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Best Overall: Don Julio 1942 at reservebar.com
"A small-batch gem from a recognizable brand."
Best Under $30: Don Sergio Añejo Tequila at drizly.com
"Great flavor and a ridiculous value."
Best Under $50: Cazadores Tequila Añejo at reservebar.com
"Savory and smooth. Sip this one neat."
Best Extra Añejo: El Tesoro Extra Añejo at reservebar.com
"This extra-aged tequila is complex and rich, with woodsy notes on the finish."
Best for Sipping: Casa Noble Añejo Tequila at reservebar.com
"Smooth and opulent, this one will win over even the tequila haters."
Best Premium: Gran Patrón Burdeos Añejo at drizly.com
"A tequila fit for royalty."
Best for Bourbon Lovers: Espolòn Añejo at flaviar.com
"Finished in Wild Turkey bourbon barrels, this delightful tequila is also a great value."
When most people think of tequila, they probably don’t think of an aged spirit with notes of vanilla and baking spices. But, añejo tequila is, by definition, aged at least a year and up to three in oak barrels, bringing out a rounder texture and sweeter flavors. It’s not the tequila you’ll (usually) want to shoot or mix into a margarita, but it’s great as a replacement for bourbon in cocktails or for sipping straight. It’s special tequila, made to be aged. Here are our favorites, from both the popular brands and a few that are more under the radar.
Best Overall: Don Julio 1942
In 1942, Julio González, founder of Don Julio, finally secured the funds to make his dream of opening a distillery come true. That same year, he founded his first distillery “La Primavera” in the highlands of Jalisco and embarked upon his tequila-making journey. By planting his agave slightly farther apart, he found that he got a sweeter, smoother spirit. From there, Don Julio has become one of the best-known tequila brands in the world.
It’s fitting, then, that the brand’s most iconic bottle be named after the year everything started. Aged for a minimum of 2.5 years in American oak barrels, this bottle is synonymous with luxury tequila. Its notes of butterscotch, white pepper, and tropical fruit make it a delight to enjoy all evening.
Best Under $30: Don Sergio Añejo Tequila
It’s not easy to find an añejo tequila under $30. You might think, then, that if you could find anything at that price point, that it would be of poor quality. In the case of Don Sergio, you would be wrong. It’s made with 100% Blue Agave and is a delight to drink. In fact, this budget-friendly bottle won a Silver Medal at the San Francisco Spirits Competition in 2013.
With aromas of vanilla, baking spices, and white pepper, Don Sergio makes an excellent after-dinner drink and, at this price, can be mixed into your favorite whiskey cocktails without breaking the bank. Its finish isn’t quite as smooth as the ultra-premium stuff, but it beats plenty of bottles at twice the price.
Best Under $50: Cazadores Tequila Añejo
Cazadores Añejo is made with 100% Blue Agave, which is fermented twice and distilled twice before spending at least a year in new, small American white oak barrels. New oak barrels have more flavor to impart, and this highland tequila boasts layers of it—think spiced apple pie, pecans, vanilla bean, a salted chocolate almond bar. It would pair nicely with dessert, but it's also wonderful sipped neat.
Cazadores means “hunters” in Spanish, a reference to founder Don Jose Maria Bañuelos’s obsession with protecting the quality and uniqueness of his tequila. It is said he even went so far as to hide his tequila recipe in the walls of his house. Cazadores has fine-tuned its process to be both sustainable and zero-waste, meaning you can feel even better about sipping this delicious tequila.
Best Extra Añejo: El Tesoro Extra Añejo
Añejo means “old” in Spanish. Extra Añejo tequila, therefore, is older—it must have been aged for at least three years in oak barrels. El Tesoro introduced its first extra añejo tequila in 1994 before the Consejo Regulador de Tequila had even created a special classification for the style.
Made with estate-grown blue agave, this special blend honors founder Don Felipe Camarena’s passion for aged tequila. His grandson, Carlos Camarena, ages the extra añejo in former bourbon barrels for four to five years for enhanced depth and complexity. It won a double gold medal at the International Spirits Challenge in 2019.
Best for Sipping: Casa Noble Añejo Tequila
Most añejos are aged between 12 and 18 months. After distilling three times, Casa Noble ages its añejo tequila in new French white oak barrels for a full 24 months, bringing out flavors of toasted oak, butterscotch pudding, roasted agave, and dried fruits.
Its complexity, to say nothing of its smooth finish, won it the gold medal at the SIP Awards in 2017 and the World Spirits Awards in 2016. It’s made with 100% Blue Agave and certified organic. It’s neither the priciest nor least expensive tequila on this list, but if you should choose to buy it, you will almost certainly enjoy it. This is the bottle that could convert just about anyone into a tequila lover.
Best Premium: Gran Patrón Burdeos Añejo
You’ve never had Patrón like this before. Even its everyday tequilas are made with what the brand calls “small-batch spirit,” covering little details like the agave piñas being hand-chopped before roasting in small brick ovens and all the bottles, corks, and barrels being made at its distilleries.
The high-end Burdeos bottling is made in tiny batches, using only the finest highland 100% Weber Blue Agave. After being distilled twice (the second distillation following 12 months of aging in used American and new French oak barrels), it's finished in vintage Bordeaux wine barrels, imparting rich wine-like flavors and distinctive dark amber color. You’ll find notes of freshly picked desert herbs, tobacco, maple sugar, and fleur de sel caramels in this stunning bottle. This is truly a luxury tequila that lives up to the high expectations set by its high price point.
Best for Bourbon Lovers: Espolòn Añejo
Espolòn’s tequila has quickly become a favorite of beverage industry folks, thanks to its high quality and incredibly reasonable price point. Its Añejo, made from 100% Blue Weber Agave, is no exception. After being aged in new American oak barrels for ten months, it’s finished in Wild Turkey bourbon barrels for two months, taking on some of the spice and texture of your favorite bourbon.
The final product is smooth, distinctive, and just over $30. It’s a quality, sipping-worthy spirit, but at that price point, you can also play around with it in cocktails (tequila old-fashioned, anyone?) or even take it like a shot if that’s where the evening goes.
If you’re willing to spend a bit more on something iconic, go with the Don Julio 1942, or for an extra-aged beauty, El Tesoro Extra Añejo. But if you're new to añejo tequila, you can’t beat the quality-to-price ratio of Espolon’s Añejo, which will also delight fans of Wild Turkey bourbon.
Christine Clark is a professional eater and drinker who happens to be obsessed with agave spirits. She’s taught classes around the country on pairing it with cheese, and her Arizona origins also have ensured that she makes a darn good margarita. She has a podcast about cheese.