It’s summer, and that means, inevitably, that it’s time to drink tequila. Sure, it’s fun to think iconoclastically and declare that the calendar cannot dictate what one wants to drink. But the lure of the blue agave is hard to resist and come to the advent of warm weather, we find ourselves happily downing margaritas, Palomas, and tequila Old Fashioneds along with the rest of the civilized world.
As tequila continues to lift itself out of the dimly lit corner American drinkers spilled it in, discerning drinkers among us will notice an increased emphasis on smaller, family-owned, “craft” tequila brands. Tequila is a beautiful, refined, sophisticated spirit when you’re drinking the right bottles.
Here is the top 10 tequila you should be drinking this summer
El Tesoro 80th Anniversary
It’s incredible to us that you can still find bottles of this limited edition El Tesoro tequila released at the end of last year. Usually, 8-year-old tequila would normally mean an over-oaked, unpleasant experience with most brands. But El Tesoro uses its barrels two or three times, meaning that the balance between wood and agave remains much longer in the aging process. We got hints of peppercorn and smoke from this connoisseur’s tequila, and a touch of black olive. Sip neat, maybe with a few drops of water.
Jose Cuervo Reserva de Familia
Jose Cuervo’s Reserva de Familia is a must-try tequila. It’s a delicious, extra-aged tequila that sips more like cognac. Aged for a minimum of three years in American and French oak, it tastes deep and earthy with tons of vanilla and Brulee notes over subtle, candied yam notes of cooked agave. Sip neat or over ice.
Don Julio 1942
The most luxurious of the bunch, Don Julio 1942 sports a steep price tag, making it a great option for special occasions. It’s aged for a minimum of two-and-a-half years in American white-oak barrels and is the best choice for the tequila connoisseurs in your life. Oh yeah, and the Kardashians love it.
LALO tequila is named after Eduardo “Lalo” González, who was given the nickname by his grandfather, Don Julio González. Yup, that Don Julio. This pure, Blanco tequila is made by Eduardo and his friend Davíd and has notes of cooked agave, sweet potato, cinnamon, and a hint of dulce de leche.
Milagro Select Barrel Reserve Reposado
It’s required that añejo tequila be aged for just one year, but Avión makes sure its añejo stays in the barrels for two years. Doubling that age requirement is what gives this tequila and amber color and aromas of burnt agaves, peaches, and persimmons.
A super-premium tequila brand from the Corralejo portfolio, Los Arango is slowly distilled with a specially selected yeast to give it one of the more uniquely peppery and bright characters. There are some great Blancos on the market, but this newest one is just the right sweet spot of clean yet flavorful to give you a new outlook on clear tequila, especially if you’ve had doubts about it in the past. Obviously we like this one in cocktails, but consider it for something like a Bloody Maria, or a spicy Negroni, if you’re feeling adventurous.
Casa Noble Joven
An oddball for a lot of reasons, Casa Noble Joven is our favorite mixing tequila on the market right now. Joven is bottled at 102 proof, pretty close to the industry standard preference for mixology. It’s aged a brisk six weeks in oak before heading to the bottling line, giving it just enough contact with oak to take the edges off and add the tiniest hint of vanilla to those bright, fresh agave notes. It’s awesome in a margarita or with tonic and lime, and for those of us who get playful on holidays or long weekends, it lends itself to experimentation all summer long.
Patrón Extra Añejo
Older Patrón releases tend to be master demonstrations of how to use wood in tequila. It’s just in their DNA to take a light, fresh, and bright clear tequila and see what they can get out of the oak with it. But while some of that premium (and really expensive) bottles can almost lose sight of the agave, Extra Añejo is a really nice sweet spot and our favorite point on the spectrum between agave and oak. It’s nutty, with tons of vanilla and hints of chocolate and marzipan, all while maintaining that candied apricot and yam character that you get from a perfectly aged tequila.
Villa One Silver Tequila
Another celebrity tequila brand, Villa One is made with the help of Nick Jonas. It sources agave from the highland and lowland regions of Jalisco, Mexico. With agave from both regions, Villa One combines the herbaceous, earthy lowland notes and the sweeter, fruity notes of highland agave.
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