Best tequila – taste tested

We bring you the 10 best bottles of Mexican firewater to get a party started. Read our review to find the finest agave-based spirits on the market, from traditional tequila to mezcal and sotol. 

Tequila: a word that can strike fear into the hearts of anyone three quarters of a way through a night out drinking with friends. But fear ye not, tequila is not what it might seem. In fact, we know through a mixture of mixing it into cocktails, or simply sipping away, that tequila is not for slamming. In fact, ‘tequila’ has some unique and tasty cousins, also produced in Mexico from the agave plant, such as mezcal, sotol and raicilla. Hola mi amigo, ¿cómo estás!


Del Maguey Vida Mezcal

Del Maguey Vida
Del Maguey is the brainchild of Californian artist turned mezcal maestro Ron Cooper, who has been importing this agave spirit since 1995. It has since become the darling spirit of the hipster world. This example shows how different it can taste from tequila, with smoky elements and an earthy undertone. £33 from retailers across the country. Read the full story on the Del Maguey website.


Tapatio Reposado Tequila

Tequila reposado
One of the most masterful tequilas around, this reposado (meaning ‘rested’ for between 2 and 12 months) is made from 100% blue agave by one of the true godfathers of tequila production, Carlos Camarena. Rich buttery notes, alongside a distinct citrus freshness and a slightly earthy note, come from the ex-bourbon casks in which it is rested for around 4 months. Around £32.99, read more about Tapiato here


Patrón Silver Tequila

Patron Silver    
Patrón is the game-changing tequila brand of the past decade or so, making this spirit category much more approachable and premium through an innovative distillery which allows them to make a consistent and delicious product that works exceptionally well in cocktails. £33 from stores nationwide. Read more on the Patron website
 

Hacienda de Chihuahua Sotol Anejo

Hacienda sotol
The spirit ‘sotol’ is exclusively produced by just a handful of distillers not far from the US border and Hacienda de Chihuahua is probably the most well-known.  It’s produced from the desert spoon plant, which can take as long as 15 years to fully mature. With a more spicy, herbaceous note than tequila, it works well for sipping. £39.45 from The Whisky Exchange.


Gran Centenario Reposado Tequila

Cenenario Resposado
This is a reposado tequila, which starts out with around 10 months maturation in French wine casks.  It’s then blended with other tequilas which helps to develop a distinct vanilla-tinged floral top note like nothing else. £29.95 from 31 Dover.


QuiQuiRiQui Matatlan Mezcal 

QuiQuiRiQui mezcal
QuiQuiRiQui, which means ‘cock-a-doodle-doo’ is a mezcal which has as good a flavour as it does name. The taste ranges from smoky to sugary sweet and has a peppery finish. This comes from Matatlan, the home of mezcal in Mexico. £27, read more on the QuiQuiRiQui website


Herradura Anjeo Tequila

Herradura
An anjeo is a tequila that is rested in oak for longer than year, but fewer than three years. This example is from a house founded in 1870 and still makes its product in the same way today, as it did back then. Notes of sweet vanilla, toffee popcorn and black pepper mark this out as excellent example of a anjeo tequila. Around £40, read more on the Herradura website.


Ocho Blanco Tequila 

Ocho tequila
This spirit places heavy focus on what makes tequila, tequila: the agave flavour. This is Mexico in a bottle. Each batch comes from a different field or rancho contributing distinctive characteristics of that terrain. This has been produced in conjunction with Tomas Estes, an official Tequila Ambassador for the Mexican Government! Around £22.00, read more on the Ocho website.


Olmeca Altos Silver Tequila 

Altos tequila
This is a more specific version of the original Olmeca tequila, with the name 'Altos' reflecting the highland region of Tequila, in Mexico from where they source their agave. This is a fresh tequila which works brilliantly in a MargaritaAround £30, available nationwide. Read more on the Altos Tequila website.


Gran Patrón Piedra Tequila

Gran Patron
This is a tequila for really treating yourself – and it should be at the price. An extra añejo (very old in tequila terms) produced by Patrón. Made from 100% blue weber agave from the highlands of Jalisco and matured in both American and French oak casks, it has notes more akin to a whisky than a tequila.  £245.00, buy from Master of Malt.

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This review was last updated in April 2017. If you have any questions, suggestions for future reviews or spot anything that has changed in price or availability please get in touch at goodfoodwebsite@bbc.com. 

Which tequila do you drink? We'd love to hear your product suggestions. 

Comments, questions and tips

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MariaTepoztlan
6th May, 2017
It´s very disappointing that you fancy the beverages,but don´t know that TEQUILA is an appelation of origin (DOT in Spanish). As such it only applies to distillates made from AGAVE AZUL (blue agave) produced in certain areas of the states of Guanajuato, Jalisco, Michoacan, Nayarit and Tamaulipas. MEZCAL is a whole other story, since the procedure by which it is obtained is different and, the varieties of agave used are also different. In conclusion from you list less than half are tequilas. Please show some respect, this product is part of a very proud cultural identity and heritage, next time do a little research before you jump into writting . https://www.crt.org.mx/index.php/en
TexasIrishYankee
29th Apr, 2017
First of all, as a Texan, I cannot even understand this article. Most of the premium tequilas are not in this article and several I have never seen or heard of. WTF. Plus: You did not explain the difference between blanco (white), anjeo(aged) and reposado (reserved). Blanco is not put into a barrel so there is no oak influence. It's the "newest" of the tequilas. Reposado is slightly aged in an oak barrel and has a slight caramel tint. Anejo is aged at least one year in an oak barrel and has a darker color and richer flavor with smoky notes. Patron is considered the best and "top shelf" in the states. Most people drink Patron Silver (blanco) in their over-priced margaritas. Don Julio is even better and most Texans know that Don Julio is the highest of quality and slightly better priced. Salt and Lime? We call these "training wheels" and are usually accompanied with cheap tequila and/or new tequila drinkers. Say no to training wheels when you ask for Don Julio or Patron on the rocks. It's an insult to tequila drinkers to have training wheels with fine tequila.
WorldsBestSpirits
4th May, 2017
Thank you for your reply and for reading the article. We do indeed mention the difference between blanco, anjeo and reposado in the respective reviews of the items above but thank you for brining it up again for additional focus. Keep enjoying your Mezcal / Tequila. Thanks for reading and let's go for a tequila next time we are in Texas. Cheerio! =WBS=
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