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Can Popular Reposado Tequilas Sneak Past High-End Añejos In A Blind Test?

Tequila has progressed light-years beyond the cheap shooters that dominate the American marketplace just a decade or two ago. That’s not to say there wasn’t great tequila out there back then (there always was). It’s more to say that we, as consumers (and specifically American consumers), are finally waking up to it.

Today, there are plenty of aged reposado and añejo tequilas readily available on any liquor store shelf. But they’re not all created equal, naturally — with some gems, some duds, and some great value picks. That’s where a blind taste test comes in.

For the taste test below, I’m pulling three reposado tequilas (aged two months to 11.9 months in oak) and three añejo tequilas (aged over a year). The point is to see if that extra aging really adds that much difference to the agave distillate. The tasting also introduces a bit of a “is there a cheaper bottle that can beat the big-ticket ones?” question. In this case, the reposados range from $20 to $70, and the añejo and extra añejos range from $130 to $350, which is a pretty big price variable.

Our lineup today is:

  • Codigo 1530 Origen Extra Añejo
  • Lobos 1707 Reposado
  • Familia Camarena Reposado Tequila
  • El Tesoro Añejo Single Barrel Mundial Collection: The Laphroaig Edition
  • Codigo 1530 Tequila Reposado
  • El Mayor Tequila Extra Añejo Port Cask Aged

Let’s dive in and see how these tequilas stack up!

Also Read: The Top Tequila Articles From The Last 6 Months

Part 1: The Tasting

Tequila Blind
Zach Johnston

Taste 1

Tequila Blind
Zach Johnston

Tasting Notes:

This has a deep nose with echos of vanilla, cinnamon, and sweet bell pepper. The palate is full of peppery agave spears next to a hint of caramel and thin lines of dried fig and prune. The finish is peppery with nice layers of vanilla wafers, nougat, and cinnamon spice cake.

This was a nice place to start but didn’t blow me away.

Taste 2

Tequila Blind
Zach Johnston

Tasting Notes:

This opens with a dose of sour cherry next to raw agave, plenty of spice, and a hint of old oak staves. The taste leans into agave with a sour cream vibe next to firewood and moss. That all leads to a rich black pepper spice with notes of sweetgrass, vanilla, and fresh honey making appearances.

This was okay, but a little light in the middle.

Taste 3

Tequila Blind
Zach Johnston

Tasting Notes:

This is just classic. The nose is full of freshly cracked black pepper over cottage cheese with a hint of vanilla and caramel leading to a sweet toasted agave note. The palate leans into the black pepper with a hint of clove and anise next to vanilla tobacco leaves and a hint of toffee with a buttery underbelly. The finish leans into the sweetness with a nice counterpoint of black pepper, dried chili pepper, and a dash of ginger.

This really feels like a true classic through and through.

Taste 4

Tequila Blind
Zach Johnston

Tasting Notes:

This opens with a classic note of tannic black pepper oakiness with hints of floral honey, soft vanilla, and dried fruit. The palate leans into the honey as the black pepper fades toward gentle chili spice with a fresh edge. Then the taste veers dramatically toward asphalt paper laying on a hot road with a deep tannic and almost iodine vibe. It’s bizarre and great at the same time.

This has to be the Laphroaig cask.

Taste 5

Tequila Blind
Zach Johnston

Tasting Notes:

The nose has a raw agave feel that leads to subtle notes of pepper, cinnamon, and clove with a hint of bar simple syrup. The palate is soft with a slight pepperiness but kind of washed out. The finish peters out too without echos of woody spice, honey, and roasted agave.

This is just okay.

Taste 6

Tequila Blind
Zach Johnston

Tasting Notes:

The nose is super dark and sweet with plenty of figs, plums, and dates (this must be the port cask finish). The palate edges toward a tannic old barrel vibe with plenty of sour red wine next to rich vanilla, orange zest, and a drizzle of salted caramel. The end marries the plums and spices into a plum jam with a good dose of sharp cinnamon and maybe a little bit of cardamom next to a vanilla-plum tobacco leaf.

What a nice pour. It was pleasant.

Part 2: The Ranking

Tequila Blind
Zach Johnston

6. Codigo 1530 Tequila Reposado — Taste 5

Codigo
Codigo

ABV: 40%

Average Price: $75

The Tequila:

This goes through a slow cooking process and a special tumbler made for the brand. Then this expression is aged in old wine barrels from Napa Valley, specifically French oak Cabernet, for less than a year before proofing and bottling.

Bottom Line:

This was just too washed out to stand up to the rest of the bottles on this list. That does, however, make this a good candidate for a shooter with a beer back.

5. Lobos 1707 Reposado — Taste 2

Tequila Lobos 1707 Reposado
Tequila Lobos de Sangre Azul

ABV: 40%

Average Price: $51

The Tequila:

Lobos 1707 comes from the southern Los Altos region of Jalisco (NOM 1460, Compañia Tequilera de Arandas distillery). The front end of the tequila-making process is pretty much the same — Weber, autoclave, ex-bourbon barrels, etc. — with the finishing on this one standing out.

After six months in bourbon barrels, this is aged in Pedro Ximinez sherry casks for a final rest.

Bottom Line:

This was very much in the “that’s fine” section of the tasting. It’s well-rounded and tastes fine but there’s no wow factor. I’d probably use this more for making cocktails than sipping.

4. Codigo 1530 Origen Extra Añejo — Taste 1

Codigo
Codigo

ABV: 40%

Average Price: $350

The Tequila:

Codigo comes from NOM 1616, just outside of Tequila, Mexico. The juice in the bottle is made from Tequila Weber agave and is slow-cooked before fermentation and double distillation. The spirit then spends six years mellowing in Napa Valley Cabernet French white oak barrels. Those barrels are then batched and the tequila is brought down to proof with local deep well water.

Bottom Line:

This was very solid. Looking at the price now, I’d have likely ranked it lower because it’s not that good. That said, I need to try this over a rock to let it bloom a bit in the glass and see what else is there.

3. El Tesoro Añejo Single Barrel Mundial Collection: The Laphroaig Edition — Taste 4

El Tesoro
El Tesoro

ABV: 40.4%

Average Price: $150

The Tequila:

This tequila from Jalisco Highlands is about that finishing barrel. Before the juice gets to that barrel, it’s made in old stone overs and ground with a stone Tahona wheel before open-air fermentation in old wooden tanks. After all of that, the tequila spends time aging in old Laphroaig barrels, which is one of Islay’s peatiest whiskies.

Bottom Line:

This was funky and weird. I really dig it but I need more time to love it. It’s a lot to take in thanks to that hardcore tar/asphalt vibe on the palate. Still, there’s a lot to dig into with this pour.

2. El Mayor Tequila Extra Añejo Port Cask Aged — Taste 6

El Mayor Tequila
El Mayor Tequila

ABV: 40%

Average Price: $130 (Coming Soon)

The Tequila:

This tequila is made in the Southern Highlands of Jalisco via autoclave and roller mill. There’s a long fermentation and double distilling involved before the hot spirit rests in ex-bourbon barrels for a spell. Finally, the tequila is re-filled into old Port casks for a final maturation before proofing and bottling.

Bottom Line:

This very much felt like it was trying to hook bourbon drinkers on high-end tequila. And … it worked. This is really good, deeply hewn, and keeps your attention from nose to finish as it takes you on a journey.

1. Familia Camarena Reposado Tequila — Taste 3

Camarena Reposado
Familia Camarena

ABV: 40%

Average Price: $21

The Tequila:

This tequila from the Southern Highlands of Jalisco is fairly modern. The pinas are cooked in brick ovens but autoclave (high-pressure cooking) and diffuser are used as well. The twice-distilled juice then goes into oak for 60 days before it’s proofed down with deep well water and bottled.

Bottom Line:

I can see why this is winning so many awards lately, it’s bold yet refined. There’s a real depth that’s also easy drinking. Plus, it just tastes damn good.

Obviously, this is my ultimate tequila value pick.

Part 3: Final Thoughts

Tequila Blind
Zach Johnston

Well, look at that! A cheaper reposado carried the day.

Moreover, that Camarena felt bigger and more refined that anything else on this list. It was a deeply structured tequila that felt as distinct as it felt classic. It’s just damn good stuff.

As for the higher-end pours, I think they all have their place. But, they’re not for the everyday sipping. That Laphroaig Cask bottle is still haunting and I can’t decide whether or not to dive back in or forget it forever. I am thinking about it, so maybe it’s already won the battle.

In the end, that Camarena was the true stand-out and unequivocal winner today.

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