Between the rich soil and warm climate, Mexico is the perfect region to create amazing tequila. There are several places where tequila is made within Mexico, but the beautiful Highlands of Jalisco is the most common and often produces the absolute best of the best when it comes to this bright agave spirit. It’s such a large and popular fixture in Jalisco, in fact, that tequila was named after a town in the region. That’s what makes the best Mexican tequila such true treasures – they’ve managed to shine just a little bit brighter.
Aged to perfection and beautifully flavored, all of these expressions make for wonderful sippers. With so many brands competing for the limelight, it’s hard to find the best, but we can certainly try!
Sipping isn’t something you usually associate with tequila (tequila shots are much more common), but these ones might just change your mind with their specific flavors and smooth palates. Don’t count them out of your cocktails, though. It’s these qualities that also make them the perfect base for any premium cocktails that need some balance and/or pronounced flavors.
P.S. There are many more expressions that didn’t make it onto this list, including some seriously expensive ones. What are your favorites?
The Best Mexican Tequila
1. Don Julio 1942
Don Julio is a well-known, premium quality brand of tequila in Mexico, America, and beyond. Don Julio 1942 is among the best of the best and is named for the year that founder Don Julio Gonzalez entered into the world of tequila-making. He began distilling at just 17 years old, in the infamous Highlands of Jalisco where the tequila is hand-crafted to perfection among the rich clay soil.
Every single bottle of Don Julio is made from 100 percent pure agave that has been grown to perfection for seven to 10 years. The agave is only harvested by experts to preserve the quality and integrity of each plant.
Once harvested and hand-cut, the pinas are steam-cooked in masonry ovens for a solid three days, allowing the sweet juices to release. This iconic expression is made in small batches to ensure quality, while quantity is not overlooked, either. It takes about eight pounds of agave to make each bottle of tequila.
On the nose, this tequila has notes of oak and toffee with an herbal touch. The palate is smooth and well-rounded with notes of spice, mint, cracked pepper, and butterscotch. If you’re looking for a tequila to sip, this is the one!
2. Herradura Ultra Anejo
Anejo tequila is already considered the top of the tequila range thanks to its aging requirements, so this Herradura Ultra Anejo is yet another step above. It’s based on their basic anejo expression, with some extra steps taken to make it even more premium. In addition to having all impurities removed during the charcoal filtration process, a dash of pure agave nectar is added to enhance the flavor and add stronger notes of cooked agave to the palate.
The company’s story all began in 1870 when Felix Lopez began growing blue weber agave in the field of Jalisco, Mexico. The crops have been tended to by experts ever since, with the fully matured plants reaching two meters high and about 500 pounds. Descendants of the original estate are still the ones working on this classic tequila.
The profile is a complex one, opening on the nose with notes of sweet fruit with vanilla, citrus, spice, and cooked agave. The palate follows with more agave, backed by caramel, toasted almonds, and honey. The finish is smooth and lovely with a touch of spice and a nice, lingering sweetness.
3. Roca Patron Silver
Patron is an amazing and iconic brand in the world of tequila, and for good reason. They have a diverse and good-quality range of tequilas, offering something in every category. Roca Patron Silver is a special silver expression named for the Spanish word for “rock.”
It’s named as such due to the centuries-old tradition of crafting tequila with a volcanic stone weighing two tons. Though old, the approach is still effective and is exactly how Roca Patron is made.
Patron has only been in operation since 1989, which only adds to the impressive nature of the company – it’s grown to fame and success despite being incredibly young compared to the great number of legacy brands out there. Patron was the first spirits brand of its class to sell one million cases, shortly after the opening of a brand new facility in 2002.
Once harvested, the agave plants are crushed by the volcanic stone, where fibers are broken down. The resulting mixture is then slow roasted for about 79 hours before it’s fermented with wooden vats. Finally, it’s distilled in small batches with handmade copper stills, where the agave naturally produces an earthy flavor, complemented by notes of citrus and black pepper and a complex finish.
4. El Jimador Reposado
El Jimador Reposado is nothing short of impressive. A Double Gold Medal from the 2012 San Francisco World Spirits Competition is one of more than 25 awards given to the expression over the years. This one began in 1870 when the distillery was founded in Jalisco, Mexico. Fully appreciating the hard work of those in the fields, the brand was named after the Jimadores, the expert tequila harvesters, working hard day in and day out among the plants.
Once harvested, the agaves are hand-cut to reveal the pinas, which are roasted in a clay oven before they’re distilled twice and rested for about two months in American oak bourbon barrels. Here, they reach perfect maturation, donning a beautiful golden color and the most exquisite flavor suitable for both sipping and cocktails.
The nose offers enticing notes of vanilla with fruit, spice, and toasted wood, topped off with the delightful aroma of cooked agave. The palate offers a complex array of fruit, wood, spice, and vanilla with subtle notes of toasted hazelnuts. The finish is soft, warm, and long with vanilla, spice, and oak.
5. Casa Dragones Anejo Barrel Blend
Casa Dragones is another well-known brand of premium tequila. Made from 100 percent blue agave, it’s aged in new French and New American oak barrels. Once properly rested, it’s carefully blended to create a deliberate, expertly crafted, and delightful profile.
Casa Dragones is a small-batch producer. The brand was founded in 2008 by Robert Pittman from MTV who worked with tequila expert Bertha Gonzolas Nieves who became the first woman to earn the title of “Maestra Tequilara.”
The brand uses modern and innovative processes while working hard to remain sustainable. The process was created to ultimately produce the cleanest, smoothest tequila possible. Their goal is achieved in this Anejo Barrel Blend with its exquisite smoothness and incredible clarity.
On the nose is a bright profile of juniper, figs, oak, and pine with macadamia, blackberry, and nutmeg on the palate. The finish is long with notes of pepper and cocoa.
Premium Tequila Cocktails
You’re in for a real treat when you use these premium Mexican tequilas in a cocktail. You can always try them in a nice classic like a margarita or paloma. You can’t go wrong here and you’ll certainly notice the difference with these smooth, robust expressions. Aside from the classics, though, there are so many different cocktails out there that really allow premium expressions like these to shine. Broaden your horizons a little with one of these fun, quality drinks:
This rich, fruity cocktail comes recommended by Patron. Of course, they suggest using Patron tequila in the drink, but you can try it with any expression you’d like for different nuances.
- 1.5 ounces Patron silver
- 1 ounce cranberry juice
- 1 ounce grapefruit juice
- 1 ounce lemonade
- Lemon wedge for garnish
As delicious and delectable as it is, it’s simple. All you must do here is combine the ingredients in a rocks glass with ice. Stir them around a little and add your lemon wedge garnish! The cranberry and grapefruit juices come together really nicely here for a sharp, tart citrusy flavor with the perfect amount of sweetness from the lemonade. It’s crisp, well-balanced, and perfect for summer!
Don Julio Cold Brew Cocktail
This one comes from Don Julio, who recommends a nice, smooth reposado for this mix, which combines the infamous morning drink with the smooth, crisp flavors of tequila for the perfect pick-me-up!
- 1.5 ounces reposado tequila
- 2 ounces milk
- 1 ounce cold brew coffee
This cocktail is indeed a bit more involved than others as you must first make some cold brew coffee, but that’s also the beauty of it! Between the type of coffee you make and your chosen style of milk, the flavor options here are endless.
Regular milk will create a classic experience, whereas nut milk will add another level of flavor. Start with your favorites as these will produce expected flavors, but have some fun branching out once you’ve mastered the recipe!