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10 Best Tequilas For Sipping: Sip, Relish, Repeat


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Once relegated to raucous parties and quick shots washed down with salt and lime, tequila has gracefully evolved into a sophisticated spirit due to the evolution of several sipping tequila varieties.

I recommend Añejo and Extra Añejo as the best tequilas for sipping. Due to oak barrel ageing, they offer a symphony of earthy agave flavours with nuanced woody and fruity notes.

Whether you’re a seasoned tequila enthusiast or a curious newcomer, I have included some fantastic Reposado, Añejo and Extra Añejo tequila varieties.

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Best Tequilas For Sipping

From earthy agave to hints of caramel, fruit, spices and oak, the best tequilas for sipping are rich and refined. Here are 10 to discover.

1. VIVIR Tequila Añejo

VIVIR Tequila Añejo
Credit: Vivir

Overview

  •  Country: Mexico
  •  Type: Añejo
  •  Alcohol by Volume (ABV): 40%
  •  Brand: VIVIR

Review

Tequila Añejo is a double gold star award-winning agave from VIVIR, a 5th generation family-owned distillery making waves in Mexico.

This sipping tequila combines highland Weber Blue Agave and local volcanic water. This sophisticated tequila is aged in oak bourbon casks for 18 months.

On The Nose

Vanilla, caramel, dried fruits, toasted almonds, spice, oak.

On the Palate

Smooth caramel and slightly spicy vanilla up front, with the burnt sweetness of banana and dark chocolate mid-palate. The finish is smooth with a smoky agave kick.

Pricing & Info

You can check the latest pricing, product information, and order online.

2. El Rayo Reposado No.2 Tequila

El Rayo Reposado No.2 Tequila
Credit: Elrayo

Overview

  •  Country: Mexico
  •  Type: Reposado
  •  Alcohol by Volume (ABV): 40%
  •  Brand: El Rayo

Review

As with most things in life, you get out what you put in, and El Rayo Reposado Tequila is proof of this as all their agave is planted and harvested by hand.

The tequila is then matured in old whiskey casks for 7 months. This passion clearly impacts the flavour of this fine tequila.

On The Nose

Citrus, herbal, light pepper, agave sweetness, a hint of wood.

On The Palate

Fresh agave and the subtle sweetness of caramel, it soon becomes deliciously herbal and woody. This Reposado tequila has a crisp finish but is not bitter or burning.

Pricing & Info

You can check the latest pricing, product information, and order online.

3. Don Julio 1942 Añejo Tequila

Don Julio 1942 Añejo Tequila
Credit: Don Julio

Overview

  •  Country: Mexico
  •  Type: Añejo
  •  Alcohol by Volume (ABV): 38%
  •  Brand: Don Julio

Review

Don Julio 1942 Añejo Tequila is a nod to the man himself, Don Julio González, who, back in 1942, became the founding father of luxury premium tequila.

This Don Julio tequila is made from Blue Weber agave that is planted further apart to ensure that it has room to grow, distilled in small batches, and then aged for 2.5 years in oak casks.

On The Nose

Rich caramel, chocolate, roasted nuts, warm spices.

On The Palate

It starts off a little like Casamigos Añejo with rich, silky caramel and dark chocolate tones, revealing mild spices mid-palate. A semi-sweet finish is soothed by woody notes, perfect for sipping.

Pricing & Info

You can check the latest pricing, product information, and order online.

4. El Jimador Añejo Tequila

El Jimador Añejo Tequila
Credit: El Jimador

Overview

  •  Country: Mexico
  •  Type: Añejo
  •  Alcohol by Volume (ABV): 38%
  •  Brand: El Jimador

Review

Tequila distiller El Jimador grows and harvests its agave in Amatitán, in the Mexican state of Jalisco. Their agave is not produced from seeds but from offshoots.

El Jimador Añejo tequila is double distilled and aged for 12 months in American oak barrels for added depth and richness of flavour.

On The Nose

Toasted oak, vanilla, cinnamon, and fresh agave

On The Palate

Notes of vanilla and toffee and a cheeky nip of spice are up first. Soon comes a mix of woody flavours, and fresh agave becomes almost peppery towards the finish.

Pricing & Info

You can check the latest pricing, product information, and order online.

5. Olmeca Altos Añejo

Olmeca Altos Añejo
Credit: Olmeca

Overview

  •  Country: Mexico
  •  Type: Añejo
  •  Alcohol by Volume (ABV): 40%
  •  Brand: Altos

Review

Olmeca Altos grow their agave at 2000 metres above sea level in rich volcanic soil. Every agave matures for 7 to 8 years until harvested for a fuller flavour experience.

The brand’s Añejo tequila is aged for 18 months in old bourbon American oak barrels, where the tequila inherits its golden hue and fuller flavour profile.

On The Nose

Dark chocolate, dried fruit, toasted oak, agave, and spices.

On The Palate

Begins with ultra-smooth tones of agave and caramel, with black pepper and dark chocolate mid-palate. Becomes more woody and nutty with a spiced vanilla finish.

Pricing & Info

You can check the latest pricing, product information, and order online.

6. Gran Patrón Piedra Extra Añejo

Gran Patrón Piedra Extra Añejo
Credit: Gran Patron

Overview

  •  Country: Mexico
  •  Type: Extra Añejo
  •  Alcohol by Volume (ABV): 40%
  •  Brand: Patrón

Review

Patrón is perhaps the finest tequila producer in Mexico, and the jewel in their crown, in my humble opinion, is their extra añejo tequila, Gran Patrón Piedra Extra Añejo.

The Jimadors wait a painstaking 8 years before they uproot their Weber Blue Agave for optimal sugar content. This añejo tequila is aged for 3 years in old bourbon oak casks.

On The Nose

Deep cherry, fresh fruit, nutmeg, creamy vanilla, aged oak.

On The Palate

Begins with a slightly sweet, fruity flavour that soon meets smooth vanilla, fresh agave and hints of mushroom. The soft and semi-sweet woody finish is spectacular.

Pricing & Info

You can check the latest pricing, product information, and order online.

7. El Espolòn Reposado Tequila

El Espolòn Reposado Tequila
Credit: El Espolòn

Overview

  •  Country: Mexico
  •  Type: Reposado
  •  Alcohol by Volume (ABV): 40%
  •  Brand: Espolòn San Nicolas

Review

Named after the sharp spur attached to the hind leg of the fighting rooster, Espolòn is a tribute to the history of tequila and Mexican culture and folklore.

This Reposado tequila is double distilled, once in a ‘Coffey still’, and the second time in a ‘pot still’. It is then matured in small 200-litre American oak barrels for six months.

On The Nose

Sweet tropical fruit, vanilla, spices, toasted oak.

On The Palate

Opens. with vanilla, banana and herbs, with the spicy sweetness of brown sugar and fresh agave mid-palate. The finish of this tasty Reposado is peppery with toasted oak.

Pricing & Info

You can check the latest pricing, product information, and order online.

8. 1800 Tequila Añejo

1800 Tequila Añejo
Credit: 1800

Overview

  •  Country: Mexico
  •  Type: Añejo
  •  Alcohol by Volume (ABV): 38%
  •  Brand: 1800®

Review

1800 Tequila was named after the year this premium tequila was first created, and for more than 200 years, the original recipe has not been deviated from. Why bother to mess with perfection, I say.

1800® Tequila Anejo is brought to life with mature Weber blue agave to ensure maximum flavour, then aged for 14 months in French oak barrels.

On The Nose

Caramel, almond, vanilla, roasted agave, and spice.

On the Palate

Ultra-smooth from the start with wood, vanilla and butterscotch that give way to roasted agave midway. A rich and luxurious caramel finish is gently spiced and pairs well with a crisp Mexican beer.

Pricing & Info

You can check the latest pricing, product information, and order online.

9. Tapatio Excelencia Gran Reserva Extra Añejo

apatio Excelencia Gran Reserva Extra Añejo
Credit: Tapatio Excelencia

Overview

  •  Country: Mexico
  •  Type: Extra Añejo
  •  Alcohol by Volume (ABV): 40%
  •  Brand: Tapatio

Review

Tapatio has been crafting premium tequila since Don Felipe opened the La Alteña distillery in the tequila-producing Mecca of Jalisco, Mexico, in 1937.

Tapatio Excelencia Gran Reserva Extra Añejo is matured for 4 years in a combination of American oak and French oak casks to create unparalleled depth and body.

On The Nose

Deep agave, ripe fruit, toasted oak, rich spices, chocolate hints.

On The Palate

Opens with the spicy sweetness of brown sugar, agave, and dark chocolate. Woody notes and caramel appear mid-palate. The finish is soft yet slightly herb-like, with lingering woody notes.

Pricing & Info

You can check the latest pricing, product information, and order online.

10. Sierra Milenario Extra Anejo Tequila

Sierra Milenario Extra Anejo Tequila
Credit: Sierra Tequila

Overview

  •  Country: Mexico
  •  Type: Extra Añejo
  •  Alcohol by Volume (ABV): 41.5%
  •  Brand: Sierra Milenario

Review

In the high-altitude, mineral-rich, sunny highlands of Jalisco, master distiller Rodolfo Gonzalez Gonzalez produces the finest tequila using traditional methods dating back hundreds of years.

SIERRA Milenario Extra Anejo Tequila is double-distilled and aged in French oak barrels for nearly four years to ensure the utmost richness, depth and complexity.

On The Nose

Agave, honey, tropical fruits, dark chocolate, oak, and spices.

On The Palate

Begins with a jolt of agave, spice and vanilla, revealing caramel, honey and burnt oak flavours. The finish is smooth and well-rounded, with a dark/bitter chocolate note that lingers nicely.

Pricing & Info

You can check the latest pricing, product information, and order online.

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Andrew’s Top Pick

I selected 1800 Tequila Añejo as one of the best tequilas for sipping

1800 Tequila Añejo

My top pick for sipping tequila is 1800 Tequila Añejo because it’s rich and smooth with oak and caramel but maintains its agave freshness.

Yes, my bottle is now empty! Further proof this tequila is well worth the experience.

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Sipping Tequila Quick Guide

Andrew and Ingrid drinking a Tequila Old Fashioned
Andrew and Ingrid‘s Tequila Old Fashioned
No.NameTypeNotable Characteristics
1VIVIR Tequila AñejoAñejoOaky with hints of vanilla and caramel
2El Rayo Reposado No.2ReposadoCitrusy, herbal with a light pepper kick
3Don Julio 1942 AñejoAñejoRich caramel, chocolate, and nuts
4El Jimador Añejo TequilaAñejoToasted oak with vanilla undertones
5Olmeca Altos AñejoAñejoDark chocolate with toasted oak hints
6Gran Patrón Piedra Extra AñejoExtra AñejoDeep cherry with creamy vanilla
7El Espolòn Reposado TequilaReposadoSweet tropical fruit with brown spices
81800 Tequila AñejoAñejoRich caramel with almond undertones
9Tapatio Excelencia Extra AñejoExtra AñejoDeep agave with hints of ripe fruit
10Sierra Milenario Extra AnejoExtra AñejoHoneyed with tropical fruit notes
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Conclusion

Andrew-with-1800-Tequila
My top pick is 1800 Tequila Añejo

The next time you find yourself in a bar and fancy ordering something different, the best tequilas for sipping are Añejo or extra Añejo tequila (with the odd Reposado). Enjoy them neat or on the rocks.

Are the days of enjoying tequila shots with salt, lime and a group of friends numbered? I don’t think so. However, tequila has a more mature and refined side that deserves your attention. 

The fermented agave juice is then distilled by either port or column stills to extract the alcohol. Finally, depending on the tequila type (see the next section), it is placed in oak barrels to age.

Also Read: 10 best Mezcals for sipping

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Types Of Tequila

Tequila types

There are 5 main types of tequila that you need to be aware of. Some are certainly not for sipping, so let us take a quick review of each class to ensure you don’t end up sipping a tequila designed for shots!

1. Blanco

Blanco (translates as “white”) is also known as “silver” tequila. The Blanco variety of tequila is usually completely clear in colour and not aged in barrels. It is generally bottled straight after being distilled.

Depending on the process the distiller uses, sometimes the tequila is allowed to settle before bottling. The whole point of Blanco tequila is to enjoy the flavour of the agave in its truest form.

This is a burning spirit that is typically enjoyed as a tequila shot with salt & lime. It’s not a sipper, but great fun.

2. Joven

Joven (translates as “young”) is the halfway house of the tequila world. It usually is very light brown as it either has additional flavourings added before being bottled or sometimes is mixed with Añejo or extra Añejo.

This tequila variation is used as a mixer for tequila cocktails rather than for sipping or shots. I do not recommend this type of tequila as it is trying to please the masses, and fails.

3. Reposado

Reposado (translates as “restful”) is a light golden coloured tequila that must (under government regulations) be aged in oak barrels for at least 2 months. This is where your sipping tequila journey can begin.

As the oak barrels may have already been used to age other spirits, such as bourbon or whiskey, the tequila inherits many exciting flavours, such as caramel and light woody notes. 

However, the sweet green agave taste of the original tequila is still the most prominent note.

4. Añejo

In my opinion, Añejo (translates to “old/aged”) is where most sipping tequilas reside. Añejo tequila is aged in American or French oak barrels for 1 to 3 years. 

This tequila is far darker than Reposado and has a smoother and more complex flavour profile of notes such as caramel, vanilla, burnt sugar, woody notes and a more muted agave flavour.

5. Extra Añejo

Extra Añejo (translates to “extra old/aged”) is deep brown in colour and arguably the smoothest and flavoursome (and expensive!) tequila available. 

Extra Añejo tequila must be aged for at least 3 years in barrels or casks that do not exceed 600 litres. Most distillers age their Extra Añejo tequila for nearer to 4 years.

Deeper and smoother notes of rich caramel, spices, vanilla, dark chocolate, burnt sugar, oak, and delicate green agave are usually present. Extra Añejo is considered by most to be the ultimate in sipping tequila.

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How Is Tequila Made?

How Is Tequila Made?

Tequila is made from the blue agave plant. Its spiky leaves are removed by jimadors to expose the heart of the plant, also known as the “piña”. The harvested piña are then crushed and baked in a steam-producing brick oven to soften them for shredding.

Also Read: 7 Best Sotol Brands

Once shredded, the pulp is compressed to release the sugary sap of the piñas. This sweet agave juice is diluted with water, and yeast is added to begin the fermentation process that lasts approximately 4 days).

References

Site: wikipedia.org/wiki/Tequila
Site: barschool.net/blog/tequila-insider
Book: Tequila: A Natural and Cultural History
Site: casamexicotequila.com/how-is-tequila-made
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Further Reading

Below are some additional articles from The Drinks Geek blog. We write articles on several fascinating areas of drinks, including different brands, drink types, cocktail recipes and more.

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