The World's Best Guide to Buying Tequila That Doesn't Suck

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3. If it's not 100% de agave, leave it for the frat boys.
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Dave Lieberman

It gets wearisome beating this drum, but I'll say it once again: every percentage of tequila that is not made from Agave tequilana Weber is a percentage that might as well be cat piss. It isn't, of course--it's usually cane alcohol, which has its own uses (mmmm, pajaretes...), but it makes for a harsh tequila that hits you with all the subtlety of a Warner Bros. anvil to the head. Make sure it says "100% de agave". Don't worry about whether it says blue agave, because it can't be called tequila unless it's made from blue agave.

4. Añejo does not mean "best"; it means "oldest"

The indicators of age are just that: how long it spent in the oak barricas before being poured out and bottled. Some places, like Cazadores, make good reposado and just okay añejo; some places, like Fortaleza, make an amazing blanco that gets overwhelmed by the wood taste of aging. The prices are always higher for the older tequilas because there's less añejo than reposado, and less reposado than blanco. Which brings us to...

5. Price is not a good indicator of quality

"You get what you pay for." If you hear someone say that about tequila, tell him he's telling you pendejadas. Many of the best tequilas in the world, particularly reposados, retail for $20-$30 per 750 mL bottle. Are there expensive tequilas out there that are worth it? Absolutely... but just because it's got a nice elegant bottle doesn't mean it's worth the money. In fact, some of the expensive tequilas come from distilleries where they make cheaper brands--and they all come from the same tanks.


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15 comments
rthunder32
rthunder32

Very good read...have you ever had Olmeca Altos Reposado, very affordable ~$20 a bottle, or Piedra Azul (repo also) which is about ~$17 a bottle?

filestock243
filestock243

Men... I work on a tequila tasting in Los Cabos, and you said all the right things. Congratulation. That was awesome :3

clivegains
clivegains

What is like El Gran Jubileo Blanco? I'm thinking getting Ocho Blanco or Aha Toro Blanco.

grvz5247
grvz5247

Camarena is the best Tequila.

dakanaka
dakanaka

Plain bottles don't always make the tequila, any more than pricing does. There's a relatively new tequila (repo only) in the Southern Calif market called Apocalypto, and it comes in a ceramic bottle shaped like a Mayan "half-man/half-jaguar". It beat out about 100 other repos to win BEST IN CLASS at the 2012 SIP competition; and won double-Gold at the 2012 Spirits of Mexico. It's incredibly good, and in the low $40's at Hi Time Wine Cellars. Oh, and it's from NOM 1438 ( I do my homework). Just goes to show...you can't always tell a tequila by it's cover...

Oh, and I agree with you about La Fortaleza....it's exquisite.... 

Kit Hope
Kit Hope

I've always been partial to Herradura.

20ftjesus
20ftjesus topcommenter

Milagro Tequila is another example of a fancy, expensive bottle with just average tequila.  

I nearly died when Carlos lent his name to Casa Noble.  Celebrity endorsements are the kiss of death.

So Dave, tell me...what is the best anejo that has been aged in new, French oak barrels and costs less than, say, $65/bottle?  (Casa Noble is around $75 on sale so I need a cheaper backup brand.)

David Rios
David Rios

Cazadores is crap after Bacardi bought it 10 years ago. The original cazadores is now called Hacienda Vieja good stuff@ only $18 a bottle. Visit High times in Costa Mesa for an aray of good ass tequila. Selection arte 1146 is a great tequila and not to pricey

americanlender12
americanlender12

Well it seems that you are far from being able to tell the difference of good and bad tequilas'. Cazadores is junk, all of it. It was purchased by Bacardi over 10 years ago, and obviously its not the same formula. If you enjoyed the old formula, grab yourself a bottle of Hacienda Vieja; $18 a bottle@ El Toro liquor in Santa Ana, its not bad at all. But if you really a tequila enthusiasts look for the NOM numbers on the bottle, that tells you what tequilery

-paulc-
-paulc-

Corralejo is my favorite over all "big brand."  Their reposado is pretty good if you shake it in ice and pour.  Its a bit harsh straight up.  

extramsg
extramsg

@20ftjesus milagro is relatively cheap at under $30 per bottle.  It's one of the better values out there.

Dave_Lieberman
Dave_Lieberman

@20ftjesus Ocho. Or Arette, though only half the barrels are French.

Dave_Lieberman
Dave_Lieberman

@americanlender12 You obviously live here; we're spoiled for choice here. When your choices are mixtos, overpriced nonsense like Don Julio, and things like Cien Años, Cazadores is a fine choice. Is it Chinaco, Arette, etc.? No. But those brands aren't distributed nationally

You make a good point about the NOM number though. .

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