Whether you have some friends over for a much needed Friday night gathering or spend a Saturday clubbing at some of your city's hottest spots, it's almost certain that you'll go through a few shots of tequila, the mexican spirit commonly associated with margaritas, partying and having a blast. Of course, it's all fun and games in the moment, but the next morning hangover may leave you with other feelings.
Tequila, a spirit made from the native agave plant exclusively in a handful of regions in Mexico including Jalisco, Guanajuato, and Michoacán, has risen in global popularity in recent years. While there are 5 types of tequila, Americans were largely familiar with just the blanco (also know as platino / silver) until recently. A blanco is what most people imagine when tequila comes to mind — a clear, non-aged stated spirit that blends seamlessly in margaritas, or in a shot. With a clean mouthfeel and fresh notes of agave, a blanco is an ideal choice for a night out, but not great for a calm weeknight or day with the in-laws. That's precisely why luxury, sipping tequilas have been on the rise as of late, soaring 83% in sales in 2021 and growing into household names like Clase Azul, Komos, and others.
With these ultra-premium tequilas, gone are the fears of a hangover and terrible Sunday morning headaches. Instead, we welcome a scotch-like experience, true flavor exploration, and celebrating the labor of countless jimadores (workers that harvest agave). Luxury tequilas typically fall into one of the following 4 categories of tequila: a reposado (a tequila that is aged between 60 days to 1 year), an añejo (a tequila that is aged between 1 and 3 years), a cristalino (an añejo tequila that is filtered to charcoal to remove the color from the barrel-aging), or an extra añejo (a tequila that is aged for more than 3 years and often finished in a unique type of barrel). With the boom in demand for these types of tequila, there are more options for these complex, easy-sipping tequilas out there than ever.
The 8 Best Sipping Tequilas to Drink in 2022:
Sure, this Clase Azul is not an añejo or extra añejo tequila, but make no mistake, it's one of the most popular ultra-premium sipping tequilas out there, and for good reason. Clase Azul is made from 100% Blue Weber Agave, and aged for 8 months in American whiskey casks. The result is a naturally sweet drink with incredibly delicate notes of vanilla, cinnamon, and hazelnut and an exceptional, smooth finish. It is globally recognized for its hand-crafted white and blue decanter with a classic featured design. More broadly, Clase Azul serves as a symbol of Mexican tradition given the care that goes into the production of each batch of tequila, along with the each ceramic decanter that is made by hand by Mexican artisans. All in all, Clase Azul Reposado makes for an unprecedented sipping tequila — when in doubt, don't hesitate to grab this fan-favorite.
Cincoro tequila has as rich of a backstory as the liquid itself. It was co-created by 5 NBA owners, most notably including Michael Jordan of the Charolette Hornets one night. Meeting for dinner, they bonded other their common, heartfelt love for tequila. Not letting the opportunity go to waste, they quickly went knees deep into industry, seeking to create their own ultra-premium, sipping tequila line. Enter: Cincoro. A remarkably smooth, rich, and nuanced tequila, Cincoro añejo is aged for two years, creating a beautiful amber-colored spirit. On the palate, it offers notes of chocolate, maple, charred oak, and spice on the finish. As with any other sipping tequila, it is best served neat or on the rocks.
El Tesoro makes an extra añejo tequila like no other distillery out there. Traditional añejo and extra añejo tequilas are aged in American or European Oak Casks, but this special tequila spends its 5 years in French oak ex-Cognac barrels. It was dreamt up by Don Felipe Camarena, a veteran in the tequila space, along with Alain Royer who is native to a cognac brand. The result is a beautiful sipping tequila that offers aromas of butterscotch, tropical fruit, herbs, and dry spice. It finishes with hints of oak and smoke, and received a gold medal at the International Spirits Challenge in 2020.
Yes, we know what you're thinking: Isn't Jose Cuervo the brand that you use for margaritas? Not what you classify as the best sipping tequila, right!? Wrong. In recent years, Cuervo has come out with its world-class Reserva De La Familia line, which unlike its silver tequila that you mix in drinks, is made from the distillery's finest reserves and aged to perfection. The tequila is made from all-natural blue weber agave that is matured for nearly a decade in the estate's rich, volcanic soil prior to being harvested. Beyond the liquid, the bottle comes with a stunning artist collaboration box which is designed by a Mexican artist with a unique theme in mind. Offering rich notes of toasted oak, tropical fruit, and hazelnut, it is a go-to sipping tequila for those who love a cognac or bourbon.
Here we go, our first clear extra añejo tequila, or a Cristalino. After being aged within the same 3+ year timeline, this sipping tequila is then filtered through charcoal to both remove the brown tint the tequila would've picked up in the barrel-aging process and enhance the pre-existing flavors. Maestro Dobel 50, specifically, is created from single-estate agave, meaning that it only includes agave from one estate in Jalisco. It is aged from 3 years in Eastern European oak barrels and filled into a stunning, pyramid shaped that looks great on your bar. The cristalino tequila itself embodies each attribute of what a sipping tequila should be: notes of dried fruit, chocolate, and caramel on the palate, followed by a deep, rich finish with tobacco and nutmeg.
Another unique extra añejo tequila hailing from a newer brand, Código 1530 is sure to excite. First and foremost, Código 1530, the name, stands for "Los Codigos," or old world tradition and customs that shaped the Los Bajos region starting in the early 1500s. The tequila is publicly represented by George Strait, a singer and investor in the company. Rated by experts as the best sipping tequila on the market, Código 1530 is aged for up to 6 years in two unique barrels: Napa Valley Cabernet and French White Wine. Resultingly, the tequila offers a complex profile that includes caramel, toasted vanilla, cinnamon, and dried fruit. It's widely recognized as the oldest extra añejo tequila on the market, in terms of age-statement.
Our second cristlaino tequila, Avión's offering is another crystal clear, age-stated tequila that recently hit the market. It is distilled from the best agave at the Avión estate, grown at the highest elevation and derived from the finest reserves. As an añejo tequila, it is aged for 2 to 3 years before being run through a double charcoal filtration process that is said to remove its amber tint and fortify the fruity flavors in the tequila. A truly exceptional sipping tequila, Avión cristlaino offers a whole new luxury tequila experience with its crystalline color and robust flavors.
Tequila Komos is a distillery that prides itself on bringing inspiration from the Mediterranean wine-making processes to tequila. On the 4 sides of the top of its bottle, you'll find representations of the sea, salt, and sun — the god send of ingredients that make mediterranean alcohol so great. After being distilled, the Komos Rosa Reposado is aged in French oak red wine barrels for up to 2 months, where it picks up a light pink hue. It is also aerated to give the tequila a smoother and rounder touch that catalyzes it into one of the best sipping tequilas, period.