Tequila has certainly grown up. No longer are we stuck with shots of Jose Cuervo Gold as the only option. We have choices and really good ones, too.
100% Blue Weber Agave Tequilas at Every Price Point
Tequila's notorious reputation as the king of hangovers comes from those cheap gold tequilas. Also called join tequilas, these are blends of different tequilas and sometimes include additives, not all of which are natural.
The educated tequila consumer now knows to look for the words '100%... Blue Weber Agave' 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. We want the good stuff, no matter how much (or little) we have to spend!
It is also important to remember the basic grading system for tequilas. Almost every tequila portfolio will offer a Blanco, reposado, and Anejo tequila. The last two are aged and have the same gold coloring of those gold tequilas, they are just better!
The Basics of Buying Tequila
When you are looking at a brand, you can usually gauge its quality by the price range. Very few of these 100% tequilas will be less than $20, but as you can see below, there are options available (and they're pretty good).
The Blanco will be the least expensive of the portfolio. You can expect to pay an extra $5-10 for the reposado and the same for the next step up to an Anejo.
Tequila Shots or Cocktails, Your Choice!
The beauty of this tequila revolution is that there is a tequila out there for everyone. For tequila shots, I would probably stick with the first few tequilas below, but don't let price stop you from enjoying some of the great shooters with a nice tequila! If you can afford it, I don't see why you can't enjoy it.
I certainly would not hesitate to mix any of the tequilas on this list into any of our favorite tequila cocktails. The most expensive here has a balance that sells for $50, which isn't bad considering some of the ultra-premium (often overpriced) options available today.
01 of 10
If you're looking for a cheap tequila shot, try Sauza Silver.
Budget tequilas are a tricky business and it is very easy to get burned when you buy the wrong one. Seriously, your mouth and stomach will burn!
That is why my top pick for a budget-friendly tequila is Sauza. No, it is not as smooth as the other tequilas on this list, but it is one of the best options for $15 or less. You can expect to pay a little more for the brand's reposado and Anejo tequilas.
I still do not recommend Sauza... Gold. Quite simply, I'm not a fan of gold tequilas and if you can get the balance at this price, there's no need to pay for the additives. Stick to the 100% agave tequilas and you will have a better experience.
The Premium Upgrade...
If you want an upgrade within the Sauza family, try Tres Generaciones. Where the Sauza tequilas are double distilled, Tres Generaciones are triple distilled and in this case, the difference is significant.
The upgrade will cost you, as a bottle of Tres Generaciones Plata is just under $50.
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02 of 10
An impressive set of budget-friendly and great tasting tequilas.
The Olmeca Distillery in Los Altos region of Jalisco, Mexico is producing some of the best tequilas you can find.
For those on a budget, a bottle of Olmeca Altos Tequila is a great choice for a blanco tequila. It is a light, dry tequila balanced with layers of pepper, fruit and spice that finishes with a snap of sweet agave, salt and pepper. It is a really nice option for tequila shots and fruity margaritas.
The blanco is just under... $20 and they also produce a reposado and anejo.
The Premium Upgrade...
From the same distillery, you will find that Tequila Tezon is one of the best tequilas you will ever taste. It is a personal favorite and one that I grab every chance I get.
The reposado is the most impressive and, in keeping with today's tequila market, the brand also offers the blanco and anejo options.
For these, you will be paying out $30 for the blanco with a $10 increase at each of the next levels. It is, possibly, the best value available for premium tequila.
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03 of 10
Affordable and premium tequilas you'll love to mix.
Tequila Corazon is a great tequila for the money. The bottles are hard to miss and they hold some of the smoothest, richest tequilas inside.
This is another tequila from Los Altos, home to the red clay soil that is distinct in the agave plants it produces. The Blanco is crisp, clean and full of that distinct agave flavor. It is everything you would hope to find in a true tequila.
Corazon is truly affordable. The Blanco can be found for less... than $30 and it is one of the best options available at that price. You won't mind shooting or mixing this one!
The Premium Upgrade...
I have yet to try these myself but am intrigued to learn that one of my favorite tequilas now offers an 'Artisanal Edition' under the label Expresiones. These are small batch versions of the original tequilas and the Blanco is a reasonable $70.
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04 of 10
An exciting tequila portfolio you need to know.
I was first introduced to Dos Lunas in 2008 and this is some very impressive tequila. It just got better, though, because the price has dropped by $10 a bottle since its first release. Now you can get a bottle of the Anejo for $50 and the balance is just $30!
The cost really is exciting because that brings the entire portfolio into the affordable premium range. These tequilas are worth it.
With Dos Lunas, you can make the best Margarita you have... tasted or feel free to enjoy a shot of the Blanco and be relieved of the guilt for having paid too much to do it.
Try Dos Lunas in...Continue to 5 of 10 below.
05 of 10
The tequilas you want for those fancy, new cocktails.
This set of stunning bottles holds some brilliant tequila. Milagro may not be the biggest name in tequila, but it is memorable and the cocktails you make it will be just as memorable.
Milagro is one of those tequila brands that begs to be mixed up. Sure, it's nice to sip straight, but as you can see with the recommended recipes below, it really shines in creative mixes.
You will also be pleased to know that Milagro is inexpensive. The silver... runs just under $30 and that makes it one of the best cocktail buys on the market today.
The Premium Upgrade...
Milagro also has a few upgrade options in their portfolio. The Select Barrel line includes silver, reposado, and Anejo offerings as well. These have been rested or aged in both American and French oak barrels. This includes the Silver, which starts the line off at a reasonable $50.
Another option that could cost you $300 is the luxurious Milagro Único II. This tequila combines silver tequila with barrel-aged reposado and Anejo tequilas. Much like Maestro Dobel, it is crystal clear thanks to a little filtering magic. I hear it's spectacular.
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06 of 10
One of the most popular tequilas with many upgrade options.
Patron has a few things going for it. It is a popular tequila and you can find a bottle of Patron Silver in almost any bar or liquor store you walk into. It is also nice to mix into any of your favorite tequila cocktails.
The bigger question is: Is Patron worth the $40 price tag? It is really going to depend on your personal taste. In comparison to some of the other premium tequilas on this list, I tend to think it's not.
That price is... for the Silver and you can expect to pay $10 more for the reposado and another $10 for the Anejo.
Though it may not be my first choice in the 'premium' tequila market, Patron can often be found on sale. That is one of the great advantages of a well-known brand, so look for those discounts!
The Ultra-Premium Upgrades...
Now, if you are a fan of Patron (and many of you are), I suggest that you splurge for one of their ultra-premium options at some time in your life.
Roca Patrón is made with the tahini wheel process and starts at $85. For a really luxurious upgrade, the Gran Patron line is available though those can set you back $200 or more.
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07 of 10
Don Eduardo Tequila
A great bargain in premium tequila.
Don Eduardo Tequila is a very smooth tequila and one that you can rely on finding at almost any liquor store.
The brand's silver tequila has notes of pepper and fruits, making it the perfect option for almost any tequila drink. Their aged tequilas are also nice for cocktails and act as a perfect introduction to the refined taste reposados and anejos.
Availability and price are two of Don Eduardo's strengths. The blanco runs right around $40 and it can... often be found on sale for $5-10 less than that.
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08 of 10
The tequila you want for a great drink every time.
Tequila Herradura is another one of those great brands that should be almost everywhere you look. It is premium, but not out of touch for most bars.
This tequila has one of the bolder flavor profiles you will find, yet it retains the smoothness that we look for in great tequilas. That means that this tequila will not get lost in the most flavorful cocktails, nor will it leave you cringing after a straight shot.
It is, quite simply, a great tequila... and with the Blanco running around $40, it's one of the better deals.
The Premium Upgrades...
Herradura has some interesting upgrades in its portfolio. Most of these are limited editions and it is always a good idea to pick them up when you come across them.
- Herradura Ultra is a blend of banjo and extra Anejo tequilas that have been filtered to a crystal clear, smooth finish. It runs around $60.
- Coleccion de la Casa is an annual release in which one element in the tequila making process is changed. For the true tequila geek, this would be a fascinating collection to follow. These are typically in the $85 range and are often experiments in using different woods for aging.
- Seleccion Suprema is an extra Anejo tequila, aged for a total of 49 months. This is the tequila you want to save for the really, really special visitors because it can run close to $400.
Try Herradura in...Continue to 9 of 10 below.
09 of 10
Premium tequila that's a gentle introduction to tequila.
The beautiful thing about Casamigos Tequila is that it is not a bold tequila taste, it is smooth and subtle. This makes it the perfect introductory tequila for drinkers who are new to the premium market.
Casamigos also happens to be one of the few celebrity-backed liquors I can genuinely recommend. It is the tequila brand of George Clooney and friends and, despite that, it's actually pretty good!
The another benefit is that the Blanco... and reposado tequilas from Casamigos are both priced under $50 a bottle. The Anejo is just over that. This is a price point that is not over the top, but in reach for many drinkers, even if it is just for special occasions.
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10 of 10
Premium tequilas you can sip straight.
It is hard to find faults in the tequilas of Don Julio. They are readily available and super smooth and richly flavored. They have the distinct tequila flavors that we love and their aged tequilas are particularly impressive.
Actually, for the price differences, I find that Don Julio Reposado and Anejo are a better deal than the brand's balance, which seems slightly overpriced compared to its older companions. At $50-60 for the entire range, these are... still right there on the cusp of being ridiculously priced.
The quality of your cocktails made with any of Don Julio's tequilas is going to be significant compared to many of the alternatives. If you are looking to mix up some of the best tequila cocktails you can afford, these are the tequilas you want in your bar.
The Ultra-Premium Upgrades...
Fans of Don Julio will want to get a taste of the brand's two ultra-premium tequilas at some point in their life. The 1942 and Real Extra Anejo top $125 and $350 respectively, but they are an experience that the true tequila aficionado will want to have.
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