If your only association with tequila is sloppy shots or frozen margaritas, then you're missing out on the true nature of this special spirit. While there is nothing wrong with a nice frosty margarita or even shots, on occasion—drink however you like—many tequilas are best sipped neat or savored over a large cube of ice.
Finding the perfect tequila to enjoy on its own may not be so simple, however. There are now a surprising amount of quality sipping tequilas that are blanco, reposado, añejo or extra añejo. With so many brands to choose from, it can be an expensive task to sample which ones may be right for you. It may just depend on what you're looking for. To help you on your way in the selection, here are some expert recommendations for great tequilas to sip on any occasion—no salt, lime, or shaker required.
El Tesoro Paradiso Extra Añejo Tequila
“I love El Tesoro Paradiso Extra Añejo Tequila,” says Cindy Augustine, a freelance editor and journalist based in New York City. “It’s not cheap—but it’s worth every penny—and is best on its own.”
This rich, golden tequila is aged for five years in former cognac barrels and is the product of a collaboration between El Tesoro Master Distiller Carlos Camarena and A. de Fussigny Cognac. This herbaceous extra añejo is rife with butterscotch notes, layered with subtle smoke and tropical fruits. According to Augustine, this is a true post-meal treat. “[It’s] better than dessert,” she shares.
Price at time of publish: $155
Bottle Size: 750 milliliters | Tasting Notes: Butterscotch, herbs, oak | ABV: 40% | Region: Jalisco, Mexico
Best New Release
AsomBroso Eros Reposado Tequila
"I highly recommend splurging on Eros Reposado Tequila from AsomBroso," says Victoria Heydt, Editorial Project Manager at The Spruce Eats.
AsomBroso Tequila launched this special release on Valentine's Day, 2023, and named it after "Eros," the Greek god of love. This expression is aged for 9 months with barrel staves that are coated with caramelized cooked agave from their 11-Year vintage barrels. While resting, the barrels are gently rolled to impart flavor from the French oak, resulting in this ultra-premium reposado tequila.
"It was really good! You get the notes from the French oak barrels, sweetness from the agave that is charred within the barrels, and a smooth finish due to it being distilled thrice. It's pricey, but if you enjoy a good sipping tequila or want the finest things in life, I would give this a shot. So. Good."
Price at time of publish: $140
Bottle Size: 750 milliliters | Tasting Notes: Roasted agave, exotic spices, vanilla | ABV: 40% | Region: Jalisco, Mexico
Best Tequila-Style Agave Spirit
Caballito Cerrero Azul Blanco Agave Spirit
Las Vegas bartender Alexandra Farrington, an expert when it comes to artisanal tequila production, recommends sipping on this blanco expression by Caballito Cerrero, a cult favorite among agave enthusiasts. “This liquid is a time machine in a bottle—it has a richness uncommon for unaged spirit, [with] vegetal notes, mineralogy, and just a slight sweetness,” she says.
Legally speaking, this isn’t a tequila—Farrington notes that the producers dropped the designation in 2018 in favor of tradition instead of changing the recipe or process to follow government regulations—but technicalities aside, this is a very special 100 percent Blue Weber distillate (the only agave type that can be used to make tequila) that is thoughtfully made using sound farming practices.
On the nose, expect earthy tones, citrus blossom, and baking spice, and on the palate, black pepper, cooked agave, and smoke leading into a long, complex finish.
Price at time of publish: $70
Bottle Size: 750 milliliters | Tasting Notes: White pepper, anise, melon | ABV: 46% | Region: Jalisco, Mexico
Aldez Organic Tequila Reposado
"Aldez became my favorite sipping tequila because of its stunning flavors, unique personality, and high quality,” says Camila Fernandez, bar manager at Osamil Upstairs in New York City. This small-batch, certified organic tequila sits in ex-bourbon casks for eight months, and Fernandez loves it for its vanilla, cooked agave, and salted caramel aromas.
On the palate, notes of caramel and vanilla lead into a “long, warm, sweet finish that makes it enjoyable to drink on its own,” she says. In addition to being organic, Aldez uses recycled materials for its bottles and labels, and Fernandez points out the importance of supporting smaller brands, especially ones providing jobs to Mexican families.
Price at time of publish: $58
Bottle Size: 750 milliliters | Tasting Notes: Vanilla, salted caramel | ABV: 40% | Region: Jalisco, Mexico
Avión Reserva Cristalino
Avión produces quality tequila made from hand-selected agaves that are grown at the highest elevations in Jalisco, Mexico. Aged for up to a year and a half, their newest añejo expression is a unique and crystal clear blend made even finer with a subtle addition of extra añejo. This tequila blend has been double-charcoal filtered to create a refined smooth flavor that you can taste the difference in.
Cristalino is well worth the price tag—treat yourself to an elevated spirit. On the nose, you'll get oak and warm spices, which contrast nicely with the brightness of fresh herbs and hints of minerality. This is a luxurious experience of tequila that is best enjoyed neat or on the rocks in order to showcase the entirety of the complex and silky flavors.
Price at time of publish: $149
Bottle Size: 750 milliliters | Tasting Notes: Oak, vanilla, caramel | ABV: 40% | Region: Jalisco, Mexico
“From the roasted green chile on the nose to the palate of black pepper and ripe fruit, this masterpiece from Carlos Camarena is endlessly engaging,” says Ben Rojo, partner at Black Emperor in New York City. “Untouched by wood, the verdant soul of the agave is on full display—at 55 percent ABV, the high proof of the 110 lends to the tequila's incredible texture, and its decadent oil content really cements its place as something to be savored. [It’s] my absolute favorite pick from the genius who's brought us such genre-expanding bangers as El Tesoro and ELVELO.”
Camarena, Rojo adds, has been a pioneer of the tequila industry’s sustainability efforts and is counted as one of the first major producers to “consistently allow a portion of his agave crop to come to flowering maturity, a loss on the business end that helped the pollinating Lesser long-nosed bat recover from the brink of extinction.”
Price at time of publish: $43
Bottle Size: 750 milliliters | Tasting Notes: Lemon, agave sugar, black pepper | ABV: 40% | Region: Jalisco, Mexico
Siembra Valles Reposado Tequila
Javier Gomez, head bartender at New York’s ATLA, is a proponent of agave spirits that are not only palate-pleasing but also represent meaning and purpose. For him, few tequilas fit the bill more than Siembra Valles Reposado. “Siembra Valles represents agave expressions of the terroir within the valley: mineral, pepper, citrus, and earth,” he shares.
This spirit is aged in Missouri white oak for three months, to which Gomez attributes a delicate complexity that doesn’t compromise the agave’s flavors. “We find a beautiful harmony between roasted agave and oak on the nose and the palate; on the nose, [there’s] roasted agave, white pepper, grapefruit peel, and finally toasted almond with an elegant texture and notes of honey.”
Siembra Spirits is both kosher-certified and dedicated to sustainable and ethical practices, Gomez adds, and the company’s president, David Suro, is also directly involved with two industry non-profits: the Tequila Interchange Project, where he serves as president, and the Siembra Suro Foundation, which he founded.
Price at time of publish: $54
Bottle Size: 750 milliliters | Tasting Notes: Caramel, agave, honey | ABV: 40% | Region: Jalisco, Mexico
Tres Agaves Organic Añejo Tequila
If you’re looking for a solid añejo for the price of a reposado or blanco (and an organic one at that), Tres Agaves is your best bet. It’s the product of a fully organic operation and is double-distilled and aged for approximately 18 months in ex-bourbon and Tennessee whiskey barrels. The Tres Agaves Añejo expression is one of vegetal and cooked agave notes with plenty of baking spice and caramel, a palate that is shockingly complex and balanced given the price point.
Price at time of publish: $35 for 750ml bottle
Bottle Size: 750 milliliters | Tasting Notes: Citrus, vanilla, pepper | ABV: 40% | Region: Jalisco, Mexico
Tequila Partida Reposado
"Many purists contend that blanco is the purest expression of the agave plant, but this reposado would give them a run for their money, just with slightly darker and deeper flavors than what a blanco might offer,” says Erik Delanoy, a longtime New York City bartender. How does Tequila Partida achieve this? The award-winning highland spirit, which took home a 97-point score and a Chairman’s Trophy Award from the 2019 Ultimate Spirits Challenge, is aged for four additional months more than the minimum requirement for the reposado category, which is two months.
Delanoy also notes that the cooking, fermentation, and distillation all occur in stainless steel in an effort to preserve the flavor of the agave. According to Delanoy, this lends a leading note of freshly-roasted agave supported by vanilla, stone fruit, and butter notes, with the agave still shining through strongly. Atop these notes, this reposado offers citrus peel and nuttiness on the nose, the palate following suit with the addition of a hint of smoke.
Price at time of publish: $47
Bottle Size: 750 milliliters | Tasting Notes: Vanilla, hazelnut, pear | ABV: 40% | Region: Jalisco, Mexico
Chamucos Reposado Tequila
Beth Martini of Entente in Chicago has a long, steady relationship with Tequila Chamucos Reposado. “I started drinking it in my early 20s as my shift drink with a pint of Negro Modelo—I was attracted to the pebble-textured bottle and the illustration on the box and label. I later found out that the bottle is handmade from recycled glass,” she tells The Spruce Eats. “I loved the tobacco characteristic and the spice. I didn’t know the vocabulary about spirits then that I know now, but it has some similar characteristics of an unpeated Scotch or an aged Agricole, herbaceous and petrol, smoothed out by the wood aging,” she adds.
Not only is the Chamucos bottle appealing to the eye, but a foreshadowing of the care that’s gone into what’s inside it. The brand has been practicing organic farming for 18 years and is the only certified non-GMO Tequila on the market, among many other efforts, so this is a bottle you can feel especially great about buying.
Price at time of publish: $52 for 750ml bottle
Bottle Size: 750 milliliters | Tasting Notes: Cinnamon, pear, vanilla | ABV: 40% | Region: Jalisco, Mexico
Gran Patrón Burdeos Añejo
At Chablé Yucatán, Food and Beverage Director Ivan Tejeda is the gatekeeper of one of the world’s largest tequila collections, so it’s safe to say he knows a thing or two about sipping it. When it comes to carefully aged tequilas, Tejeda recommends following Augustine’s lead and sitting down with a nice pour following a meal. “For after dinner, I highly recommend an extra añejo tequila as a good digestif to complete the experience,” he says.
Gran Patrón (Patrón’s ultra-premium range) is responsible for one of the most special limited releases within the category—Burdeos is a rare and rich extra añejo that is aged in American and French oak before being re-distilled and finished in Bordeaux casks, resulting in a deep amber déluge of velvety vanilla, dried fruit, honeyed wine, and black pepper notes. It’s a dessert unlikely to be forgotten.
Price at time of publish: $500
Bottle Size: 750 milliliters | Tasting Notes: Oak, raisins, black pepper | ABV: 40% | Region: Jalisco, Mexico
For a sipping tequila that is rich with caramel notes, has a hint of smoke, and makes for a perfect after-dinner treat, try El Tesoro Paradiso Extra Añejo Tequila. Caballito Cerrero Azul Blanco may not technically be a tequila, it delivers in the sipping and savoring department.
What to Look for When Buying a Sipping Tequila
A tequila that you sip should have a smooth, slightly sweet taste. Depending on the manufacturer, the flavor notes will be different. You might taste notes of citrus or tropical fruits, spices, vanilla, caramel, pepper, or toasted almond, and the refreshing taste of agave will shine through. Your taste buds will lead the way to the right sipping tequila for you.
Read the label to find out what ingredients are in the bottle of tequila. For a sipping tequila, you want one that pleases your palate and makes your taste buds sing. Organic and kosher are also available.
How much do you want to spend? What fits within your budget? Different types and brands of tequila can range greatly in price. Only you know what your spending limit is. If it's a special occasion and you want to splurge on a higher-end sipping tequila, that's completely your call.
What is the best way to sip tequila?
Let the tequila flow into a fluted tasting glass, or if you don't have one, use an old-fashioned glass and take small sips. Savor the tequila, take a whiff of it to smell the aromas, and kick back and enjoy.
Do you put ice in tequila?
When sipping tequila, you should drink it at room temperature. Some people appreciate it better chilled; if so, there's no harm in that—it all comes down to preference.
How long does tequila last once opened?
Once the seal of the bottle is cracked open, you should enjoy tequila within one year.
Why Trust The Spruce Eats?
Céline Bossart has spent the past seven years reporting on the spirits business, and much of that has involved agave spirits and the category’s experts in one way or another. If she’s not sipping on a Tommy’s margarita, you can catch her tasting an aged tequila or mezcal either neat or on the rocks.
United States Department of Agriculture. Guidelines for labeling distilled spirits with organic references.
United States Department of Agriculture. Can GMOs be used in organic products?