16 best tequilas taste tested, for sipping, cocktails and more

February 13, 2024
16-best-tequilas-taste-tested,-for-sipping,-cocktails-and-more
16 best tequilas taste tested, for sipping, cocktails and more

Tequila is an agave-based spirit that can only be produced in certain parts of Mexico (just like champagne has to come from a particular region of France). It’s been around for centuries and is made using the pineapple-shaped heart of the agave plant. When done right, tequila is a silky smooth drink, with light touches of citrus. Some tequilas are ideal for cocktails: start with a classic margarita or try a colourful tequila sunrise with grenadine and orange juice. Other tequilas – especially pure versions, made with 100% agave – can be enjoyed in a short glass with ice. Depending on the style of tequila, the notes and aromas can vary from rich, buttery fudge and toffee to sharp citrus and herbaceous flavours.

Our drinks expert Brendan Hodrien is a lifestyle writer who specialises in drinks reviews and he has found 16 top tequilas to buy. He has previously written about the best drinks for The Independent, The i and Evening Standard, more often than not waxing lyrical about Islay whiskies.

Read on to discover the best buys, including bottles from big names in the tequila world such as Patrón, VIVIR, Fortaleza and Herradura, as well as unique artisan bottles perfect for gifting to a tequila fan. Whether you’re after a bottle to make tequila and tonics, an authentic tequila or want to try something new with mezcal or sotol, we’ve got the bottle for you.

Read on to discover our pick of the best tequila. For more, visit our reviews section and find taste-tests for piscoginvodkarum and more.

The best tequila to buy at a glance

  • Best floral tequila: Código 1530 Rosa tequila, £45.75
  • Best for a tequila and tonic: El Rayo Plata tequila, £39.95
  • Best big brand tequila: Patrón Reposado tequila, £55.25
  • Best unusual bottle: Kah Blanco tequila, £41.99
  • Best traditional tequila: Jose Cuervo Tradicional Silver tequila, £36.95
  • Best Mexican highlands tequila: Cazcabel Reposado tequila, £30.95
  • Best authentic tequila: Rooster Rojo blanco tequila, £25.95
  • Best award-winning tequila: 1800 Silver tequila, £38.95
  • Best premium authentic tequila: Fortaleza Reposado, £72.60
  • Best artisan mezcal: Del Maguey Vida mezcal, £55
  • Best budget tequila: Tapatio Reposado tequila, £28.95
  • Best blended tequila: Gran Centenario reposado tequila, £43.95
  • Best mezcal: QuiQuiRiQui Matatlan mezcal, £42.99
  • Best añejo tequila: Herradura añejo tequila, £58.75
  • Best blanco tequila: Ocho blanco tequila, £27.25
  • Best blowout tequila: Gran Patrón Piedra tequila, £229

The best tequila taste tested 2024

Código 1530 Rosa tequila

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Best floral tequila

This ultra-premium tequila is backed by American country music singer, George Strait. A family recipe let loose just over a decade ago, the Código 1530 is a super-smooth spirit that will encourage you to rethink how you feel about tequila. It’s full of bright fruits and silky agave, owing to the month it spent in cabernet wine barrels. Read our full Código 1530 Rosa tequila review.

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El Rayo Plata tequila

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Best for a tequila and tonic

Smooth, modern tequila, made for a T&T (tequila and tonic). This bottle is the passion project of a couple of young Brits who fell in love with tequila and quit their day jobs for the cause. Smooth and herbaceous, tonic helps bring out the more complex and oily citrus notes of this impressive, peppery spirit. Read our full El Rayo Plata tequila review.

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Patrón Reposado tequila

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Best big brand tequila

Patrón likes to say it didn’t invent tequila – just perfected it. Famed for coffee liqueur and an exquisite line of tequilas, Patrón’s briefly aged expression is smooth with vanilla and vibrant with citrus, oozing with silky agave and honey. Read our full Patrón Reposado tequila review.

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Kah Blanco tequila

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Best unusual bottle

A fascinating-looking bottle of tequila that celebrates an equally fascinating local custom. This earthy, citrus-laced tequila comes in a hand-finished calavera (skull-shaped bottle) in tribute to the traditions of Mexico’s Day of the Dead. Read our full Kah Blanco tequila review.

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Jose Cuervo Tradicional Silver tequila

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Best traditional tequila

The ideal cocktail base from the world’s oldest and biggest tequila brand. Jose Cuervo Tradicional Silver is a premium offering from this mammoth distillery – it’s a slick, 100 per cent agave spirit that has well-balanced smoothness and sweetness. It’s perfect for a margarita. Read our full Jose Cuervo Tradicional Silver tequila review.

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Cazcabel Reposado tequila

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Best Mexican highlands tequila

Straight from the highlands of Jalisco (a coastal Mexican state) is this deliciously balanced tequila, made with one eye on the past and one eye on the future. Truly an artisan offering, the distillery itself is based in the highlands, putting the operation close to where the agave is grown. Cazcabel Reposado is chewy with caramel and punchy with cinnamon and pepper – it makes an excellent Mexican negroni. Read our full Cazcabel Reposado tequila review.

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Rooster Rojo blanco tequila

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Best authentic tequila

Tequila from the town of Tequila (in the Mexican state of Jalisco) itself. This bottle comes from the Fabrica de Tequilas Finos distillery, a producer of many fine spirits. Rooster Rojo blanco is the brainchild of esteemed master distiller, Arturo Fuentes Cortes. It’s full of herbaceous and citrus flavours, sparked to life by fiery pepper. Read our full Rooster Rojo blanco tequila review.

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1800 Silver tequila

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Best award-winning tequila

Jose Cuervo’s premium cousin, 1800 tequila was made to celebrate the year when tequila was first successfully aged in wood. This 100 per cent agave tequila is smooth and refreshing, slick with notes of aloe vera and hints of citrus. Read our full 1800 Silver tequila review.

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Fortaleza Reposado

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Best premium authentic tequila

Made to an age-old recipe using age-old processes and age-old equipment, this is an ultra-authentic tequila. Fortaleza Reposado is dry at points but also bursting with citrus, full of sticky sweetness with caramel and toffee ahead of orchard fruits. Read our full Fortaleza Reposado review.

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Del Maguey Vida mezcal

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Best artisan mezcal

Del Maguey is the brainchild of Californian artist turned mezcal maestro Ron Cooper, who has been importing this agave spirit since 1995. It has since become the darling spirit of the hipster world. This example shows how different it can taste from tequila, with smoky elements and an earthy undertone.

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Tapatio Reposado tequila

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Best budget tequila

This reposado (meaning ‘rested’ for between two and 12 months) is made from 100% blue agave by one of the true godfathers of tequila production, Carlos Camarena. Expect rich, buttery notes alongside a distinct citrus freshness. Slight earthy notes come from the ex-bourbon casks in which it is rested for around four months.

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Gran Centenario reposado tequila

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Best blended tequila

This reposado tequila spends around 10 months maturing in French wine casks. It’s then blended with other tequilas to develop a distinct, vanilla-tinged floral top note.

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QuiQuiRiQui Matatlan mezcal

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Best mezcal

QuiQuiRiQui (translating to ‘cock-a-doodle-doo’) is a mezcal that ranges in flavour as you sip it, from smoky to sugary sweet and peppery at the end. It comes from Matatlan, the home of mezcal in Mexico.

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Herradura añejo tequila

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Best añejo tequila

An añejo is a tequila that’s rested in oak for longer than a year, but fewer than three years. Herradura was founded in 1870 and still makes its product in the exact same way. Notes of sweet vanilla, toffee popcorn and black pepper mark this out as excellent example of an añejo tequila.

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Ocho blanco tequila

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Best blanco tequila

This spirit places heavy focus on the very essence of tequila: agave. Each batch comes from a different field or rancho, contributing distinctive characteristics of that terrain. It’s produced in conjunction with Tomas Estes, an official Tequila Ambassador for the Mexican Government.

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Gran Patrón Piedra tequila

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Best blowout tequila

A definite treat-yourself tequila (just look at the price), Patrón’s extra añejo is made from 100% blue weber agave from the highlands of Jalisco. This tequila is matured in both American and French oak casks and has notes more akin to whisky than tequila.

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This review was last updated in February 2024. If you have any questions, suggestions for future reviews or spot anything that has changed in price or availability please get in touch at goodfoodwebsite@immediate.co.uk.

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