Any wild night out to a bar or club might involve a shot or two of tequila. It’s not just that the Mexican liquor itself is popular, but the spirit is often associated with having a good time. Tequila can only be produced in certain areas of Mexico, as it’s derived from a native agave plant, so it has a wildly different flavor than liquors like vodka and rum. Tequila may be most often consumed as a shot or in margaritas, but there are some premium tequilas that are designed to be savored.
A sipping tequila is meant to be enjoyed slowly, either neat or over the rocks, like you would a nice scotch or whiskey. Sipping tequilas tend to fall in the "añejo" or "extra añejo" categories (translating to "old" in Spanish), which means that the agave-derived liquor is aged either 1-3 years or 3+ years, respectively (via Insider). However, some sipping tequilas do fall into the other three categories — blanco (or a clean tequila that is usually not aged), joven (a "young" blend of blanco and an aged tequila), and reposado (a "rested" tequila aged between 60 days and one year).
Distilled Spirits reports that tequila/mezcal was the second-fasted growing spirit category in 2021, so it’s more popular than ever. The higher-end tequilas are also seeing a boom — super-premium tequila has seen a 1330% growth since 2003. If sipping a complex tequila interest you, we have a few suggestions for trying something new.
How we select the products
Considering high-end tequilas have seen an increase in popularity in recent years, there are plenty of tried and true reviews of popular brands to garner insight as to which are the best. At Mashed, we take into consideration press buzz, online reviews, and general popularity when it comes to picking brands. Additionally, there are a few high-end tequilas popular among influencers and celebrities whose taste rivals the hype. Some websites, like Tequila Matchmaker or Sip Tequila, feature hundreds of user-generation reviews to explain the tasting notes and overall value of some of the top tequilas on the market.
Additionally, some options on the list are selected because they serve different functions. For example, a tequila that costs less than $100 but rivals some of the priciest options on the list in taste deserves a shout-out. Also, we selected one tequila from each of the five major subcategories to help you pick a spirit totally based on your personal preference.
Best overall sipping tequila
It’s difficult to pick an overall best sipping tequila because there are so many great options that totally vary in flavor. However, El Tesoro’s Extra Añejo is worthy of the title because it completely embodies everything that a good tequila should be.
El Tesoro has been around since 1937, and the master distiller is currently the grandson of the original founder of La Alteña distillery. The extra añejo blend pays homage to its creator Don Felipe Camarena by being the epitome of great tequila. This spirit is aged in bourbon barrels for four to five years, which gives it an uncanny depth of flavor. While its tasting notes are varied, that signature Jalisco Blue Weber Agave shines through. La Alteña does things old-school when processing agave piñas — they smash them under a two-ton volcanic tahona stone to extract the pulp (via El Tesoro).
El Tesoro’s Extra Añejo is heavy with flavors of coffee and caramel, but the agave is present from first smell to finish. One 2020 review on Tequila Matchmaker declares this blend to be as close to perfect as it gets. "This is the best new tequila I’ve tried in a while. No nonsense clean-tasting tequila, that’s agave-forward with a touch of vanilla, oak, and cut grass before going down sooooo smooth," the review reads.
As of May 2022, you can find El Tesoro’s Extra Añejo for around $169.99 at Total Wine.
Best budget sipping tequila
If shelling out $100+ to try a new tequila isn’t for you, there are plenty of amazing options at lower price points that pack plenty of flavor. Aldez Tequila’s Reposado rings up for about $55 a bottle, but that doesn’t mean it’s lacking in complexity. Aldez launchd their organic tequila company in 2018 and have released a handful of varieties since (via Aldez Tequila). Reposado tends to be the version that really warms you up, and Aldez’s recipe is no different.
Aldez Tequila Reposado is bursting with notes of caramel, cinnamon, and vanilla. Similar to El Tesoro, this tequila is aged in bourbon barrels, but only for about eight months. As pointed out in a 2021 review on Tequila Matchmaker, this tequila has the complexity that you expect to see in an añejo, but it is still distinctly a reposado. "Very complex flavor profile. Impressive," the reviewer wrote.
You can buy a bottle of Aldez Tequila Reposado for $55 on Mash & Grape.
Best sipping tequila to splurge on
On the opposite end of the price spectrum, Gran Patron Burdeos is a high end tequila that costs a few hundred dollars a bottle. However, there’s no other tequila on the market quite like it. This deep amber tequila a luxury añejo by definition, but the taste is more similar to cognac or whiskey than something you’d expect to taste in a margarita.
Gran Patron Burdeos is a pretty limited offering, as crafting it is no easy feat. Patron takes the finest parts of weber blue agave and distills the blend twice. First, it’s aged in American and new French oak barrels before finishing up in vintage Bordeaux wine barrels, which its complexity can be attributed to (via Patron) This tequila is velvety like a full-bodied wine, but with notes of oak, vanilla, and raisins that drive forward the aged liquor factor. A review from Whiskey Ice explains that if you drank this without seeing the bottle, you’d likely be unable to guess that it was a tequila. "What is surprising is that the typical sharpness of pepper and smoke that usually comes from blue agave is virtually absent; making this one of the smoothest tequilas one can drink," the review reads.
While some people understandably can’t justify the price, many tried and true samplers think it’s worth it. "Best tequila on the market," one review reads.
You can grab a bottle of Gran Patron Burdeos for $510 at Reserve Bar.
Best sipping tequila for beginners
If your knowledge of tequila is pretty limited, it’s likely you are at least familiar with Don Julio 1942. It’s the tequila of high-end clubs and parties that’s almost too smooth, which makes it shockingly simple to have one too many. It’s an añejo that runs on the sweeter side, but the spirit has a lot of brightness to round it out. Don Julio 1942 is aged for 2.5 years, and features warm notes of vanilla and oak (via Don Julio).
Don Julio 1942 is the drink of the rich and famous, which makes sense when it comes out to about $160 a bottle as of May 2022. The list of stars who have posted on their social media with this recognizable bottle are endless, including Kylie Jenner, Michael B. Jordan, and Nick Jonas, to name a few (via Refinery29). It’s the notoriety that makes it so popular, as well as a brand name that’s been around since the year on the bottle.
Not that the drink itself is at all a bad añejo, but it’s not as complex as some other bottles at the price point, as Liquor.com’s review points out. However, on a night out if you’re looking to sip on something new and fancy, you can’t go wrong with Don Julio 1942 on the rocks. If anything, you can try it once just to say you did.
Grab a bottle of Don Julio 1942 for $162.83 at Specs.
Most unique sipping tequila
Every tequila is different, but there are certain qualities that you expect out of a good tequila on the rocks. Tequila brand 21 Seeds takes everything that you think you know about tequila and turns it upside down with their grapefruit hibiscus flavor. Most flavored tequilas aren’t exactly known for being something to sip on the rocks. The flavoring is usually just a way to mask the alcohol further, so it can be incorporated into a cocktail. That said, 21 Seeds Grapefruit Hibiscus, deserves to be tasted all on its own.
At $30 a bottle, this is an easy option to pick up at your local liquor store when you’re hankering for something different. As you’d expect, it’s a fruit-forward flavor, but with the bright smoothness of a nice white wine. It makes sense as the creator of 21 Seeds wanted to make a flavored tequila that channels the feeling of drinking a glass of vino. It’s great in cocktails, but don’t underestimate the power of it straight up.
Reviews on ABC Fine Wine & Spirits recommend this bottle for sipping, including one reviewer from earlier this year who says they already bought four bottles of the flavor. "Amazingly wonderful smooth taste for tequila, just a hint of grapefruit, but the taste of hibiscus was wonderful, highly recommend this, smooth and satisfying, left me wanting more, which I did," another fan wrote.
Grab some 21 Seeds Grapefruit Hibiscus for $29.99 at Old Town Tequila.
Best blanco sipping tequila
If you want to impress expert tequila drinkers, bring a bottle of Tequila Ocho Plata to your next get-together. Tequila Ocho Plata is the cream of the crop when it comes to blancos. A good blanco isn’t aged, so it has to be smooth, clean, and crisp in order to sip neat. It’s a fair priced bottle at $50 as of May 2022 and worth keeping on your bar shelf.
Don’t just take our word for it — Tequila Ocho won the Chairman’s Trophy at the 2020 Ultimate Spirits Challenge (via Forbes). The blanco has notes of pepper that you’d expect from a silver tequila, but they are paired with a bright citrus element that gives it a tropical vibe. If you look at reviews on Tequila Matchmaker, it’s clear that depending on what year your bottle is from, it can have completely different tasting elements. However, the crispy, clean, fruity flavor seems to be present in most. "At 500 pesos in Mexico this is IMO one of the best blancos (if not the best) for the money so it wins some points for value," one fan wrote about the 2021 La Mula bottle of Ocho Plata.
You can purchase Tequila Ocho Plata for around $49.96 on Drizly.
Best joven sipping tequila
Joven tequilas aren’t as common, probably because they are technically a blend of two other types of tequila. It’s mainly a blanco with a splash of añejo to add depth. It’s one of those spirits that, when executed correctly, can totally open your eyes up to new possibilities. That’s exactly what happens upon your first sip of Casa Dragones Joven.
Casa Dragones Joven is a small-batch tequila that’s been around for over a decade, and it blends Blue Agave silver with a bit of extra-aged tequila rested in oak barrels. Back in 2013, Wine Enthusiast listed Casa Dragones Joven as its top-rated tequila, giving it a whopping 96 out of 100 ranking (via Casa Dragones). This tequila is nowhere near cheap — ringing up at $250 as of May 2022.
Despite the high price tag, at-home tequila drinkers seem to agree that this is worth the splurge. Most Flaviar reviews commend its smooth taste and refined finish. "Highly recommend this to anyone who appreciates the notes and actual taste of fine tequila," one fan wrote. Even Thirsty Magazine highlighted the spirit in 2018, declaring it the single sipping tequila that everyone must try.
Casa Dragones Joven is available at Sidewalk Spirits for $249.95.
Best Reposado sipping tequila
As you enter categories of tequilas that are aged for longer periods, they are almost, by design, better created for sipping. If you’re not a dark liquor person, trying out a good reposado is a nice way to dip your toe into aged tequilas without going all-in. A reasonably priced option is Siete Leguas Reposado, which costs about $50 as of April 2022. This tequila is aged for eight months in American oak barrels at one of the oldest distilleries in Mexico (via Tequila.net). It has a pleasant earthy undertone, as well as warm qualities like vanilla, herbs, and toasted oak.
For having a spicy element to it, it’s shockingly smooth, which allows you to truly savor its distinct flavor. "Smooth beyond smooth. Possibility the best tequila I’ve ever had, absolutely the most smooth," one favorable review on Flaviar reads. Another fan of the product gave a review two years ago warned people to not do as they first did and "waste" this tasty spirit by diluting it in a margarita.
You can buy Siete Leguas Reposado for $50 at Binny’s Beverage Depot.
Best Añejo sipping tequila
Añejos are the class of tequila that will add a few hairs to your chest. They’re dark and often full of rich flavor thanks to their age. There’s no better way to sample what makes a truly great añejo than by trying Casa Noble. Casa Noble, which has been around since the late-90s, ages their añejo in French oak barrels and triple distill it, so its finish is as smooth as its flavor is bold.
The tasting notes on Casa Noble’s añejo are very distinct, including aspects of dried fruit and savory spices. However, unlike some other añejos, you would never mistake this for a dark liquor — the agave notes shine through. "When they tell you tequila is a sipping drinking they are completely right, especially once you find a good brand," one five-star review on Influenster in 2018 reads. Other tried and true fans also commend it as a great option to avoid a hangover because it’s so refined, but drinking too much of anything might leave you with a headache the next day.
Casa Noble Añejo is available for about $58 on Drizly.
Best extra añejo sipping tequila
Tears of La Llorona is a well-known Latin American legend about a woman scorned and in agony, who’s ghost is allegedly heard weeping all around Mexico (via Library of Congress). Germán González Gorrochotegui captured the passion behind the story in his specially crafted Tears of Llorona tequila, which he began selling in the U.S. in 2014 (via Tears of Llorona). Unlike Casa Noble, it’s easy to mistake this tequila for something like a cognac. This extra añejo has a rich amber color and a strong amount of alcohol, meaning that it’s meant to be sipped slowly out of classy glassware.
Tears of Llorona is aged for five years in three different barrels — scotch, brandy, and Sherry oak, giving it a super complex flavor. It’s hard to describe all of the different notes going on in this spirit — it’s warm and spicy while also being sweet and smooth. It’s one of those liquors you want to pour and let sit for a second, so that it really opens up and develops all of its flavors. "This sipping tequila should be savored and cherished," Tequila Reviews 2021 review reads. "If you really take your time to enjoy this tequila you’ll get the flavors they intended to bring you from each individual barrel that the tequila was rested in."
Grab a bottle of Tears of Llorona for about $266.99 as of May 2022 on Caskers.
Absolute must-try sipping tequila
In a sea of beautifully ornate glass liquor bottles, Clase Azul’s hand-painted ceramic decanters stand out. The brand’s tequila decanters are made and painted by hand by Mexican artisans, so they’re not something to recycle after you finish a bottle (via Clase Azul). Sure, Clase Azul Reposado may not be the boldest or more complex tequila on the market. However, it has a status as "the Chanel of tequila brands" and in 2022 the brand will open a bar/art space in Brooklyn called the Clase Azul Loft (via Fodors). Its popularity makes it worth seeking out to try at least once, especially if you see this noticeable bottle behind the bar.
Clase Azul ages their reposado for eight months in American whiskey caskets, exemplifying the flavors of oak, vanilla, and caramel. It has the slight spiciness of a reposado, but with a bit of a sweeter finish than you might be used to. A review on Luxury Latin America points out that the sweet finish could make it an optimal after-dinner drink. "But it’ll be an after-dinner drink with a lot more complexity that some of the syrupy things that often show up on that section of the menu," the review reads.
You can find Clase Azul Reposado at ABC Fine Wine & Spirits for about $160 a bottle.