La Biblioteca Tequila
[ The Tequila Library ]
Q: Who makes the best Tequila ?
Which Tequila is the "best" is really a matter of personal opinion and is hotly debated far and wide.
Sure, I have my favorites but when it comes right down to it, even a " highly recommended "
Tequila won't impress you, if you don't actually like the taste of it. And as you already know, taste is
truly subjective so why would I attempt to make that decision for you?
If you really want to find the best Tequila, don't listen to what the frat boys and magazine ads say,
ignore the price and the name on the label and forget how fancy the bottle looks. No one knows
what you like more than you.
That said, below I have listed a few simple pieces of information that will help you in your quest for
the most delicious Tequila. For example, what "type" of Tequila is it and how long has it been
aged? When you try a particular brand, type or age, remember these factors, they will help you
determine what it is that you liked or disliked about it and why.
There are two main " types" or grades of Tequila:
1. Mixed Tequila (Mixto)
Just like the name suggests, this Tequila is mixed or blended with something, rather than being a
100% pure Agave product. In fact, the law only requires it to be 51% distilled Agave. The rest is
usually water, artificial flavors and colors to make the batch look and taste better and to actually
end up selling twice as many bottles of "product" from one batch of Tequila. This lesser quality
liquor is what you get served at restaurants and bars as "house" or "well" Tequila. Bleckkk !!
Example of mixed Tequila: Jose Cuervo "Gold"
2. 100% Agave Tequila
Just like the name suggests, this is %100 pure Agave Tequila. And although some distilleries are
allowed to add a bit of distilled water to their batches to help moderate the alcohol levels in a
particular batch, there is typically nothing else added. 100% Agave Tequila is also aged to different
degrees to achieve deeper smoother flavors. You can read more about the different age
Example 100% Agave Tequila: Herradura
How can I tell what type it is, just by looking at the label ?
By law, if the label or bottle says " 100% Agave " anywhere on it, then it has to be a 100% Agave
product, which can only be bottled in Mexico. If it doesn't say that magic phrase, then it's most likely
a mixed Tequila.
On your quest to find your favorite, you'll probably want to start with a pure Agave Tequila. So now
that you know what type you want, let's move on to the part about "Aged Tequila " ....
100% Agave Tequila is sold in 4 basic age categories:
Blanco or " Silver " Tequila is distilled and then immediately bottled, keeping all of the bright
distinctive Agave flavor intact, as well as that famous Tequila sting in your mouth. Some purist only
drink Blanco Tequila. ( because its not aged ) They say that the aging process ruins the true flavor.
Reposado Tequila is a slightly aged variety. ( By law a minimum of 3 months) Typically the
aging will be done in stainless steel tanks or better yet, oak barrels which may be new or may have
been previously used for whiskey. The aging process mellows the flavor a bit over time and
subdues the more 'harsh' brighter flavors. Aging can also, in some cases, help produce a more
consistent batch of Tequila overall.
Añejo Tequila is aged for a minimum of a year (or more) and for that reason, it usually has a
smoother finish than it's lesser aged counterparts. There is much variety in the type of barrels and
containers used to age it, therefore each batch will have its own distinct flavors and overtones.
However, it should be noted that changes in flavor are not always a good thing. Just because it's older
doesn't necessarily mean that it's better. Sometimes a Tequila will actually taste worse over time, so be
careful what you spend good money on. It would be much better to lose $10 at a bar trying a shot glass full,
than to drop $200 on a whole bottle, only to find that it tasted like a piece of old shoe leather.
Extra Añejo or Ultra-Aged Tequila is a new age category as of 2005. Aged a minimum of 3
years or more, it is the oldest and most expensive Tequila on the market. And I must say, the right
Tequila aged carefully for that long is very tasty. But I also must put emphasis on the phrase " The
right Tequila aged carefully "
...I say that because - again - older is not always better. The flavor and quality of Tequila actually starts to
break down (unlike wine or whiskey) after only a few years. The distilleries selling ultra-aged Tequila are
skirting a very fine line. They are hoping to monitor the aging process carefully enough to sell it at just the
right time....but hopefully not too late.
Just in case you didn't see quite enough already....
Below I have compiled a handy-dandy list of common Tequila distilleries and their brands for your
viewing pleasure, along with a few random comments that vaguely resemble quality reviews.
While reading thru the list below, you will notice that some distilleries might sell 3 or 4 totally
different "looking" products. ( Example below : NOM 1137) But - all of those different looking
products are still produced at the same distillery - and it may very well be the exact same tequila in
every bottle, despite what the label or bottle looks like.
It's called "marketing 101" ....If your product doesn't sell very well "as is", try putting the same
product in different or fancier packaging to make it look like it's worth more.
Don't be a blind consumer. Read up on your favorite NOMs and familiarize yerself with quality
Tequila, not purdy bottles
P.S. Feel free to sign the guestbook or contact me with any questions or comments that you might
Distillery # 1119
Brands : Herradura, El Jimador
One of my favorite Tequilas in the world, Herradura still makes their batches the
all natural old school way.
Distillery # 1118 & # 1449(reposado only)
Brands : Don Julio
Very nice Tequila - flavorful and smooth
Distillery # 1104
Brands : Jose Cuervo (various)
Their %100 Agave products are not too shabby. Not great but not too shabby
Distillery # 1128
Brands : Cazadores
A tasty, moderately priced Tequila. Tastes as good as some costing much more
Distillery # 1137
Brands : Tenoch, Casa Noble, Don Viejo
Not bad Tequilas - but overpriced in fancy bottles.
Distillery # 1146 & # 1139
Brands : 1146 Lapiz, Chamucos, Reserva Del Dueno 1139 El Tesoro
Lapiz is not bad but EL Tesoro and Del Dueno are 2 of the best Tequilas on the
Distillery # 1426 & # 1423
Brands : 1426 Cabo Wabo, Miravalle, 1423 Reyes'
Could be better but neither distilleries are bad
Distillery # 1102
Brands : Sauza, Hornitos
Could be better. Should be better.
Distillery # 1140 & #856
Brands : Cabrito, Chimayo, 856 Porfidio
Cabrito and Chimayo are average. Porfidio is usually good but they don't make it
themselves, they buy their Tequila from different distilleries almost every year -
Distillery # 1420
Brands : Casta, El Milagro
Could be better. Should be better.
Distillery # 1142, #1120, #1068 & #1103
Brands : Puerto Vallarta, Patron, 30-30, Pueblo Viejo
All average Tequilas but not bad for the price. Patron is owned by Seagram's
which is in turn owned by Playboy enterprises.
Distillery # 1360, #1235 & #1368
Brands : Honorable', El Charro, Corralejo
All average quality, but still better than Cuervo LOL
Grouped according to Distillery:
52 bottles, 32 brands from 25 Distilleries