In taking a step up from the below $50 tequilas to the under-$100 price range, the focus narrows but the quality only increases. Where the former selection encapsulates a broad range of styles and expressions, the latter hones in on the many ways in which oak maturation can subtly manipulate the agave distillate.
The following releases highlight the numerous approaches to aging tequila. While balance and precision are always the prized end goal, some producers choose to showcase the many gifts oak can bestow on the spirit while others seek to ensure the distinct profile of agave shines brightest. Each individual interpretation succeeds in its own way and offers an elevated drinking experience — worthy of the elevated price point.
Here are the 10 best tequilas under $100, tasted and ranked.
10. Avión Añejo
The pale gold hue of this añejo suggests a deft touch during oak maturation and the notion is quickly confirmed after tasting. At no point does the oak influence overpower the base distillate, with pineapple, green mango, and fresh jalapeño flavors joined by rich vanilla and a hint of licorice. Average price: $50.
9. Jose Cuervo Reserva De La Familia Reposada
Arriving on the headier, more obviously oak-influenced end of the reposado spectrum, this tequila still exhibits balance and individual character. Its aromas are rich in red berry notes, with a sprinkle of spice at the finish. The oak comes into play on the palate, delivering coconut, cloves, and baking spices, which integrate nicely with the red berry notes that carry through from the nose. This is richer than most reposados but there’s no denying its credentials as a complex sipping spirit. Average price: $84.
8. Casa Noble Añejo
Despite its deep amber color, earthy and peppery fresh agave notes lead the aromas on this añejo. Luscious oak emerges on the palate, but mingles well with the now-cooked agave notes. A spectrum of baking spice and toasted woody notes, and a streak of sweet vanilla, make this a great option for Añejo Old Fashioneds. Average price: $56.
7. Tequila Partida Cristalino Añejo
Aged for 18 months in ex-bourbon barrels, this cristalino añejo arrives with all of the hallmarks of extended maturation but none of the color. When you break through the mist of vanilla and American oak, ripe fruity character emerges. The spicier edges have been smoothed out and the final profile lands in tropical fruit cheesecake territory, topped with a dollop of dulce de leche. This is a decadent tequila and a dessert in a glass. Average price: $57.
6. El Tequileño Platinum
This blanco tequila rests for a minimum of 14 days in American oak prior to bottling, though the two-week period takes nothing away from its vibrant, fresh character. Expect tropical fruit and briny jalapeño notes, and exhilarating spice. After appreciating its character neat, this bottle begs to be enjoyed as an upscale Margarita or refreshing Ranch Water. Average price: $53.
5. La Gran Señora Reposado
Beyond its golden hue, there’s barely a suggestion that this reposado has spent any significant period in oak. Its aromas capture tropical fruit, bruised herbs, and fiery jalapeño spice. The palate has a lithe texture but serves intense green olive and cooked agave flavors. This is a remarkably polished reposado tequila that’s ideal for cocktail creation. Average price: $54.
4. Código 1530 Rosa Blanco
This rosé tequila is a notable outlier but by no means is it gimmicky. It gains a striking pink color via a one-month resting period in barrels that previously held Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. Delivering all the fresh vibrancy of blanco tequila, the oak finishing adds an extra layer of floral and berry notes. So good are the results that this expression begs the question of why other producers are not experimenting with similar red-wine-kissed releases. Average price: $65.
3. Tequila Ocho Reposado
Epitomizing the finest examples of reposado, this tequila maintains all the integrity of agave and builds on it with subtle oak influence. Its aromas and flavors arrive with intensity, and span a broad spectrum from floral honey and briny bell pepper to luscious agave syrup. The finish reveals the time spent in oak, with vanilla and butterscotch notes creating a luxurious conclusion. Average price: $55.
2. Patrón Añejo
The marriage of wood and agave distillate is seamless in this añejo. The spirit maintains all the character of Patrón Silver while the maturation adds decadent dried fruits and vanilla. This is the ideal option for vegetal or spiced riffs on your favorite whiskey cocktails. But there’s equal pleasure in pouring it over a large rock of ice. Average price: $56.
1. El Tesoro Añejo
The yin to Patrón’s yang, this is one of the lightest añejo tequilas you will ever encounter. Perfumed and attractive throughout, its aromas recall tropical fruit and brined green vegetables. The oak adds body and weight without taking anything from the base distillate, making this better suited for Margaritas than Manhattans. With incredible energy, texture, and spice, this is one of the best tequilas out there. Average price: $56.
Published: April 30, 2021