The renowned agave distillate that calls Jalisco home is made as Blancos, Reposados, Añejos—with the amount of time spent aging distinguishing each version. While extra Añejos are as beautifully complex as a good scotch, they still elevate your margarita. But some Blancos—like Tequila Casa Dragones Joven included here—are so perfect, they can stand on their own, making a fun stand-in for Champagne.
Casa Noble Tequila
This year, in celebration of agave, planted 20 years ago, Casa Noble Tequila released the oldest tequila made from them: Selección del Fundador Volume II. Allowed to grow for 12 years—nearly twice as long as most agaves—the plants yielded a juice that was distilled three times before aging for 8 years. Hermosillo gave the choice of barrels for the extra añejo as much attention as the land, calling in examples from Eastern Europe, Scotland, France, and the Southern United States. “I wanted a barrel that would complement rather than compete with the tequila,” he says.
That purity, as well as its small pore size, helps the tequila’s aroma and taste to develop with less influence from the wood. The resulting spirit—of which Casa Noble produced only 300 bottles—reveals white-flower and white-pepper notes, some minerality, and even hints of black cherry in the glass.
Casa Dragones Joven Tequila Art of Pepita
Casa Dragones, the small-batch, 100 percent blue agave tequila from San Miguel de Allende, continues to push boundaries with its gorgeous Casa Dragones Joven Tequila Art of Pepita limited-edition bottling. Every inch of this classic, hand-blown bottle is covered with ornate, hand-engraved designs of Pepita, the rare, traditional Mexican art form. Complex yet approachable, this is one of the best tequila brands, perfect for sipping and pairing with food. Fresh and inviting aromas of subtle floral citrus excite the senses, while its rich, silky body provides a sleek texture on the palate.
This is the ultimate gift for a tequila aficionado and art collector alike, with a limited production of 100 bottles.
Avión Reserva 44
This extra añejo is one of the best tequilas – a great sipper not to be limited to just Cinco de Mayo, but certainly, one to celebrate with. Beautiful roasted agave flavors and a floral vanilla are front and center on the nose and are balanced by warm citrus notes, caramelized nuts, and a hint of spice on the palate.
Reserva 44 gets its moniker from the 44 months it spends aging in oak barrels – one of those months is spent finishing the tequila in petite barrels, increasing the liquid’s contact with wood and deepening its complexity.
See also: 90 Years of Montblanc Meisterstück
Volcán De Mi Tierra
Volcán De Mi Tierra is the first premium tequila launched by Moët Hennessy, showcasing the distinctive flavors of its lowlands-grown blue agave and highland agave fields in somewhat unusual ways. To create the recipes that compose Volcán’s two tequila expressions, Anna Maria Romero Mena, the brand’s Maestra de tequila, experimented with numerous yeast strains, cask maturation, and—most significantly—various blends of blue agave plants sourced from both the lowlands and the highlands. “It was my hope to create a spirit that is truly committed to expressing the heart of the agave and terroir from which it came,” she says.
Volcán De Mi Tierra’s aged expression, Cristalino, may be classified as an añejo, but it is really a blend of añejo and extra añejo tequilas that have matured in French oak casks for 1 and 3 years, respectively. Following that maturation, the tequilas are filtered with activated charcoal, which removes the barrel-added color but preserves the flavor. From there, the añejo is finished for 15 days in ex-Cognac casks, while the extra añejo spends 15 final days in ex-whiskey barrels.
When asked why activated charcoal filtration was an important step in the process, Volcán De Mi Tierra’s CEO, Trent Fraser, explained that it is a popular trend in Mexico, and he wanted the brand to stay loyal to its native land. Beyond that, he believes the spirit’s clarity increases the tequila’s year-round appeal.
The Napa Valley winemaker Dave Phinney joined forces with the Ramirez family, tequila makers from the Mexican state of Jalisco, in order to bridge the gap between wine and tequila. The result is Ayate Añejo ($95), which has been aged for two months in American oak barrels, four months in French oak, and six additional months in Phinney’s Chardonnay casks. The tequila is cut to bottle proof (80 proof) with unfiltered water from a natural spring on the Casa Ramirez property, and hits the tongue softly and sweetly, with rounded notes of honey, butterscotch, and caramel dominating. The wine barrels make their presence felt mid-palate, as dry, oaky notes come to the fore. The Chardonnay and agave flavors complement each other, especially on the long, dry finish.
Painted with precious metals and adorned with a glass stopper, the square bottle is as distinctive and attractive as the liquid inside. A reposado ($65), aged in the same fashion but for less time, is also available.
Patrón en Lalique Serie 2
Patrón has been, perhaps more than any other brand, responsible for elevating the reputation of tequila from an inexpensive source of quick intoxication to a sipping spirit as respected as the finest whiskeys and Cognacs. Along the way, Patrón’s squat glass bottle became an iconic symbol of quality tequila. So when the brand wanted to create a special package, they had to think big. The result was a collaboration with Lalique, the premiere French design house for fine crystal. Patrón en Lalique Serie 1, released in 2015, was a stunning, handmade crystal take on the classic Patrón bottle containing a bespoke extra añejo tequila created by master distiller Francisco Alcaraz.