Does the word “tequila” bring to mind shudder-inducing shots on grotty bar nights? You’re not alone; tequila, unfortunately, still has a bit of an image problem (let’s call it a “hangover”) here in the UK. But when people say they don’t like tequila, what they usually mean is that they don’t like *cheap* tequila.
In truth, this spirit – distilled from the blue agave plant in Mexico’s Jalisco state – is one of the most diverse out there. Taste enough, and you’re almost guaranteed to find a tequila you’ll not just tolerate, but actually love drinking.
Style is your first consideration. While sub-classifications abound, there are three main types of tequila – blanco, reposado and añejo. Blanco’s, also known as “silver”, are crystal-clear unaged spirits, akin to vodka or white rum. Añejo’s are aged in barrel for at least a year, taking on honey-brown, whisky-style characteristics. Reposados, stylistically, tend to hover between the two – shorter barrel ageing gives them some oaky character, but still with the freshness of blanco.
We’ve included all the styles in our round up below because they’re good for different things – blanco tequilas for cocktail mixing (hello, margaritas!), and aged ones for meditative sipping. We’ve also endeavoured to include a range of price points, while still keeping things affordable. Like with whisky, fine tequilas, especially those that have been aged, can come in at hundreds of pounds per bottle. We’ve chosen to cap our inclusions at around £100, because unless you’re a real aficionado, that’s probably the most you should consider paying.
One thing we were really strict about? Only including tequilas made from 100 per cent pure blue agave – so no “tequila mixtos” that blend agave with corn or cane sugars.
How we tested
Each of the tequilas below was tasted in the same way: sipped straight from a spirit tasting glass, to let the true character shine. Aside from taste, we also took into account sourcing, story, packaging and value for money. And while in many cases we tasted a range of tequilas from the same brand, we’ve only included a maximum of one from each – the one that we think is most worth your money.
The best tequilas for 2023 are:
- Best overall – G4 Blanco: £41.95, Thewhiskyexchange.com
- Best for whisky lovers – Storywood speyside 14 añejo: £53.99, Storywoodtequila.com
- Best bargain – El Jimador blanco: £27.44, Masterofmalt.com
- Best sipping blanco – Mijenta Blanco: £49.95, Thewhiskyexchange.com
- Best for richer cocktails – Cazcabel Reposado: £25.99, Masterofmalt.com
- Best for T&Ts – El Rayo plata: £34.45, Masterofmalt.com
- Best for tequila sceptics – 1800 Cristalino tequila: £54.45, Thewhiskyexchange.com
- Best classic reposado – Herradura reposado: £43, Amazon.co.uk
- Best blended blanco – Maestro Dobel diamante cristalino 100% agave tequila: £52, Amazon.co.uk
- Best for sweet tooths – Padre Azul añejo: £108.95, Masterofmalt.com
- Best for summery drinking – Código rosa: £46.24, Masterofmalt.com
- Best low-key celeb tequila – AquaRiva reposado: £32.75, Thewhiskyexchange.com
- Best for Instagramming – Vivir blanco: £40.95, Masterofmalt.com