with a bottle of El Tesoro, and their tequila reposado is simply one of the best in the game.

The Bottom Line

Perfect from nose to body to finish — El Tesoro’s tequila reposado pulls you in with a smooth taste that takes you on a journey through complex flavors that ping-pong between warm, comforting, bright, and fruity. Easily the best tequila reposado you’ll find in this price range, and more than capable of competing with bottles that lean closer to $100.

×