I love tequila. I’ve probably tasted over 100 different brands and varieties. And there are over 1,000 brands on the market, so I’ve got lots more to go. Tequila has a reputation as the liquor of choice for wild spring breakers everywhere, but it can be just as sophisticated as any other fine liquor on the market. Here’s a basic “introducción” to good quality tequila, for those who have not had the pleasure:
Tequila is type of mezcal, produced from the blue agave plant. It is usually harvested in the Mexican state of Jalisco, where a jimador harvests the plant and uses a coa to separate the leaves from the piña. It years to mature before harvest, so the current agave shortage will eventually ease. Agave also plays an interesting role in the history of Mexico.
There are 2 main types of tequila: 100% blue agave tequila, and tequila mixto, which is made from at least 51% blue agave, and no more than 49% other sugars and caramel colors. There are 5 age classifications of tequila. From youngest to oldest, they are: Blanco, Joven, Reposado, Añejo, and Extra Añejo.
Ok, enough background. On to the fun stuff! In honor of National Tequila Day, here’s a list of my top 4 favorite tequilas. Enjoy!
4. Jose Cuervo Tradicional Reposado
Some of you may have some unpleasant flashbacks of Jose Cuervo Tradicional Reposado’s younger, meaner cousin, Jose Cuervo Gold. Don’t let the name fool you: this tequila is very different and much better. This tequila holds a special place in my heart: it was the first good, smooth tequila I ever drank. A friend brought it on a fishing trip, and I’ve been a tequila aficionado ever since.
3. Hornitos Plata
Hornitos Plata is my preferred tequila for making margaritas. Margaritas need good tequila, but you don’t want to spend too much money on it, since the tequila isn’t really the main show. This Hornitos tequila has enough flavor to get through the sweetness of the margarita, but without being overpowering. And the price point is very reasonable!
2. Hornitos Black Barrel
Now comes the really good stuff. Hornitos Black Barrel is delicious. It starts as an Añejo, which is the second longest aged tequila, which is then aged some more in charred oak barrels previously used to make whiskey. The flavor from the barrels complements the tequila, and gives it a wonderfully complex taste. This is a must-try for whiskey lovers and haters alike!
1. Hussong’s Reposado