Tequila is a category that’s been exploding in the United States over the last handful of years. Some love to blend cocktails, some like to do shots with it.
While I’m OK with either of those concepts I lean toward sipping my spirits neat. With that in mind it should come as no surprise that my preferred type of tequila is añejo. Certainly reposados and a small number of blancos are also enjoyable neat. But for me personally it’s all about añejos, and I think at least in part that stems from the fact that I’m single malt scotch fan.
For those who aren’t familiar with the process they all start out as blancos; from there it’s all tied to aging. Añejos spend a minimum of one year and a maximum of three years in barrel. Anything over three years is an extra añejo. Over the last few months, I tasted more than 65 different tequilas. Within that were some single barrel expressions and some extra añejos. If you want to put together an absolutely killer añejo bar at home here are 20 you should grab.
Pueblo Viejo Añejo, $28
The fruity nose shows off bits of spice and a touch of heat. Lemon zest and other citrus elements are in play on the palate. Lingering spices are present on the above average finish. This is a remarkably refined añejo for the money.
El Jimador Añejo, $29
The golden hue is impressive the moment you pour this tequila. The nose is loaded with fruit and wisps of fresh cut grass. From the first sip the pure essence of agave spills out along with a ton of spices and bits of sweet tea. White pepper and a hint of citrus are all in play on the lingering finish.
El Mayor Añejo, $35
This añejo has a beautiful dark, coppery hue. The nose is big and deep with toasted pecan aromas playing a prominent role. A multitude of flavors are exposed on the palate which comes at your senses in waves; mesquite and maple syrup elements are conspicuous. The long finish is gentle but loaded with diverse flavor elements.
Corralejo Añejo, $41
Orange zest and a hint of thyme are present on the lovely nose. The palate is riddled with spices, yellow stone fruits, and bits of toffee. A bit of heat emerges on the finish along with dried white fig, macadamia nut and continuing spice notes. I sipped this alongside a 12-month-aged manchego; it was a fabulous pairing.
Corazon Añejo, $42
A touch of toast, orange peel, and fresh wheat aromas are all present on the nose. All of those characteristics present on the palate along with hints of cocoa and date. The finish shows off bits of creaminess, caramel, and vanilla bean. A nice secondary bit of dusty cocoa provides a great coda.
Azunia Añejo, $44
Pale straw in color this añejo has a bold nose loaded with fresh aromas. A bit of candied yellow apple stands as a counterpoint. The palate here is on the lighter bodied side with fresh citrus and herb flavors in evidence. Mesquite honey, white pepper, and a touch of habanero are all part of the terrific finish. This is a silky smooth example of tequila.
Avion Añejo, $50
Lemon ice and a hint of smoke emerge on the nose here along with other fruit elements. The palate is clean, crisp, and smooth with a ton of fruit, vanilla, and hints of marzipan. There’s a candied edge on the finish along with a host of spice notes. Drink this for a few reasons: It’s ultra-smooth without a harsh note, and because who doesn’t want to be like Turtle from Entourage.
Siete Leguas Añejo, $50
Bright citrus aromas punctuated by fresh cut agave fill the nose. The intricate palate is stuffed with sweet fruit flavors, spice, and a touch of leather. Lemon zest, honey, and white pepper are all evident on the finish. The spices in particular reverberate for a long time. This charming and mellifluous añejo is a tremendous value in its price category.
Casamigos Añejo, $55
The vibrant nose is fruity and fresh with hints of cut grass. Peach and white pepper characteristics are prominent on the palate. Chamomile tea, maple syrup, and lots spice elements emerge on the finish which has excellent length. After about 10 minutes in the glass this really opened up and expressed all of its charms. George Clooney is involved with this brand, and it also happens to be a really good, very serious expression of Añejo.
Don Julio Añejo, $55
Bits of sage, lemon, and orange peel are all evident on the nose. The palate which shows off candied citrus, continued bits of herb, and a little touch of linseed oil has terrific depth. A subtle bit of heat emerges on the finish along with peppercorn and marzipan. It pairs remarkably well with bitter dark chocolate. This is a lovely sipper that stands towards the top of the list of añejos that are super-widely available.
Dulce Vida Añejo, $55
Mission fig and roasted hazelnut aromas emerge on the nose. The full favored and intense palate shows off dates, figs, pecan, and a light sherry note. The smooth, honeyed finish has rum raisin elements, a touch of sweet dark chocolate, and bits of appealing heat.
Partida Añejo, $55
The rich, golden hue shimmers in the glass the moment you pour this beauty. The nose here is big, booming, and wonderfully fragrant with loads of citrus and hints of herb characters. The palate is complex and layered with oodles of flavor. An inherent sweetness and loads of yellow and orange dried fruits are present. The finish is smooth, and honeyed with a creamy edge. White pepper offers a final, reverberating note. This terrific sipper goes down easily, but leaves much to contemplate.
Karma Añejo, $57
The deep, rich golden hue reminds me of a chardonnay with some age on it. Toast and vanilla aromas lead and bits of fruit emerge as well. Nectarine and apricot flavors are prominent on the palate alongside hints of honey and molasses. The long, persistent, spicy finish shows off black pepper, cloves and hints of brown sugar. This is a beautiful añejo presented in a striking package.
Patron Añejo, $57
The pale straw hue glistens in the glass. Fresh yellow fruits burst from the nose. The terrifically smooth palate showcases hints of fresh cut wheat, dried pear, and nectarine, as well as copious spices. White pepper, lemon zest, and a hint of jalapeno pepper emerge on the clean, crisp finish. From the first whiff to the last sip there’s an exceptional level of refinement here.
Suerte Añejo, $57
The nose here is extremely fresh, smelling of just cooked agave, citrus, white pepper, and a hint of vanilla bean. The palate is gentle, but layered with wave after wave of flavor connected by an intense purity. Dried apricot, yellow peach, and bits of chamomile tea are all in play along with reverberating spices on the lengthy finish.
Calavera Añejo, $60
Hints of smoke, apricot, and nutmeg are all in evidence on the terrific and super welcoming nose. Loads of fresh apple and peach flavors dominate the deep and somewhat intense palate. Honey, dried nectarine, and white fig elements are all in play on the impressively long, fairly spicy finish. This is a really nice tequila and as a bonus the skull bottle is very cool looking, too.
Milagro Select Barrel Reserve Añejo, $98
The amber hue is simply beautiful in the glass. Aromas of hazelnut and tres leches fill the remarkably inviting nose. Caramel, bits of bay leaf, dusty baker’s chocolate, and a cornucopia of dried fruit flavors fill the generous and complex palate. The prodigiously long finish has bits of honey, toast and vanilla bean. This is an exceptional añejo that should be on any tequila lover’s short list.
Casa Noble Single Barrel Añejo, $99
As with all of Casa Noble’s tequila offerings the single barrel añejo is triple-distilled. Candied orange peel and toasted Macadamia nut aromas explode from the wonderful nose. Tangerine peel, a host of toasted nut, and dried fruits are each in evidence throughout the pure, deep, and simply intense palate. The smooth, creamy, impossibly long finish displays bits of caramel and continued wisps of dried fruit. The expression that kept coming to mind when I tasted this is “top shelf” and that’s precisely what this is a Top Shelf añejo. No surprise here, everything Casa Noble does is first class.
Siete Leguas D’antono Extra Añejo, $250
The color brings to mind fresh squeezed apple juice. Apricot, nectarine, and wheat aromas light up the bold nose. Toasty oak notes appear on the palate along with dried fruits such as date and peach. Bits of leather, spice, and more chip in as well. The lengthy finish is mellifluous and complex with many of the fruit and spice characteristics still echoing. More than anything else this brought to mind a vintage Armagnac in weight, complexity and refinement.
Clase Azul Añejo, $450
The gorgeous color brings to mind rosé wine. From the first aroma to the least sip of this añejo there is a remarkable level of sophistication. It reminded me in many ways of a very fine Cognac in its layered, gentle complexity and astonishing finish which just goes on longer than you can even believe as you’re experiencing it. The presentation is also remarkable in a clay decanter molded and painted by natives in founder Arturo Lomeli’s hometown. Bits of vanilla and brown sugar appear on the nose. Dried mission gig, dates, and wisps of molasses are in evidence on the palate. The finish is dotted with a host of spices and caramel. The attention to detail in everything from the production and aging all the way to the packaging makes this a remarkable añejo.
There were some other tequilas I tasted on this journey that for one reason or another didn’t fit above. They’re really good ones that you should read about and taste if you can. Head over to Gabe’s View for some bonus tequila coverage.