How To Spot A High-Quality Tequila

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Tequila is a spirit that a lot of people equate with shots, and consequently morning hangovers. In actuality, aged tequilas can be delicious to sip on straight or on the rocks, just like you might enjoy a nice, aged whisky.

If you’re new to the spirit, at least when it comes to drinking it straight, then knowing what the “good” stuff can be challenging. I recently spoke to José “Pepe” Hermosillo, the founder of Casa Noble, for his take on what you should look for in a good tequila.

“You can eliminate a number of inorganic tequila brands by what the label says,” says Hermosillo.

“Make sure you see 100% de Agave, which means it is made of Blue Agave and not a Mixto (51/49). Now that we are only looking at pure 100% agave, look for brands that are made in smaller batches. Many larger brands are big volume and therefore normally mass made, which can affect quality.”

When you get that tequila, Hermosillo says to make sure it’s “bright and shiny” with “a good body.” Afterward, “Stick your nose in the glass and smell. It should not be overly alcoholic but more of interesting enjoyable aromas.”

Hermolsillo says there are three steps to spotting a high-quality tequila:

◦Step 1: Pour the tequila into a transparent glass

◦Step 2: Swirl the tequila in the glass, as if you’re swirling wine

◦Step 3: Stop swirling and look at the glass. If the tequila falls back down with clean streaks or legs, like wine does, it’s a quality, organic tequila. Drink up! If the tequila leaves speckles on the glass, it likely has sugar or other additives in it, which may lead to a rough morning after.”

The goal is to find a tequila that fills your palate with enjoyable aromas, not one that burns and is unpleasant to drink.

I recommend kicking things off with a Reposado or Anejo, which are going to be aged in barrels prior to their bottling. You can definitely drink some blancos (the clear stuff) straight, but you’ll have a much better sipping experience with aged tequila.


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