Tequila is a distillate of the blue agave plant, primarily grown around the city of Tequila, Mexico in the central region of the country. It is traditionally distilled to between 31-55% alcohol, but is most commonly found at 40%. It is often described as briney and vegetal while still light and citrusy. Depending on the age, wood/oak can become a predominant flavor.
Below are some of my, and others in the industry’s, favorite tequilas that out punch their price range (Prices are from Total Wine and More’s Website for consistency)
- Epsolon ($17.99)
“That age is evident: this tequila has scrumptious sweet notes like vanilla and toffee that come with prolonged aging.” –Aliza Kellerman (Vine Pair)
This is a phenomenal tequila even without considering the price. I have seen this as a well in numerous, prestigious cocktail bars. If you can find this bottle at this price, pick up at least one, you will not be disappointed!
- Sausa ($13.99)
“That is why the 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.” –Colleen Graham
This is the cheapest on the list, and if you are on a serious budget, this is the way to go. Would I pour it on the rocks, no, but would I gladly serve it in margaritas at a party, absolutely!
- Lunazul ($16.99)
“Made from 100 percent blue agave, this tequila is state grown, distilled and bottled. This tequila is perfect for cocktails and pairs well with tropical fruit juices like pineapple and passion fruit.” –Dillion Mafit (Supercall)
I don’t have as much experience with this tequila, but the little I do, it works well in cocktails and has more of a fruity taste.
- Camarena Repasado ($18.99)
it wasn’t something I would sip on, but it wasn’t nearly as unbalanced and astringent as many bargain tequilas. I imagine that it would be excellent for a margarita or paloma.” – Scarlet (Taste Tequilla)
Aged 60 days in oak leads to the more mellow and barrel taste, while still maintaining those excellent agave notes.
- El Jimador ($15.49)
“El Jimador is smooth and crisp, tasting of fresh agave and citrus. It’s not a super-complex sipper, but if you’re looking to finally graduate from plastic-jug tequila, El Jimador should be your first stop.” –Michael Deitsch (Serious Eats)
Probably my go to tequila recommendation, it is extremely plentiful and recognizable for first time buyers, and tastes much better than the mixtos (not 100% agave) posing as tequila. This bottle often provides a rebate through Ibotta (future post to come)
If you want to spend a little more…
- Milagro ($22.99)
“We’ve seen this guy at plenty of bars, and it’s no wonder why: it’s subtle, a little savory, and best of all inexpensive” –Aliza Kellerman (Vine Pair)
As quoted, if it isn’t Espolon at the bar, it is this one. Once you try it, you will see why it is a bar staple, being very light and smooth is works great in numerous cocktails and provides that traditional agave taste.
- Grand Centenario ($28.99)
Gran Centenario Plata isn’t really a complex tequila; it’s smooth and refreshing, with citrus overtones and some grassiness. Though it’s a simple tequila, it’s satisfying and tasty” –Michael Deitsch (Serious Eats)
Great tasting and an even better bottle design. Delicious and bright citrus notes lead to a phenomenally refreshing spirit.