Tequila is an agave-based spirit that can only be produced in certain parts of Mexico (just like champagne has to come from a particular region of France). It’s been around for centuries and is made using the pineapple-shaped heart of the agave plant. When done right, tequila is a silky smooth drink, with light touches of citrus.
Some tequilas are ideal for cocktails, while others – especially pure versions, made with 100% agave – can be enjoyed in a short glass with ice. Read on to discover our best buys, including bottles from Patrón, VIVIR, Fortaleza and Herradura.
The best tequila taste tested
Código 1530 Rosa tequila
This ultra-premium tequila is backed by American country music singer, George Strait. A family recipe let loose just over a decade ago, the Código 1530 is a super-smooth spirit that will encourage you to rethink how you feel about tequila. It’s full of bright fruits and silky agave, owing to the month it spent in cabernet wine barrels. Read our full Código 1530 Rosa tequila review.
El Rayo Plata tequila
Smooth, modern tequila, made for a T&T (tequila and tonic). This bottle is the passion project of a couple of young Brits who fell in love with tequila and quit their day jobs for the cause. Smooth and herbaceous, tonic helps bring out the more complex and oily citrus notes of this impressive, peppery spirit. Read our full El Rayo Plata tequila review.
Patrón Reposado tequila
Patrón likes to say it didn’t invent tequila – just perfected it. Famed for coffee liqueur and an exquisite line of tequilas, Patrón’s briefly aged expression is smooth with vanilla and vibrant with citrus, oozing with silky agave and honey. Read our full Patrón Reposado tequila review.
Kah Blanco tequila
A fascinating-looking bottle of tequila that celebrates an equally fascinating local custom. This earthy, citrus-laced tequila comes in a hand-finished calavera (skull-shaped bottle) in tribute to the traditions of Mexico’s Day of the Dead. Read our full Kah Blanco tequila review.
VIVIR Tequila Añejo
This 100 per cent agave tequila is on a mission to change perceptions of the spirit in the UK. An exquisite sipping tequila delivered in a striking bottle, it’s best enjoyed with just a single ice cube and nothing more. It’s packed with chewy fudge and creamy vanilla notes, as well as a mature, lingering smokiness. Read our full VIVIR Tequila Añejo review.
Jose Cuervo Tradicional Silver tequila
The ideal cocktail base from the world’s oldest and biggest tequila brand. Jose Cuervo Tradicional Silver is a premium offering from this mammoth distillery – it’s a slick, 100 per cent agave spirit that has well-balanced smoothness and sweetness. It’s perfect for a margarita. Read our full Jose Cuervo Tradicional Silver tequila review.
Cazcabel Reposado tequila
Straight from the highlands of Jalisco (a coastal Mexican state) is this deliciously balanced tequila, made with one eye on the past and one eye on the future. Truly an artisan offering, the distillery itself is based in the highlands, putting the operation close to where the agave is grown. Cazcabel Reposado is chewy with caramel and punchy with cinnamon and pepper – it makes an excellent Mexican negroni. Read our full Cazcabel Reposado tequila review.
Rooster Rojo blanco tequila
Tequila from the town of Tequila (in the Mexican state of Jalisco) itself. This bottle comes from the Fabrica de Tequilas Finos distillery, a producer of many fine spirits. Rooster Rojo blanco is the brainchild of esteemed master distiller, Arturo Fuentes Cortes. It’s full of herbaceous and citrus flavours, sparked to life by fiery pepper. Read our full Rooster Rojo blanco tequila review.
1800 Silver tequila
Jose Cuervo’s premium cousin, 1800 tequila was made to celebrate the year when tequila was first successfully aged in wood. This 100 per cent agave tequila is smooth and refreshing, slick with notes of aloe vera and hints of citrus. Read our full 1800 Silver tequila review.
Made to an age-old recipe using age-old processes and age-old equipment, this is an ultra-authentic tequila. Fortaleza Reposado is dry at points but also bursting with citrus, full of sticky sweetness with caramel and toffee ahead of orchard fruits. Read our full Fortaleza Reposado review.
Del Maguey Vida mezcal
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.
Tapatio Reposado tequila
This reposado (meaning ‘rested’ for between two and 12 months) is made from 100% blue agave by one of the true godfathers of tequila production, Carlos Camarena. Expect rich, buttery notes alongside a distinct citrus freshness. Slight earthy notes come from the ex-bourbon casks in which it is rested for around four months.
Hacienda de Chihuahua sotol añejo
The spirit ‘sotol’ is exclusively produced by just a handful of distillers not far from the US border. It’s made 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.
This reposado tequila spends around 10 months maturing in French wine casks. It’s then blended with other tequilas to develop a distinct, vanilla-tinged floral top note.
QuiQuiRiQui (translating to ‘cock-a-doodle-doo’) is a mezcal that ranges in flavour as you sip it, from smoky to sugary sweet and peppery at the end. It comes from Matatlan, the home of mezcal in Mexico.
An añejo is a tequila that’s rested in oak for longer than a year, but fewer than three years. Herradura was founded in 1870 and still makes its product in the exact same way. Notes of sweet vanilla, toffee popcorn and black pepper mark this out as excellent example of an añejo tequila.
This spirit places heavy focus on the very essence of tequila: agave. Each batch comes from a different field or rancho, contributing distinctive characteristics of that terrain. It’s produced in conjunction with Tomas Estes, an official Tequila Ambassador for the Mexican Government.
A definite treat-yourself tequila (just look at the price), Patrón’s extra añejo is made from 100% blue weber agave from the highlands of Jalisco. This tequila is matured in both American and French oak casks and has notes more akin to whisky than tequila.
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This review was last updated in March 2021. If you have any questions, suggestions for future reviews or spot anything that has changed in price or availability please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.