Sampling lots and lots of tequila every year is a hard job, but someone has to do it. That’s why I have nominated myself. After numerous tasting sessions, these are our top 10 tequilas in 2018.
This list has been compiled for 2018, it includes some classics, some new ones and some usual ones.
All very good tequilas for their own reasons.
There are some Blancos, Reposados, Anejos and Extra Anejos (read about different types of tequila). Some not even from Mexico (sort of)! I hope to have explained these and provided some guidance if you are looking for good tequila.
In case you wanted to know about my palette, I eat a lot of spicy food, like sweet things, and have been drinking tequila for many years. While friends were drinking beers and gin and tonics, I was drinking tequila and orange juice. I don’t like mustard, strong ginger or nutmeg. I also appreciate value for money, something expensive doesn’t means it’s good. I appreciate provenance and fun. Tequila should always be fun. Hopefully this adds context to my choices.
I should say that this is only the top of what we have tried and what is available to export to the UK. We know there are many more tequilas in the US and Mexico that are not exported and while we do intend to drink all of them at some point in our life, we haven’t yet, so for fairness, this is for the non-mexican market.
TOP 10 TEQUILAS FOR 2018
1. Don Julio 1942 – Extra Anejo
The Perfectly Balanced One
In the Don Julio 1942 there is a great balance of strong cooked agave, vanilla, caramel, butterscotch and chocolate. It is an expensive tequila in a nice bottle and is premium, great for money and pleasurable to drink.
If you have never tried premium tequila, you will not recognise this. It’s something a little different to the usual.
2. Clase Azul – Reposado
The Rich One
Although Clase Azul produce perfectly reasonable Anejo and an Ultra Anejo, you get great value for money and easy drinking of the reposado, so we give it top marks.
Similar to the Don Julio 1942, it has strong vanilla and caramel with some honey and more woody notes, making it a rich tasting tequila. It also has a beautiful bottle which will look great on your cocktail bar/cabinet/trolley.
3. Gran Patron Smoky – Blanco
The Smoky One
I’ve been waiting for this tequila for many years. In some ways the Gran Patron Smoky could be classed as a mezcal as it’s roasted in an earthen pit. But as it uses Blue Agave like the rest of the Patron range, it is classed a tequila. It is delicately smoky on a sharp raw agave blanco.
Usually a blanco tequila is unaged, has sharp tendancies so it is unusual, and surprising to have the smoke flavour come through.
Bring on the agave experiments!
4. Fortaleza – Anejo
The Prodigal Son
When Sauza, the house of the Father of Tequila, Don Cenobio Sauza, was sold to Beam Suntory, a piece of tequila history was changed forever. That was until his great-great-great grandson Guillermo, decided to breathe new fire into the old distillery and create Fortaleza.
This tequila is strong on agave, sweet and oaky with a long finish.
Plus, the label looks pretty cool.
5. UWA – Anejo
The Scottish One
Yes you read that right, Scottish. As in 5,000 miles from Mexico. Perhaps my British bias is at play but whether it is or not, this is a good tequila with some added novelty.
Some oak is imparted from the Speyside barrels, it is peppery and strong, alcoholic and not short on character. Whiskey enthusiasts will enjoy this, alcohol enthusiasts will enjoy this, tequila enthusiasts will enjoy this. Scottish tequila!
This is a gimmick that’s worked out pretty well.
6. Tapatio Excelencia Gran Reserva – Extra Anejo
The Single Estate Hero
Many tequilas are made from agave grown by farmers who sell their plants to different distilleries. Therefore, it is something special when a distillery owns its own land, agave and distillery. This means the product is protected by the same ethos from soil to lips.
This Extra Anejo from Tapatio Excelencia Gran Reserva is spicy, oaky and has an extra long finish that makes it one to remember.
7. Jose Cuervo Reserva de la Familia
The Redeeming One
Jose Cuervo is both loved and reviled in the tequila world. We wouldn’t have tequila without them but then tequila wouldn’t have such a bad reputation either.
The Reserva de la Familia is 100% Agave unlike the mixto Especial we all know.
It is oaky, strong, a little fruity and with some smoke. The bottle is charming and if you forget about the past, this is top quality tequila. I expect the 250th Anniversary Edition from Jose Cuervo is better, but I haven’t tried it, yet.
8. Casa Noble – Anejo
The Chocolatey One
Yes, chocolate and tequila. Casa Noble has a reputation for having a chocolate aroma and flavour and in my opinion the Anejo is the best.
Sweet, smoky and agave strong, a classic bottle and as smooth as its ex-co-owner, Carlos Santana. We enjoyed the Casa Noble Anejo very much.
9. KAH – Extra Anejo
The skully one
First the skulls draw you in, then the tequila keeps you coming back. KAH Extra Anejo is undoubtedly peppery as is most of the Kah range. There are hints of cigar smoke, wood and spice that makes this stand out a bit from my other picks as they are all sweeter and smoother but the KAH Extra Anejo is a kick to the senses, in a good way.
10. Casamigos – Anejo
The Handsome One
It was almost inevitable that a Casamigos tequila would be on this list. George Clooney and Randy Gerber’s foray into tequila had my scepticism on overdrive. It took a long time to even try it, but when I did I was surprised.
It is not the best tequila but it is good. Just good enough to be on this list. This is partly due to the headline exposure that Casamigos has done for tequila. Its $1 billion buyout by Diageo turned more than a few heads and is a great story for tequila. The Casamingos Anejo flavour is alcoholic, peppery with some sweetness.
Hope that top 10 tequilas for 2018 gives you a good starting point to go on for the remainder of this year. And check back in a few months for our 2019 list!