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The Best Blanco Tequilas


The tequila industry is booming, with recent reports showing that agave spirits are on a trajectory to become the best-selling spirits category in the US in the next two years, surpassing both whiskey and vodka.

With such exponential growth, new brands are hitting shelves each day. Almost every cocktail bar worth its salt (pun intended) has a tequila cocktail on the menu, and celebrities are bringing unprecedented attention to the category by launching their own brands.

With so many options to choose from, it’s never been a more exciting time to enjoy Mexico’s most iconic liquid treasure.

With the staggering number of options available to US drinkers, this is also one of the most potentially daunting times. To identify the best, we tasted 24 bottles of unaged (blanco) tequilas that would be good for both sipping and mixing—ones that express the full aroma and flavor the agave plant has to offer, made in line with traditions that defined the category before industrialization streamlined the processes.

We considered 58 bottles and narrowed our testing to the two-dozen that fit our criteria. Then we evaluated them neat (without ice or other accouterments) and mixed into three favorite tequila cocktails: a classic margarita; a Tommy’s margarita; and a Ranch Water (made with blanco tequila, Topo Chico, and a squeeze of lime).

The 12 finalists are tequilas that offer vibrant and varied aromas and flavors with good texture and a pleasing aftertaste. No two tasted exactly alike; some offered savory, herbaceous qualities while others burst with bright, refreshing citrus notes. All of them were well suited to sipping neat, and some also worked particularly well when mixed—we organized the tasting notes to highlight these attributes and to include recommendations on how to drink each one. Although there were clear frontrunners, there wasn’t a dud in the bunch. All of the bottles, presented in order of price, were pretty delicious in their own right, so you can use this list as a starting point for your own agave adventures.

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