When it comes to tequila, the term “top shelf” is often used to describe the highest quality and most premium bottles available. These tequilas are typically made from 100% blue agave and are crafted with great care and attention to detail. From the production process to the aging methods, top shelf tequilas are known for their exceptional flavor profiles and smooth finishes.
One of the key factors that sets top shelf tequila apart is the aging process. Many of these tequilas are aged in oak barrels, which imparts rich and complex flavors to the spirit. Additionally, top shelf tequilas are often produced in small batches, allowing for greater control over the quality and consistency of the final product. Whether enjoyed neat, on the rocks, or in a cocktail, these top shelf spirits offer a premium drinking experience that is sure to be savored by tequila enthusiasts and connoisseurs alike.
Clase Azul tequila disproves the theory that you can’t judge a book by its cover. The top shelf spirit comes in a striking ceramic decanter. Just as Mexican artists created the iconic vessel, Mexican culture infuses each sip of tequila. Clase Azul traces its roots back to 1997 when Arturo Lomeli crafted the spirit in Guadalajara. The distiller makes its tequila from blue agave, resulting in a sweeter product. Clase Azul is a smooth liquor with hints of vanilla and caramel.
Don Julio 1942
Don Julio Gonzalez revolutionized tequila production in 1942. The pioneer hand-planted his agave far apart, allowing each shoot ample room for growth. Gonzalez selected the best-matured agave and used it to craft the world’s first luxury tequila. Don Julio tequila has a complex taste. Each sip holds caramel, toffee, and chocolate undertones. The tequila has a soft, honey flavor.
One of the world’s most recognizable tequilas, Patron uses the best Weber Blue Agave to craft a sweet, delicious spirit. Hand-crafted in Jalisco, Mexico, Patron ages its Anejo tequila for a full year before bottling. The small-batch liquor has a smoky, oaky flavor. Vanilla, raisin, and honey undertones round out the flavor profile.
Cirilo Oropeza created Espolon Blanco in 1998 with the simple intention of making quality tequila available to the masses. Cirilo built his distillery at a high altitude in Los Altos de Jalisco. Espolon makes its crystal-clear blanco tequila from 100 percent Blue Weber agave. Espolon blanco has a peppery flavor with earthy undertones. The mild tequila carries hints of vanilla and lemon.
Master distiller, Pedro Juarez, began making Milagro tequila in 1998. The company uses the best blue agave to craft a superior spirit. Milagro ages its Reposado Tequila in American oak barrels for between two and four months. Milagro Reposado has a warm, spicy flavor. The tequila carries notes of caramel and vanilla.
Cincoro is the unlikely brain-child of five NBA team owners, including Michael Jordan. The basketball professionals bonded over a love of tequila and decided to try their hands at crafting the spirit. Cincoro crafts five types of tequila from 100 percent Blue Weber agave. The spirit tastes of nutmeg, cloves, and cinnamon. Vanilla and caramel provide the strongest flavors.
Jon-Paul Fortunati founded Cazcanes tequila in 2016. The recipe is simple but classic. Cazcanes combines extremely pure water drawn from underground springs with Weber Blue Lowland agave. The distillery uses a 300-year-old indigenous recipe. Cazcanes tastes a bit like Kentucky bourbon but with notes of toasted coconut and pickled carrots.
George Clooney: we trust him with our cinema, and we trust him with our tequila. Clooney teamed up with Rande Gerber and Mike Meldman to launch a top-shelf tequila company in 2013. Casamigos was born of the trio’s love of the pure, uncut spirit. Casamigos is a mild tequila with delicate fruit flavors. The spirit carries undertones of papaya, vanilla, and guava.
Avion Reserva 44
Avion began making sweet, smooth tequila in 2009. The distillery roasts high-quality Jalisco agave over three days, creating a rich caramelization that infuses every sip of tequila. The spirit has a full and complex flavor. Avion Reserva 44 tastes of caramel, vanilla, and oak. Spices, including cinnamon, provide the tequila with a pleasant warmth.
Fortaleza is a newer tequila to the market. The distillery launched in 2005; however, the founders come from a rich tequila-making heritage. Con Cenobio, the creators’ great-grandfather, perfected the art of steaming agave. Fortaleza continues Cenobio’s tradition with its top-shelf tequila. The company uses blue agave for its recipe—the spirit tastes of vanilla, apples, citrus, and cinnamon flavor.
Riazul Tequila Anejo
Riazul tequila grew into a formidable distillery out of only 100 initial agave shoots. Inaki Orozco planted the agave that launched one of the world’s premier tequila companies. The distillery sits on the Jalisco highlands, where the soil makes the agave particularly sweet. Riazul tequila anejo has a warm, indulgent flavor—the spirit tastes of butter, cinnamon, and caramel.
Siembra Azul Blanco
Siembra spirits strives to make honest, ethical tequila. The company pays those harvesting its agave fair wages, an uncommon practice. Siembra spirits prioritize tradition. The distillery grows its agave in the Jalisco lowlands. Siembra azul blanco has an earthy taste. The clean flavor features undertones of banana, black pepper, and brine.
El Tesoro Anejo
El Tesoro tequila is Don Felipe Camarena’s legacy. The tequilero founded the distillery in 1937 and passed the company to his children and grandchildren. El Tesoro remains in the Camarenas’ hands, a labor of family love. The distillery grows its agave in the Jalisco highlands. The tequila has a rich, sweet flavor, evoking grapefruit, toffee, and chamomile tea notes.
Tequila Ocho Plata
Carlos Camarena and Tomas Estes combined their collective tequila knowledge in 2008 to form Tequila Ocho. The duo similarly approaches tequila creation to wine production, focusing on terroir. Tequila Ocho uses Blue Weber Agave to craft its Plata. The spirit tastes of mint, black pepper, and tropical fruit.
G4 Extra Anejo
G4 tequila is another creation of the Camarena family, also responsible for Tequila Ocho and El Tesoro featured on this list. G4 ages its Extra Anejo tequila in oak American bourbon barrels for at least four years. G4 Extra Anejo tequila is a mild, delicate spirit. The liquor tastes of citrus, berries, oak, and vanilla.
Gran Patron Burdeos
We return to the Patron distillery for Gran Patron Burdeos. The company makes superior spirits from blue agave. Gran Patron Burdeos uses agave grown in the Jalisco highlands. Patron distills Gran Patron Burdeos twice, then ages the spirit in American and French oak barrels. The company finishes the tequila in Bordeaux wine barrels. The finished product tastes of vanilla and raisin.
Volcan De Mi Tierra
Volcan De Mi Tierra is the passion project of the Gallardo family. Moet Hennessy paired with the family in 2014 to create a unique Mexican-French hybrid tequila. The distillery is invested in creating sustainable tequila while supporting the local community. Volcan De Mi Tierra’s unique flavor combines citrus and herbal notes. Undertones of cherry, pear flavor, and grapefruit round out the flavor profile.
Tears of Llorona Extra Anejo
German Gonzalez Gorrochotegui took the idea for his carefully crafted tequila from a tragic folktale. The story of a mournful woman inspired Germany to develop a time-intensive, small-batch tequila in 2012. Tears of Llorona Extra Anejo tastes of dark chocolate, caramel, custard, and toffee. Raisin undertones round out the flavor profile.
Felix Lopez founded Tequila Herradura in 1870. The distillery remained in his family for 125 years before being sold to an American company called Brown-Forman. Despite the exchange of ownership, Herradura remains committed to making authentically Mexican tequila in Jalisco, Mexico. Herradura is a smooth tequila with a sweet flavor, and the spirit tastes of honey, toasted almonds, and caramel.
Even David Lee Roth fans will enjoy Cabo Wabo, Sammy Hagar’s tequila company. The former Van Halen frontman founded the distillery in 1996 in Jalisco. Cabo Wabo uses 100 percent blue agave to make a smooth tequila that goes down easy. Cabo Wabo is sweet and mild. Discerning palates will detect notes of apple, citrus, licorice, and spices.