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The 10 Best Sipping Tequilas to Try in 2021
The growth and depth of quality tequila options make it a fascinating spirit to sip in 2021. A range of quality brands and strong Mexican regulation in production and distillation has helped fuel the spirit’s popularity, while the tequila connoisseur is a growing designation for those who like to sample quality liquor.
There are three major types of tequila; Blanco, Reposado, and Anejo, although you’ll find Joven (in between Blanco and Reposado), Cristalino (filtered clear), and extra Anejo tequila (matured longer) online as well.
Blanco tequila is unaged tequila that tastes strongly of the agave plant, while Reposado (rested tequila) and Anejo (aged) tequila are recommended for those looking for more intense flavor, depth, and complexity.
You’ll find examples of these major tequila types in the list of best sipping tequila to try, along with some other interesting variations and the wild and earthier mezcal. You won’t be finding any mixto tequila that fills slushy machines and cheap sections of your liquor store on this list.
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1. Cincoro Reposado Tequila
Due to the labor and aging process involved, Anejo and extra Anejo variations tend to be the most expensive tequila, often released as limited edition offerings. If you are looking at a quality tequila brand but have a slightly more limited budget, then a superbly distilled reposado tequila like this one from Cincoro is often a great compromise. Cincoro Reposado begins as a crisp Cincoro Blanco before aging in used American Oak barrels for 8 – 10 months at an ABV of 55%.
The Cincoro aging and blending process creates a rich and complex profile that mixes the aroma of agave pina and vanilla with cooked agave, lighter vanilla tones, dried fruit, and baking spices amongst toasted oak on the palate. This may be the smoothest tequila in the reposado range and one worth sipping neat in your tequila glass. I highly recommend it!
2. Tears of Llorona Extra Anejo Tequila
Tears of Llorona is a small batch extra Anejo tequila aged five years in oak barrels that have previously held scotch, sherry, and brandy. Master Distiller Germán Gonzalez – a true industry legend whose line traces back to the Mexican presidency – harvests only high altitude, late-season blue agave which is known for its natural sugar content.
The combination of triple barreling and extra-long aging creates a complex, layered fusion that is more like a cognac or a very old whiskey. With black cherry notes and crème Brulee flavors melded with the beautiful clear notes of quality cooked agave, the resulting extra aged tequila is fantastically deep and textured.
Tears of Llorona, named after the iconic La Llorona, is a truly great tequila worthy of its hefty price tag and the significant reputation it carries in Mexico for quality.
3. Casa Dragones Blanco
This small batch, unaged tequila is the ideal liquor to craft the perfect margarita but is delightful for sipping, with a smooth, clean agave flavor and the signature warmth of silver tequila. 100% made from the blue agave plant, Dragones Blanco features a unique distillation process that results in a super-smooth tequila with hints of citrus, peppers, and cloves.
A premium Blanco tequila can be considered the most versatile expression of the major tequila types, well suited to sipping neat, poured liberally into a top-quality margarita, or as a simpler mixed drink with tropical fruit juice, a fresh lime wedge, and ice.
4. Casa Noble Extra Anejo Single Barrel
Much like with whiskey and vodka, tequila producers are now incorporating grain to glass and single barrel expressions to emphasize their localized production and distillation elements. The certified organic Casa Noble produces this fantastic extremely rare Extra Anejo Tequila that results from extra aging inside a lightly charred French oak barrel.
The French oak and caramel shine through on the aroma and palate, balanced delicately against the warmth of cooked agave. Casa Noble uses triple distillation to create a beautifully smooth-tasting expression with a lingering sweetness and a hint of crème Brulee. If you are looking for a complex, rich, and sweet textured ultra-premium tequila, Casa Noble Extra Anejo is unlikely to disappoint.
5. Gran Patron Piedra Extra Anejo
Patron is a tequila brand that can dominate your liquor cabinet at all levels, but this ultra-premium tequila goes next level. Gran Patron Piedra is crafted by the traditional tahona stone, which mashes the cooked agave pina so that it can be pressed for distillation. This luxurious caramel, vanilla, and agave flavored tequila has been aged in a mix of French and American Oak ex-bourbon barrels for four years to give it an almost unrivaled intensity of taste.
Gran Patron Piedra is the most expensive tequila on this list (the famous brand has some pricier limited releases) but is definitely a bottle to put on the top shelf of your home bar to save for those most special occasions.
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6. Herradura Ultra Cristalino Anejo
The fastest growing subcategory of good tequila is Cristalino, mixing the depth of flavor and taste of Anejo or Reposado with the crispness and agave forward flavor of silver tequila. The Herradura Ultra Cristalino Anejo delivers one of the smoothest tequila tastes at a quality price point for customers looking to try a new type.
It’s crafted from hand-harvested agave and then barrel-aged in American Oak, before undergoing a charcoal filtering process that creates a clear finish agave spirit. On the palate, you will find subtle notes of cooked agave, caramel, vanilla, wood, honey, dried fruit, and toasted almonds.
This is a cool expression developing with the palate of every tequila connoisseur, and with Cristalino becoming the new darling of tequila, finding the quality ones will set your liquor cabinet apart.
7. Jose Cuervo Reserva de la Familia Platino
Reserva de la Familia Platino is an unaged tequila from bestseller Jose Cuervo. It provides your sipping with great balance and smoothness for a classic silver tequila. Cuervo’s proprietary “Esencia de Agave” production method ensures the pure agave notes from the agave hearts which provides an “un-silver” level of intensity in aroma and flavor.
The notes of slow-cooked agave, pepper, and spice make it a good choice for your tequila glass, and a great silver tequila option for just about any use whether it’s a quality margarita cocktail or tropical fruit mixed drink.
8. El Tequileno Reposado Rare
This is a limited edition premium tequila aged for six years in large American white oak barrels called Pipons. It’s designated reposado rare because it can’t be called Anejo tequila due to the massive size of the oak cask it’s aged in (over 600 liters).
This is a great tequila for sipping, as the flavors from the oak seep deeply into the distillation, lending this Reposado a complex melding of flavors such as dried fruit, honey, vanilla, woody oak, and spices. Each bottle of El Tequileno Reposado Rare is individually numbered and signed by 3rd generation Gran Tequilero, Antonio Salles, and it’s recommended you drink neat, or over ice with a lime wedge.
9. Espolon Blanco Tequila
Crafted in Jalisco from 100% Blue Weber Agave, Espolon Blanco is a good tequila at a bargain price that’s certainly not out of place on this list of sipping options. Espolon Blanco tequila honors Mexico’s art and history, and the story of Espolon – the spur of a rooster – is great for starting conversations.
Buying a tequila with versatility like Espolon Blanco can sometimes be the way to go – a party may break out after a quality tequila shot, mixed drink or cocktail loosens things up! It’s also a nice, simple tequila clean agave taste that is useful to pour liberally neat and enjoy getting through more quickly than other expensive tequila choices.
10. Vamonos Riendo Ensamble Mezcal
Mezcal has the reputation for tasting stronger than tequila, especially when compared to the Blanco and Joven varieties. Mezcal’s roasted agave usually results in an earthier, smokier flavor and creates a different element to your drink.
Vamonos Riendo, which means “Let’s Go Laughing,” topped our list of Mezcals to try. It incorporates Tobala mezcal from Maestro Don Félix in Soledad Salinas, and an agave Espadin mezcal from Maestro Humberto in San Juan Del Rio. Both Maestros roast their magueys in underground stone pits and ferment in American white oak vats, using only remnants of black and white oak to fire the pits and the copper stills.
These two mezcals meet in Tlalixtac de Cabrera where Maestro Luis Angel double distills the Tobala and Espadin agave together in his still, then performs a third distillation to make a vegan style pechuga. The wild agave-based spirit is rich in warmth, flavor, and fun. It’s a brilliant reflection of the Mexican spirit-making process and commitment to quality wild agave drink distillation.
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