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In the Best Blanco category, Playa Real Silver earned top spot. Following behind in the gold spot is Prospero Tequilas Blanco. Silver winners include Satryna Blanco, Tequila Ocho Plata, and Volcan De Mi Terra Blanco. At the bronze level Lunazul El Humoso and Cierto Tequila Private Collection Blanco.
Cierto Tequila had a good showing at this years awards. In addition to earning top nods in the annual competition, Cierto Tequila walked away with seven additional awards: Best Extra Anejo, along with one Gold medal, two Silver medals, and two Bronze medals.
The Best Reposado is 818 Reposado. In the gold category, Corazón Tequila Reposado and Cierto Tequila . Playa Real Reposado, Prospero Tequila Reposado and Lunazul Reposado placed silver.
Cierto Tequila also cleaned up well at the 2020 San Francisco World Spirits Competitionthe brand took home a total of nine medals at the prestigious awards, including Best in Class. Cierto Tequila produces 100% natural tequilas in the highland region of Jalisco. Cierto is owned by the Elevated Spirits Company.
How is tequila as a category faring in the time of Covid-19? The countrys beer industry has falteredMexico shut down all non-essential industries in March.
Beer production slowed, but tequila industry authorities were able to get the spirit categorized as an agricultural product .
The IWSR noted that US sales of tequila grew 36% by volume between 2015 and 2019.
Percent Blue Weber Agave
When shopping for tequila, look for these words on the bottle. It is easier than ever to find them because almost every tequila brand has realized that this is what drinkers really want.
Blue Weber is known as the most elegant expression of tequila. While tequila falls under the mezcal category, several distillers around the town of Tequila began distilling a superior form of mezcal. They used the whole heart of blue agave, which is indigenous to the region, describes Brian Olson, the founder and owner of Café Intermezzo.
Best Reposado: Olmeca Tezn Reposado Tequila
Los Altos is a region of Jalisco, Mexico thats known for producing some amazing tequilas. Its home to the Olmeca Distillery, the makers of Tequila Tezòn. While all of the tequilas are very enjoyable, the brands reposado is superb.
Reposado tequilas are aged for three to nine months, so theyre gently rested and pick up a perfect amount of oak flavors. Tezòn also uses a tahona wheel to extract the juice from the agave, which is an old-fashioned approach that leads to a truer taste. The result is one of the best reposado tequilas on the market and one that anyone will enjoy drinking in any way they please.
Bottle Size: 750 milliliters | Tasting Notes: Roasted agave, leather, pickles | ABV: 40% | Region: Jalisco
Reposado tequila is a great middle-ground for cocktails. The mellow aged flavor can make them a fantastic choice for palomas, tequila sodas, or on the rocks. Blaze LaRoe, Beverage Director at Chikatana
Before the tequila boom of the last couple of decades, gold tequila was almost the only choice at many liquor stores. This category is a mixto meaning that its distilled from agave plant varietals other than the famous blue Weber. While gold tequilas are not as popular as they once were, theres something appealing about their caramel taste and low price. Youll want to be smart about which to drink, and Two Fingers Gold Tequila is one of the best in this category.
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Best Overall: Fuenteseca Cosecha 2018
Region: Jalisco, Mexico | ABV: 45.7% | Tasting Notes: Cinnamon, Olive, Brine
This tequila is a cult favorite among experts, as Yana Volfson, the beverage manager at Cosme and ATLA restaurants in New York, calls it beautiful. Enrique Fuenteseca, the farmer and distiller behind the bottle, chooses the ripest agave in his own estate, subjects the piñas to the autoclave-and-roller mill treatment, and lets the pot-distilled spirit rest in stainless steel tanks afterward for three years. The resulting blanco, says Grover Sanschagrin, is super heavy on the cinnamon, olive, and brine notesits just amazing. Perfect for tequila aficionados, the limited-production Fuenteseca Cosecha 2013 is a worthy collectible.
Don Julio 70 Aejo Claro
Liquor.com / Tim Nusog
One of the first cristalino expressions to hit the market, this tequila was released in 2011 to commemorate founder Don Julio Gonzalezs entry into tequila making 70 years earlier. The liquid is aged for 18 months in American white oak barrels before being charcoal-filtered to remove its color. This premium tequila is best enjoyed neat or on the rocks, and when you take a sip, you can expect notes of vanilla, honey and toasted oak alongside green herbs and minerals. But if youd like to mix Don Julio 70 into a cocktail, the brand suggests a simple drink of cristalino tequila and sparkling water, served tall with ice, to preserve the spirits integrity.
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Tequila Must Be 100% Agave: True
In addition to being produced in specific regions of Mexico, tequila must be 100% agave blue agave, to be exact. And something not many people know is that Mexicos agave landscape is recognized as a World Heritage site by UNESCO.Differences in the flavor come from the aging process, from blanco to extra añejo . The aging process adds depth and complexity to the spirit.
Whats The Proper Way To Taste Tequila
Shooting tequila with lime and salt is a hard habit to break. But in truth, thats no way to appreciate this complex and nuanced spirit. To drink tequila like a real connoisseur, follow these simple guidelines.
- After pouring about 1 ounce of tequila in a brandy snifter, hold the snifter at the base . Appreciate the color of the tequila by raising the snifter to eye level.
- Swirl the tequila gently to the left for about 1 minute. Does the tequila cling to the side of the glass before falling slowly to form whats called the string of pearls effect?
- After taking a small sip, keep the tequila between your lips and tip of your tongue for about 10 seconds. Swish the tequila around the inside of your mouth before swallowing. Let the flavors come to you.
Whats most important is to find out which tequila you like best. That way, whether you mix tequila into a margarita or drink it straight, youll always be satisfied. When sampling tequila, pay attention to what kind of tequila youre trying. Here are the primary kinds of tequila:
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For Your Sipping And Mixing Pleasure
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Whether you’re looking to take some tequila shots with friends or mix up some delicious margaritas or cocktails, finding the perfect tequila can be a tedious search. The important thing is, you want to find a tequila that you can savor no matter how you’re using it. With so many on the market, it can seem impossible to find one that’s right for you.
So without further ado, here are the best tequilas to satisfy your needs on any drinking night.
Technically, a margarita is just a soura cocktail family comprised of a base spirit, a sweetener, and some citrus. Sours stand the test of time and trend because theyre refreshing and easy to execute. But a cocktail with so few ingredients requires each ingredient to hold its own. You dont need to spend a lot of money, but you do want quality.
To make a good margarita , your base spirit should be easygoing, but not wimpy. It should bring some personality to the table without stealing the show. For those reasons, Cazadores Tequila Blanco is one of the best tequilas for margaritas. With notes of basil and lemon blossom, its great for sipping, too, but it is especially well-suited for your margarita thanks to its freshness, roundness, and agave character.
Cdigo 1530 Rosa Tequila
Smooth and delicate, Código 1530s Rosa Tequila makes for perfect after-work sipping, or used in a hand-crafted cocktail. Produced using the tequila-making traditions of the Los Bajos region and its tequilieras, the tequila is meticulously aged inFrench White Oakred wine barrels from Napa Valley. That gives the Rosa a subtle pink hue, and a sweet yet dry finish.
Country singer George Strait is an investor in the brand, and even wrote a song inspired by the tequila off his 2019 album, Honkey Tonk Time Machine.
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Milagro Select Barrel Reserve Anejo
From the highlands of Jalisco comes this premium line of tequila, from 100% estate-grown agaves.
“By law all tequila must be distilled twice, however a select few choose to distill a third time, like this one,” said Jimenez. “This expression is aged three years in French white oak barrels that have been heavily roasted. The result is a rich amber color tequila with some soft and well-integrated oak on the nose, and on the palate cinnamon spice and white pepper.”
Let’s Talk About Aging Tequila
The amount of aging and the amount of agave used to make a tequila are what create the different varieties. Each variety has a different type of flavor, aroma, and price point.
These are blanco, reposado, añejo, and extra añejo.
Keep in mind that añejo doesnt mean best, it just means oldest. If you prefer the flavor of blanco, then buy blanco. Extra añejos are often the most expensive tequilas.
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El Tequileo Reposado Rare
Founded in 1959 in the pueblo magico of Tequila by Don Jorge Salles Cuervo, the La Guarreña distillery continues under Don Jorges grandson, Jorge Antonio Salles. This intense, woody reposado is fermented in cement tanks, cooked with copper pot stills, and aged six years in giant wooden tanks, making for a truly rare high-end reposado. The extra time and production methods yield big natural vanilla, caramel, and spice flavors and aromas.
Best For Sipping: El Tesoro Aejo
Courtesy of leesliquorlv.com
Region: Jalisco, Mexico | ABV: 40% | Tasting Notes: Citrus, Spice, Brown butter
Like any fine spirit served neat, a good sipping tequila should be smooth, velvety, and nonabrasivebut, simultaneously, should still taste like tequila, rather than trying to mimic the characteristics of whiskey, or vodka, or anything else.
The añejo from El Tesoro is a classically-styled tequila that checks all those boxes: it’s soft and silky, a result of two to three years of aging in American oak ex-bourbon barrels, but it’s not as flush with caramel or vanilla as certain añejos that receive a more heavy-handed aging treatment. Consequently, the flavor of the agave really comes throughno surprise for a brand that prides itself on traditional production methods, from crushing the agave with a volcanic stone tahona to fermenting in open wooden vats with ambient yeasts. The El Tesoro añejo is an ideal choice the next time you’re craving the vibrancy of raw agave character without wanting to bother with ice or with lime.
Region: Jalisco, Mexico | ABV: 46% | Tasting Notes: Cinnamon, Olives, Grapefruit peel
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Best Overall: Tequila Ocho Plata
Courtesy of Drizly.com
Region: Jalisco | ABV: 40% | Tasting Notes: Pepper, Citrus, Grass, Stone fruit
The beautiful story and unique process behind this tequila really help it shine, says Chasse. The family that makes Tequila Ocho Plata has been distilling for generations. They use traditional brick ovens to slow-roast extremely ripe agave, which is chosen from specific fields each year, so that the nuances of the terroir and weather come out, especially in the blanco.
It changes depending on the field and year, says Chasse, but in general, it offers crisp, clean peppery notes, bright citrus and grassy flavors, along with the fruitiness of the extra-ripe agave. The finish also offers a nice balance between floral and earthy notes.
Good to Know: How should you drink a sipping tequila? Hurley and Chasse suggest trying it neat in a tequila glass . Add a few drops of water to open up the flavor. Medina prefers to sip his aged tequila in a snifter with one large cube of ice, which melts slowly, keeping the spirit cool but not diluting it.
Best Under $: Los Arango Blanco
Region: Guanajuato, Mexico | ABV: 40% | Tasting Notes: Vanilla, Agave, Herbs
Produced at Tequilera Corralejo in the state of Guanajuato, Jaliscos eastern neighbor, Los Arango Blanco is made with agave steamed relatively quickly in a high-pressure autoclave, then crushed with a roller mill, and distilled in a copper pot. Its one of the best blancos on the market, and at a great price, says Stevie Latona, bar manager at San Diegos Lionfish restaurant. Along with vanilla notes, the toasted agave and fresh herb flavors, he says, create a soft, smooth taste on the rocks or in a cocktail, its one of my go-tos.”
Region: Jalisco, Mexico | ABV: 40% | Tasting Notes: Cherry, Mint, Pepper
A NOM is a number used to indicate the distillery in which the tequila is made. To produce this special bottle of ArteNOM, distiller Jake Lustig teamed up with the Camarenas, the family that owns and operates NOM 1579, Jaliscos Destileria el Pandillo. Brick-oven, steam-roasted agave is crushed by a special tahona called Frankenstein, jerry-rigged out of scavenged parts: a junkyard cylinder and an old train wheel axle. After copper pot distilling with a mix of rain and well water, its left to oxidize overnighta key process as oxygen accentuates the blancos fruity nature. Cherry and papaya notes mingle with mint and pepper in a spirit with a big, silky mouthfeel.
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Casa Dragones Tequila Joven
Headed up by the first woman to be named Maestra Tequilera by the government of Mexico, theres little more premium than this spirit poured into hand-blown bottles that are each numbered and signed. Its as gentle as tequila comes, using ultra-modern distillation to attain heights of drinkability unseen elsewhere in the agave world. Purchase: $270
Most Versatile: Corralejo Reposado
Region: Guanajuato, Mexico | ABV: 40% | Tasting Notes: Honey, Peppercorn, Oak
Jenny Harris, bar manager of San Diego’s Point Loma Fish Shop, says you cant lose with this reposado produced at Tequilera Corralejo. Located east of Jalisco in the neighboring state of Guanajuato, this distillery is rated among tequilas top 100 by the Sanschagrins Tequila Matchmaker user base. This reposado is aged in American oak barrels, giving off an oaky profile that Harris particularly likesalong with flavors of peppercorn, honey, and, of course, agave. Its a tequila that starts with a woody, nutty aroma, rolls sweetly over the palate, and finishes with a slightly bitter spiciness.
Neat, on the rocks, or in a cocktail, is always going to be delicious and smooth. Jenny Harris, bar manager of San Diego’s Point Loma Fish Shop
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Villa Lobos Extra Aejo
Originally slated only for the UK market, this passion project of legendary distiller Carlos Camarena was recently made available in the US. His goal is to make as expressive a tequila as possible, and nowhere is that more evident than in the extra añejo. After four years aging in barrels, theres the expected battery of oak, vanilla, toffee and caramel, but what makes Villa Lobos special is those flavors travel hand in hand with roasted agave that somehow still tastes fresh, alongside pepper and a bit of earth.
Best Cristalino: 1800 Cristalino
Region: Jalisco, Mexico | ABV: 40% | Tasting Notes: Sweet, Smooth, Peppery
A recent innovation, cristalino is made by stripping the color from aged tequila. Its essentially a way to circumvent the steep pricing of agave due to crop shortages by using what distillers already have in stock. The 1800 Cristalino is a good bottle to uncork when drinking with non-tequila fans. Blended from 16-month-old añejo aged in American and French oak, its rested for an additional six months in former port barrels before double filtering. As youd expect, its sweet on the nose and the palate, with a luscious mouthfeel, but it finishes with some of the pepperiness that bespeaks the agave. Sip this neat or on ice.
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How To Drink Tequila
Step away from the shot glass. Quality tequila is not to be downed in one. The best way to taste it is to take a sip and hold the liquid in your mouth for a minimum of five seconds, says Moncrieffe. The idea is to allow all the flavors to coat different areas of your mouth and then swallow slowly.
The receptacle you drink from also has an impact on the overall effect. You can sip a good-quality blanco tequila out of a small sherry glass, enjoy good quality reposado tequila in an old fashioned whisky glass with some ice and zest of orange, or even try an añejo in a warm brandy glass.