When stocking your liquor cabinet, one must-have is tequila. While you may want to include other choices, for tequila enthusiasts, having numerous tequilas to choose from is their idea of beverage paradise. Only rivaled by whiskey, tequila inspires either adoration or revulsion in consumers of fine spirits. Some people can only catch a whiff of tequila, and they have to lay down. Others absolutely love tequila. If you are one of the latter, you may want to provide yourself with a wide variety of tequilas. Not all of it is the same. It has different levels of smoothness, taste and complexity. The best tequila goes down as smooth as water. Study this guide on filling your liquor cabinet with tequila and you’ll always have something good to drink.
A Guide to Tequila: Bottom Shelf
Starting with the bottom end, sometimes you just want to mix tequila with orange juice, ginger ale or margarita mix. In this case, it’s not worth it to use high-end tequila. The lowest grade of tequila you should purchase is Jose Cuervo Gold or Sauza Gold. While it is certainly not the worst, it comes nowhere near the best. Shooting it can burn and sipping it is not the most flavorful experience. Regardless, having a bottle handle for mixing is nice. Besides, some people like it.
Tequilas in the middle level of smoothness and taste make great mixers, but they are passable for sipping and shooting. They typically have less of a burn when they go down and are more flavorful. Among your mid-level tequila choices are Jose Cuervo 1800, Jose Cuervo Tradicional and Sauza Hornitos. These tequilas cost between $25 and $40 or so per bottle and make a better margarita or tequila sunrise. They are not the best for sipping, but they definitely superior to the bottom end.
Top Shelf Tequilas
For the tequila enthusiast, the top shelf is where to be. While college-age drinkers might revel in taking tequila shot after tequila shot, the best way to enjoy tequila is to sip it either straight up or on the rocks. With great tequila, this is very pleasurable. The more money you pay for tequila the better it will be. Plan on spending at least $50 per bottle and up to a hundred or more for the quality. Two common brands resting on the top shelf are Don Julio and Patron. Don Julio Blanco, Reposado and Anejo are all quality, while Patron’s Silver and Gold varieties are worthwhile. Hussong’s Reposado and Anejo are pricey but very good. At the very high end are Porfido Single Cask Anejo and Patron Anejo. A step down, but still good, is Sammy Hagar’s brand Cabo Wabo.
Almost all makers of tequila have several distinct levels of quality. Jose Cuervo, Sauza, Don Julio and Patron are the 4 most well-known makers in the states. There are dozens of others. By all means, if you discover a gem of a tequila made by a little known distillery, add it to your collection in your tequila-filled liquor cabinet.