Top 10 award-winning Tequilas and mezcals
Major investments from celebrities and drinks giants have pushed agave spirits into the spotlight – but which Tequilas and mezcals pass the taste test?
Tequila’s star has continued to rise over the past few years, boosted by its mixability and its growing reputation as a slow-sipping spirit – not to mention the marketing appeal of a famous face.
With so many brands tapping into the thirst for agave spirits, particularly in the premium-and-above price range, we set out to determine which bottlings are actually worth the money in our 2022 Tequila & Mezcal Masters.
Hosted last month at the Novotel Hotel in London Bridge, our blind tasting was judged by a group of experts: Nicola Carruthers, deputy editor of The Spirits Business magazine; Michael Fichtner, head bartender at the Coburg Bar at The Connaught hotel in London; Bryan Rodriguez, wine and spirits buyer at Harvey Nichols; Bernadette Pamplin, freelance spirits writer and founder of the Under the Ginfluence blog; Dimple Athavia, founder of All Things Drinks; David T Smith, spirits writer, consultant and co‐founder of the Craft Distilling Expo; Matt Chambers, co‐founder of the Whisky for Everyone blog and the North London Whisky Club; Evan Prousaefs, bar manager and assistant general manager of Los Mochis restaurant in London’s Notting Hill; Chris Tanner, bar manager at Milroy’s; and Melita Kiely, editor of The Spirits Business.
Read on to discover 10 of the top-performing spirits in the competition.
Sierra Milenario Tequila Extra Añejo
Price: £79.99 (US$108)
Looking for a slow-sipping top-shelf Tequila? Look no further than Sierra Milenario Extra Añejo, which took home the highest accolade in our blind-tasting competition – the Taste Master award.
Aged in French oak for up to four years, this bottling delivers a masterfully “complex” drinking experience, according to our panel. “Resinous, rich and bold nose with some dates and dried fruits,” one judge noted. “Spiciness has mellowed wonderfully, leaving toffee and subtle wood influence. Well‐rounded, balanced and delicious.”
Teremana Tequila Blanco
Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson’s Teremana Tequila has gained more than a few loyal fans since it launched in March 2020 – last year, the brand sold more than 600,000 nine-litre cases.
In our tasting, Teremana Blanco secured a Master award, standing out from a sea of unaged Tequilas thanks to its “spicy, vegetal nose” with “white pepper” and “a touch of chilli spice on the palate”. One judge noted: “This shows a good, light blanco. A well‐made and approachable Tequila.”
To learn more about Johnson’s plans for Teremana, read our interview with the actor.
El Mayor Tequila Añejo
Price: £49 (US$66)
Luxco’s El Mayor brand snapped up a Master medal among the Añejo bottlings in our competition thanks to its “bright agave on the nose, salted caramel notes” and “great balance of spirit and wood”.
The Tequila is produced in partnership with the González family at Destiladora González Lux, which sits just outside of Arandas, Jalisco, Mexico. Last autumn, the brand debuted a limited edition Sherry-aged Extra Añejo expression.
Noble Coyote – Coyote de Amatlán
Mezcal brand Noble Coyote was a firm favourite in the competition with its Coyote de Amatlán expression, made from the agave Coyote. Our judges described it as “quite salty on the nose, with sea aromas”, and found that it boasted “lots of character and funky notes” on the palate.
Based in San Luis Amatlán, Oaxaca, Mexico, Noble Coyote produces three mezcals in addition to Coyote de Amatlán, each highlighting a different agave variety. The spirits are produced by maestro mezcaleros using artisanal methods.
El Tequileño The Sassenach Select Double Wood Reposado
Price: £75 (US$102)
Launched in December last year, El Tequileño The Sassenach Select Double Wood Reposado is a collaboration between Sassenach Spirits – the blended Scotch whisky brand founded by Outlander actor Sam Heughan – and Tequila maker El Tequileño. To craft the expression, El Tequileño master distiller Antonio Salles took a Tequila that spent two years maturing in American oak and finished it in French oak barrels.
The resulting liquid earned top marks from our judges, who enjoyed its “clean and fresh palate with increasing savoury notes”, plus “honey, vanilla, pepper and bitter herbals”.
Avión Reserva 44
In what may have been the flashiest Tequila flight of our blind tasting, Ultra-Premium Extra Añejo, Avión Reserva 44 left a lasting impression. It garnered a Master award thanks to its “nutty” aroma and “moreish” palate, featuring flavours of “chocolate, toffee and citrus peel”. The expression is aged for a minimum of 36 months in American Bourbon barrels.
Ojo de Dios ODD Café Mezcal
Price: £39 (US$53)
Coffee and agave spirits are a much-loved pairing – just ask fans of Bacardi’s now-discontinued XO Cafe bottling. Ojo de Dios has created an excellent marriage of the two flavours in the form of its ODD Café Mezcal.
The Mexican coffee-infused mezcal claimed a Gold medal in our blind tasting with its “rich, chocolatey” palate, full of “comforting coffee notes and balanced sweetness”. If you’re looking to supercharge your next Espresso Martini, this is the bottle you need on your bar cart.
Lobos 1707 Extra Añejo Tequila
Lobos 1707 has made headlines with endorsements from the likes of basketball legend Lebron James and Terminator actor and former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger – and its Extra Añejo expression also received praise from the judges in our competition, who dubbed it “elegant” with a “nice balance of flavours”.
The liquid matures for three years in American white oak before being finished in Pedro Ximénez barrels using the solera method.
Ojo de Dios Mezcal
Price: £44.99 (US$61)
Our panel hailed Ojo de Dios’ flagship expression for showcasing “a different approach to mezcal”. In addition to its “wonderful” nose, judges discovered an “incredible, rich, oily and smooth” palate, “with a very luxurious mouthfeel”.
“The smoked note intensifies a bit and becomes a little more prominent, with sour yoghurt in the back,” one judge noted. “It’s an earthy, vibrant and complex liquid that feels like the perfect sipping mezcal.”
The bottling was ultimately given a Master medal, and summed up in a single word: “brilliant”.
Price: £63.99 (US$87)
The latter is aged for up to six months in American white oak and European acacia casks – enough time for it to develop a “lovely long finish with oak and earthy, smoky notes lingering for ages”, according to our judges. The expression was a standout in its flight, and ultimately secured a Master medal.