What is good tequila?

BBum at Tequila Partida

This weblog post is at least a decade in the making. Seriously. I wrote the original version of this sometime in the late ’90s as a mailing list post, then revised it again when someone at Apple asked for tequila recommendations. Likely forwarded it a dozen times or so in the interim years.

Every time I forward it, I said “I should weblog this thing”. So, here it is — with some additional edits, too. Like my “So you wanna buy a big green egg” post, I’ll likely edit this over the coming years, too.

I’m going to break this into two separate posts; one about tequila and one about margaritas. Eventually, I’ll make a third post about cooking, agave, and tequila.

First, Cuervo Gold is not good tequila. It is actually a really terrible product, quality wise, backed by some brilliant market. Sadly, most of the tequila consumed in the United States is Cuervo Gold or something equally as bad. And by “bad”, I mean bad taste and vicious hangover.

Good tequila is almost always a tequila that is made from alcohol distilled from 100% blue agave. Specifically, the species Agave Weber Tequilana. This plant of the class Liliopsida (Lilies) has nothing to do with cactus. Blue agave is grown primarily in the Mexican state of Jalisco.

More specifically, Cuervo gold is a Tequila Mixto, Joven Abocado or, more precisely, young and adulterated tequila.

By Mexican law, adulterated tequilas are at least 51% blue agave. The other 49% is generally comprised of the absolute cheapest, nastiest, sugar cane based liquor. If you are familiar with big city corner bodegas, the cheap rum in the plastic bottle on the bottom shelf behind the counter. “Bum rum” we called it in NYC.

Adulterated tequila would not have any color. To give it color and take a bit of edge off, Cuervo (and others) add caramel. This ultra-nasty combination of cheap cane sugar alcohol and low quality agave distillate is the reason for the vicious hangover. Those massive nasty sugar molecules (Nonsense — massive nasty adultrants, as Sean points out in comments) break down into all sorts of evils that take your body a long time to metabolize. Hence, a Cuervo/adulterated tequila hangover is a trip through hell.

If all you have had is Cuervo (or Mezcal with a worm in it), then you really ought to give a true 100% blue agave tequila a chance… it is a night and day kind of experience.

Not all adulterated tequilas are bad. There are some excellent adulterated tequilas available, but they are very hard to find. Visit Tommy’s and Julio has ’em all.

Of the 100% blue agave tequilas, there are 3 4 kinds; blanco, reposado, anejo, and extra anejo. Extra anejo was created in 2006 as a new market segment identifier.

It is important to note that, in all segments, there are examples of tequilas that are excellent for sipping straight and others that are really only appropriate in a mix.

Blanco or Silver

Pure 100% Blue Agave Tequila

A relatively unaged tequila. That is, the tequila is made from alcohol fermented from sugars found in the blue agave plant and then distilled. This is generally filtered such that it is bottled as a clear liquid, typically once fermentation is finished. Some blancos will be rested for upwards of 45 days, typically in large stainless steel tanks. Some distilleries will oxygenate the tequila during this period of time, taking a bit of the edge off of the flavors.

Blanco or silver tequilas are generally fruitier and will have a bit of a bite to them. Personally, a good blanco margarita is my favorite kind. El Tesoro, Herradura, and Fortaleza all make stellar blanco tequilas.

Note that El Tesoro Platinum (blanco) has just a tiny bit of color. Unlike most tequilas, it is actually distilled to proof — that is, distilled to the bottling strength and not diluted down to bottle strength with water. It has less filtration and, thus, just a bit of color usually. El Tesoro Platinum provides one of the most herbaceous of the silver tequilas, offering the distinct flavors of the highland agave from which it is made.

The Partida bottle on the right in the first picture in this post is Partida’s excellent blanco, the absolutely clarity of which is obvious in that picture.

The tequila pouring out of the spout and through the bit of cheese cloth is about 70% alcohol agave distillate that, with water added to bring it down to 40% ABV, would be Centinela blanco.

Los Abuelos Reposado Tequila


This is a slightly aged or “rested” tequila. The tequila in this segment is aged for more than 2 months but less than a year in oak barrels of any size; often hundreds of gallons. The aging process takes a bit of the bite and fruitiness off of the tequila, replacing it with a touch of the wood within which the liquid is stored.

Many common and relatively cheap, decent quality, brands are often reposados. Some examples include Hornitos (a Sauza brand), Cazadores, and Cabrito. Of the three, Cabrito — Centinela’s discounted label — is, by far, the best. Of these, I would only use them in margaritas.

I prefer reposados because they carry forth both the distinct flavors of the agave used in production and the style of distillation and aging implied by the distillery.

My two favorite general purpose sipping (i.e. awesome quality casual sipping or mixing tequilas) tequilas are both reposados. From the town of Tequila in the heartlands of Jalisco comes Fortaleza, made by Guillermo Erickson Sauza (fifth generation in the Sauza family). El Tesoro Reposado is made in the highlands town of Arandas by the Camarena family.

In the united states, once you move beyond the mixtos, the most commonly sold tequilas are either silvers or anejos.

Not so in Mexico. The most commonly sold tequilas in Jalisco are reposados. When a family — an extended family in US terms — gathers for a meal, you’ll typically see a bottle of reposado or two on the table. Some drink it straight, some mixed with grapefruit juice and/or fresca.

This isn’t surprising. Reposados offer a bit more smoothness — more sippable oakiness — than blancos, while still preserving the characteristic vegetal flavors from the agave.

And they are considerably cheaper than anejos.

Nothing beats a lazy sunday afternoon meal of tortillas, carnitas, various veggies and salsas, accompanied by a great reposado and a handful of different refreshing fruit juices and sodas to mix it with!


To be in this class, a tequila must be aged in small oak barrels. Typically, in 55 gallon bourbon, whiskey or cognac barrels (though occasionally aged in anything from port to new oak barrels). Due to the aging in small batches in previously used liquor barrels, an Anejo tequila will take on the flavor of whatever was aged in the barrel.

Aging can last anywhere from 1 to 3 years, after which it becomes an extra anejo.

Some tequilas are aged in multiple kinds of barrels and then blended afterwords, possibly with more aging and often falling, again, in the category of extra anejo.

During aging in these smaller barrels, upwards of 20% of the liquid in the barrel is lost per year due to evaporation. This loss is called the angel’s share and, given the volume lost, there must be some awesome angel parties in Mexico. The loss can be reduced by humidifying the aging warehouse / cave, but doing so both changes the nature of the resulting product and runs the risk of molds or other evil bugs taking up residence in the barrel wood, potentially ruining whole barrels.

Flavors for well made Anejos move more towards scotches, whiskeys, bourbons, and the like. That is, you’ll taste more of the wood, it will typically be smoother, and there will be less of a vegetal flavor.

Extra Anejo

This category was created in 2006 to provide an at-a-glance means of identifying the relatively rare tequilas that are aged for more than 3 years. Obviously, the angel’s share for a 3+ year old tequila is significantly larger and, thus, most of the tequila’s in this class are considerably more expensive.

This is also the category where you will find tequilas that have been aged in multiple barrel types, blended and then aged more.

Flavors in this category tend to be more unique and more intense, with some extra anejos approaching 20+ year old scotch in intensity and smoothness.

Interestingly, tequila really doesn’t change much when it is left in the barrel for more than 7 years. Because the evaporation rate is high, the claim is that the aging process is accelerated. That does seem to be the case in that tequila picks up the flavors of the wood and gains an aged smoothness much more rapidly than scotches. Certainly, after 7 years in the barrel with 10% or 15% of the remaining volume lost per year, the concentration of the flavors in the remaining liquid will increase rapidly!

There exists awesome tequilas in all of the above market segments and any good tequila will make a good margarita, too. A good margarita should carry through the flavors of the tequila used, though some of the subtleties of an anejo or extra anejo will be lost.

I have been harsh on Cuervo. Cuervo does make some great tequilas. Their “Reserva De L’Familia” line is 100% blue agave and it is quite delicious. However, it is relatively expensive and I find the flavors to be overwhelming. For considerably less money, it is easy to find much better quality products.

108 Responses to “What is good tequila?”

  1. Daniel Paso says:

    Wow. This is fantastic – thank you. I know little about tequila besides the fact that the stuff served at Tommy’s is excellent. Thank you for sharing your knowledge on the subject. I’m looking forward to applying some of this on my own.


  2. Ståle says:

    Bill, how do you feel about Patron?

  3. bbum says:

    I really need to do a “guide to Tequilas” post.

    Patron? New patron is a completely unremarkable, solidly average, product. Nothing to complain about, but nothing outstanding, either. Not surprising — Patron is all about brand, consistency of product, and efficiency in manufacturing. It is no longer an artisan tequila. Instead, Patron focuses on 100% consistency through blending, three to 5 distillations, and heavy filtration. It has no character.

    Old patron, though, was an amazing product. It was distilled by the same folks that make 7 Leguas (Siete Leguas) — an awesome product — and, then, was an incredible product. In 2002, Patron left behind Siete Leguas and moved to their own distillery, focusing on quantity and brand over craftsmanship.

    Personally? I would never turn down Patron, but I won’t seek it out either. Through marketing and availability, Patron is often the first real tequila that many folk taste and it is certainly orders of magnitude better than Cuervo Gold.

    Unrelated: Patron was created by Paul Mitchell’s — the hair dude — partner.

  4. Jeffrey J Hoover says:


    So you posted this right before Tommy’s closed at 2 AM, huh? Coincidence?

    I totally agree with you regarding Reposado. I like the Los Abelous reposado better than their añejo.

    Good post!

  5. evgen says:

    Yes, a guide to decent Tequilas would be nice. As a single-malt guy I spent my available distillery-memorization space on learning a different product, so I end up playing russian roulette when it comes to Tequila. I have learned some to avoid, but often find that when I have a good one I either forget which one it was or simply can’t find it at the next place I visit which has a decent selection. A list of two or three that are mass-market and widely distributed along with another two or three that are a little harder to find but worth the effort to memorize the name would be nice. I am guessing that all of the really good stuff is small-batch product that non-aficonados are unlikely to find or notice if they see it, but a short list of stuff we might run into that is worth getting would be appreciated.

  6. DMB says:

    A typical cork-sniffer’s review, as if it has to be “from the heartland” and from “highlands” to be any good. I’ve been to Mexico and asked actual Mexicans what they like to drink and what’s the best stuff to buy. I came back with a couple of bottles of Don Julio Reposado.

  7. the emotional pumpkin » Days like this, I love the internet. says:

    […] What is good tequila? As Gruber says: “bookmark immediately.” in raves tagged with tequila […]

  8. heimerwisen says:

    The Tequila Book: A Complete Guide, by Bob Emmons

    Worth a read, or at least a page. Funny guy Bob.

    El Tesoro Blanco. Neat. Otherwise why bother.

    If you go for silly girl drinks, at least do it right…

    El Tesoro Blanco
    top-shelf orange liqueur
    fresh-squeezed lime juice
    crushed salt on the wet rim (if ya really gotta… but you really shouldn’t)

    Yes, there’s a special ratio to those ingredients.

    That’s it. Do NOT use mixer. May as well be drinking cheap-ass mixto.

  9. rhesuspieces00 says:

    I’m a big fan of Corazon Reposado, myself. Unfortunately, a couple years ago Spirit Journal or some such decided they felt the same way and the price increased rather substantially.

  10. exit17 » Blog Archive » I drink good tequila so I can function the next day. says:

    […] interesting article about what good tequila is. And explains why I scream at people who think Curevo Gold is good, and why I spend $50 on the […]

  11. zacksback says:

    Agree with evgen. A list of brands that are available here in states would be very much appreciated. Even living here in Az, I’m lazy and would like to skip the drive to Mexico just for a tequila run.

  12. JohnnyTequila says:

    As a sipper/GP tequila, we’ve been drinking Chamucos reposada especial. Yum.

    Couldn’t agree more about the Patron.

    Thanks for the discussion!

  13. Thomas Paine says:

    Awesome guide. I always wondered what the differences between the various grades were. This also explains the phrase I use to describe why I no longer drink Cuervo “I got in a fight with Jose, and Jose won”.

    Ditto to what evgen said … a guide to some good mass-market decently priced tequilas would be awesome.

    Would also be cool if each tequila brand you mentioned was linked to a picture of the bottle … my memory for names is horrible, but I rather well with pictures 😉

  14. Thomas Paine says:

    *but I _do_ rather well with pictures*

  15. Ben Lewis says:

    Great post. I feel compelled to mention that Tommy’s is on approximately 25th and Geary in San Francisco, and is well worth a visit for anyone who found this post interesting (I do not work there and am not affiliated with them in any way). I got basically this entire lesson from the bartender there one day – while I was drinking samples of everything mentioned. When you drink good tequila, and only good tequila, my opinion is that it’s the best alcohol buzz around.

  16. Marcos says:

    I’m a big Tequila driker. Centinela is very good but hard to find, at least in the U.S. or even in my hometown of Monterrey.

    Lately, for regular consumption I enjoy Herradura Antiguo very much: It’s a lot less expensive than Herradura Reposado and very, very smooth and tasty as well. A real value. You should try it if you haven’t.

    Also, as a personal rule and for my own health, I never drink a Tequila that isn’t 100% pure blue agave.

  17. archie4oz says:

    I’m a Herradurra Añejo sipper myself…

  18. zigziggityzoo says:

    Has anyone ever heard of 3 Caballos Tequila? I got a bottle of that from my parents when they took a trip to Los Cabos in Mexico. I’ve not tried it yet.

  19. Jeff says:


    I’ve never, ever liked Tequila, but after reading this great article, I’m considering giving it a second, more informed, try. Of course, after a week at WWDC, it’s going to be a few more weeks before I’m interested in alcohol of any kind.

  20. Bill Morgan says:

    Good intro. Don Julio strikes me as too smooth, with too little Tequila character, so my favorite these days is Espolon Añejo. Sounds like I need to check out El Tesoro.

    Another drink to check out is Sotol, a tequila-like drink distilled from a variety of agave grown in the state of Chihuahua. Hacienda de Chihuahua Añejo is right up there with a fine Tequila in flavor, and $10-20 a bottle cheaper.

    Your dismissal of “Mezcal with a worm in it” sounds like you’ve never had a really good Mezcal. They do exist, and can be wonderful. Different Mezcals have much more variety of flavor than different Tequilas, some with a smoky character, some herbal, some piney, and some indescribable. My favorite of the ones commonly found the States is Monte Alban. Unfortunately, the only way I know to try a good variety of different Mescals is to go bar-hopping in Oaxaca City. (Be sure to stay within crawling distance of your hotel.)


  21. New York City : Dining News Elsewhere: More Tomato Trouble, San Domenico's "Alumni Dinner" says:

    […] – What does make good tequila? [bbum's weblog-o-mat] […]

  22. Mas Tequila! | Vegan.com says:

    […] Therefore, I’m linking to this piece. Link. Spread the word: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and […]

  23. Houman says:

    Bill you are the BEST!! Please let me know when you release the coffee table book!

  24. Boston : Dining News Elsewhere: Tainted Tomatoes, Foul Food at Fenway says:

    […] – What does make good tequila? [bbum's weblog-o-mat] […]

  25. Alderete says:

    @Bill Morgan: I know for a fact that bbum was not dismissing Mezcal as a whole, just the cheap Mezcal that has the worm gimmick to get people to buy it after seeing Urban Cowboy or whatever. There are great Mezcals, and having talked agave spirits with him more than once, Bill definitely knows it.

    For additional blog posts on tequila, I wrote a couple a while back. Similar stuff to Bill’s post, with different thoughts and omissions. The posts are older, and some information about specific brands is a little dated, but overall they might be useful:

    Tequila 101
    Everything you need to know about ordering tequila
    Tequila Recommendations

    Finally, let me +1 the recommendation to go to Tommy’s Mexican Restaurant, sit in the bar, and learn about tequila in the best English-speaking classroom in the world on the subject.

  26. Mike says:

    A great article! Thanks for writing it! I found it a review for myself, but it is something I plan forwarding to all my friends who are sick of me talking about tequila while they are just trying to find a chaser. :)

    I like to explore some of the more varied Anejos versus Reposados. Speaking of El Tesoro, one of my favorites tequila’s is El Tesoro’s Paradiso. I could sit around slowly drinking that all day long. People who come from a strong whiskey background may be right at home with it. I had never heard of the term “Extra Anejo” before you mentioned here. Though I have a bottle sitting on my desk…On my honeymoon in Mexico, I brought back a bottle of Herradura Seleccion Suprema. Much cheaper in Mexico then buying it back here. However, it didn’t live up to its reputation. Though the scroll in the box proclaims that it is Mexico’s best tequila ever made, I have to disagree.

    I agree whole heartedly on the Patron description. That is lowest you can go in my book, you keep it around for visitors who like a lime and salt with their tequila! (Although, I would say the absolute lowest is 1800 if you are stuck in an airport :)

    For people getting started with something above Cuervo Sour Mash, I would suggest Tres Generaciones Anejo as an affordable, very tasty start. It can be had for about the same price as Patron Anejo and offers a much better taste.

  27. Bill Bumgarner on Tequila at Dethroner says:

    […] What is good tequila? [Friday.com] […]

  28. Tom says:

    For 25 years I’ve been under the impression tequila is the one liquor that continues to age once bottled, as wine does. Have I been misled?

  29. Lee says:

    Great reading and worthy of becoming a good book some day. I’ve been sampling tequilas for a couple years now. I’ve grown fond of 1800’s Silver. I’m looking forward to trying all the recommended brands you mention above.

    Thanks for the great post!

  30. Geoff says:

    My favorite affordable, readily available (at least in the Southeastern U.S.) tequila is Don Eduardo reposado. My favorite margarita recipe:
    * Jigger (1.5 oz.) of good reposado tequila
    * Jigger of Cointreau
    * Jigger of Nellie and Joe’s Key West Lime Juice

    Shake and strain into an unsalted, ice-filled glass.

  31. On good Tequila | Swanky Conservative says:

    […] Bumgarner breaks down that wondrous spirit of the Southwest, Tequila. And no, that stuff with the worm in the bottom of it that we brought back from Mexico during […]

  32. Chris says:

    Three words: El Tesoro Paradiso. Now if I only knew where to get it for less than $120 per bottle…


  33. HappyConsumer - What is good tequila? says:

    […] Excellent writeup on the wide world of tequila. Starts with the obvious (Cuervo is not good tequila) and then moves on to define the different tequila varieties. This reminds me…I haven’t had a good tequila in a while. I’ll have to remedy that…[via Daring Fireball] […]

  34. Steve says:

    I enjoyed the post, but I was hopping to hear more about your favorites and specific ones to try.

    The different grades or types of tequila are pretty general knowledge for most tequila drinkers. I just walked away with El Tesoro.

  35. Raul says:

    Being the fact that I got Mexican blood, I guess I should chime in – but I’m not really a tequila drinker. This post is useful, though! I like Don Julio, and Patrón. I think my Mom bought me some gourmet tequila but I can’t remember what it was. The other one I really liked was Cazadores.

  36. fscked.co.uk » Blog Archive » links for 2008-06-19 says:

    […] What is good tequila? Hmm. Turns out tequila is as complicated as whisky… (tags: cooking food drink alcohol tequila) […]

  37. ctors says:

    I’d never call myself a connoisseur, but I can say I have had a bit too much tequila at times… Here’s my list: Tequila Nacional (if you can find it. PLEASE BRING IT BACK), Pura Sangre Blanco (also, if you can find it), Hacienda del Cristero Blanco, and for every day mixing.. Cazadores.

  38. links for 2008-06-20 at found_drama says:

    […] What is good tequila? via DF (and I don’t even like tequila; and maybe this is why…?) (tags: food essay tequila todo) […]

  39. El Jefe says:

    We gotta talk. :)

    I’ve been drinking tequila in Mexico for 17 years, and for the past six years I’ve been using Bob Emmons’ book as a research guide. We have extensive tasting parties at the hotel (until we get too “tasted”), so I’ve got a lot of notes on a lot of tequilas. I also have what may be the last stash of brand new Emmons 2002 Revised Edition books, in case anyone’s jonesin’, lol. I still think it’s the best book around. (Seen the used ones on Amazon for $300? ¡Caramba!)

    Just to reinforce your and others’ comments (not to mention Emmons’): Hands down, El Tesoro Blanco is the most authentic tequila I’ve ever tasted. I haven’t had the Paradiso. El Tesoro Reposado, however, is off my list. It used to be my main tequila until Lot R-1029 was released several years ago. It sucked. Tasted nothing like a good tequila should. Lot R-1025 rocked, Lot R-1030 is better than 1029, but still doesn’t hold a candle to R-1025. If you can find any R-1025 still on the shelf, buy it! (I don’t know if they use these numbers on the fancy, square bottles exported to the US.)

    Reposados, and especially añejos, that have soaked up too much residual whiskey flavor from their barrels make me gag. If I wanted scotch I’d buy good scotch. On my way home this winter I brought a bottle of San Matias/Puebla Vieja “120 Años” añejo, because it was highly recommended. Tastes like scotch. Feh. Why grow agave for eight to ten years when you can grow corn in six months? (Er, as a matter of fact, the Mexicans are asking themselves that same question. With the current agave glut, many are plowing it under and growing corn for ethanol.)

    Partida Reposado is outstanding. Ironically, it’s priced the same in Southern Jalisco as it is in my local Washington State liquor store. Considering the taxes Washington piles on, I can’t figure this one out. The Tesoro Blanco is less than half the cost in Mexico.

    Cabrito used to be 100% agave. It was dumbed down to a mixto around 2001, when the agave shortage pushed reposado prices through the roof. (Priced a bottle of Herradura lately? 378p for the .950 bottle down south. I used to get it for 87!) El Jimador (Casa Herradura) was also dumbed down. Even though the reposado is now “double distilled,” it’s still a mixto. If you act fast you may be able to find a bottle of El Jimador’s 10th anniversary release, which *is* 100% agave. In a hotel taste test between the 10th Anniversario, the current mixto and a bottle of 2001 pre-dumbed 100% reposado, the 2001 took the honors.

    Anybody know for sure what happened to D’Reyes? Their Anniversario used to totally rock, but it’s disappeared. Can’t even special order it in Barra de Navidad. There’s a 100% reposado on the market, but it’s strictly margarita quality.

    Finally (or I’ll have to start my own darned blog, LOL!), I had a killer reposado in Chicago a couple weeks ago, Romance (from Milagro). At least I think it was the reposado. The bottle has separate chambers for reposado and añejo! Crack the piggy bank for this one, peeps. Or, if you’re in the vicinity of W.18th & S. Racine, stop into the bar at Cuernavaca restaurant. (A review of Romance is at http://tinyurl.com/6y39cd)

  40. Tequilasomethingorother says:

    Nice site and explains the different variations…although I find them questionable since the Mexican distilleries usually decides what to call it. Not much government regulation.

    I was exposed to Herradura tequila thiry-five years ago. A worker who I managed gave me a bottle in celebration of my becoming the plant manager, before that I had never tried tequila. I was immediately taken by the fact it had very little taste other than a faint taste of alcohol. It was like drinking water tinged with alcohol. That was bad…I drink the whole bottle but, the hangover was very mild. Since that time I’ve been to many celebrations in Mexico covering all levels of society. No matter what the celebration there was always a bottle of Herradura reserved for the head table guests to celebrate the toast. All others got a homemade tequila that was very good but a little rough on the edges. Ever since that time I’ve found no other tequila that surpasses Herradura in taste or quality and I have drink many.

    Having said that….

    In 1990 my girlfriend and I, on recommendation of a good friend, went to Baja California and stayed at the famous La Fonda Restaurant and “hotel”. Unless you’ve been and stayed there you won’t understand the whole experience of La Fonda. Anyway, we had dinner (the restaurant was full) and adjourned to the bar. My girlfriend and I had three margaritas each…which at the end I said, “Damn, I’m really buzzed”. Her eyes were half opened and all she could mutter was “yeah”. I had never got that buzzed so soon. We had two more each before we stumbled to our room which, thank God, was not far away. The next morning our hangovers were that bad.

    On our second visit we met a older American gentlemen (at the bar..of course) who live a short distance away and was a regular at La Fonda. He told us the tequila served there was uncut and high proof…somewhere around 130. He did say it was filtered. He told us it came to the restaurant in two liter soft drink bottles and transferred over to used tequila bottles so that nobody Knew. He lean over to us and in a quite voice told us that if we were very generous to a certain bartender we could buy one of the two liter bottles for about twenty dollars. It wasn’t until our sixth or seventh visit that I tried to make ‘contact’ with the bartender. It took me two twenties to get him to do the deed. We were to leave the bar and go to the side of the restaurant which we did. Soon a young Mexican boy appeared and gave me the two litter bottle. I opened it a took a sip…it was the real stuff. I gave him a twenty and we left. That night on the balcony we sipped out of the two litter bottle. Since then I have never tasted anything that come close to the purity and taste and…bang. The last time I was there (2005) the ‘certain’ bartender was no longer there and the others would not even acknowledged the source. Since that time, I’m told, the restaurant and ‘hotel’ has been sold. I have not been back since 2005.

    I have tasted the white nectar of unadulterated tequila as it was made to be tasted and I have found nothing…nothing that has even come close.

  41. Hawkweight says:

    Love this post. Great information and I have a new interest in Tequila. My last Tequila episode was in 1993 when I woke in an abandon industrial park somewhere in Michoacán surrounded by chain link and razor wire in a pool of yellow fluid next to a massive rusted LP tank and sporting a new tattoo that has since gone through 3 unsuccessful laser removal surgeries (the problem with this scenario is that I had begun the journey 40 hours prior in Jackson Hole, WY and there was no memory of anything between the two places, plus I had to be at work the following day, which I adhered to but not before I spent a pile of money I couldn’t afford at the time). I studied up on Scotch after that, and haven’t touched Tequila since. Although, this post enlightens me to the fact that Tequila is not merely an excellent way to prove a guy can survive clinical alcohol poisoning, but, rather, Tequila can be viewed as a complex, finicky, luxurious beverage with many layers and a huge magnetic personality. Next time I’m sober enough to drive I’m definitely going to pick some up and end this “NO TEQUILA” regime of mine.

  42. heimerwisen says:

    @Geoff: Yay Cointreau!

    @El Jefe: Yikes. Used copies of Emmons’ last printing starting at $82.76 on Amazon!? I had no idea. Got a signed first edition from ’97 sitting right here (I did marketing for a book chain at the time… you should have seen the looks when Bob showed up with more than a dozen bottles of Tequila for his book release, it was GREAT, heh heh).

    From a list Bob gave me at the time… maybe readers will find some of these in their locales now that the Revolución del Agave has spread:

    “100% Agave Tequilas available in California

    (as listed alphabetically)

    1. Aquila Añejo, 2. Casta Reposado, 3. Casta Brava Reposado, 4. Casta Gusaño Reposado, 5. Casta Añejo, 6. Cabrito Blanco, 7. Cabrito Gold, 8. Cabrito Reposado, 9. Cazadores Reposado, 10. Centinela Blanco, 11. Centinela Reposado, 12. Centinela Añejo, 13. Centinela Tres Años, 14. Chinaco Blanco, 15. Chinaco Reposado, 16. Chinaco Añejo, 17. Chamucos Añejo, 18. Cuervo Tradiciónal Reposado, 19. Cuervo 1800 Reserva Antigua, 20. Cuervo Reserva de la Familia, 21. del Dueño Añejo, 22. El Amo Aceves Añejo, 23. El Charro, 24. El Jimador Blanco, 25. El Jimador Reposado, 26. El Puente Viejo Reposado, 27. El Tesoro Blanco, 28. El Tesoro Reposado, 29. El Tesoro Añejo, 30. Gran Centenario Blanco, 31. Gran Centenario Reposado, 32. Herradura Blanco, 33. Herradura Silver, 34. Herradura Reposado, 35. Herradura Añejo, 36. Herradura Seleción Suprema, 37. Hussong’s Reposado, 38. Lapiz Añejo, 39. Las Trancas Reposado, 40. Los Valientes Reposado, 41. Patron Silver, 42. Patron Añejo, 43. Porfidio Plata Triple Distilled, 44. Porfidio Silver, 45. Porfidio Añejo, 46. Porfidio Cactus Bottle Añejo, 47. Pueblo Viejo Blanco, 48. Pueblo Viejo Reposado, 49. Pueblo Viejo Añejo, 50. Puerto Vallarta Reposado, 51. Revolución Reposado, 52. Rio de Plata Añejo, 53. Sauza Galardo Reposado, 54. Sauza Hornitos Reposado, 55. Sauza Tres Generaciónes”

    I still vote for the Blancos, specially the El Tesoro.

    If you’re hosting a group of people who would find straight Blanco too potent, go with Geoff’s rec, which is what Bob’s book refers to as “The Sames Margarita” –the ‘original’ recipe invented by Mrs. Margarita Sames. Only her version calls for THREE shots of 100% Blue Agave Tequila to one part Cointreau and one part fresh lime juice. Olé!

  43. Je77 says:

    Nice post. It’s concise and well written: a great guide for beginners.

    I do have to disagree with you on some preferences. First and foremost, Cazadores Reposado rocks. I’ve hosted several tequila tastings and it always ranks near the top. It’s my favorite tequila and I keep coming back to it again and again. It’s also solidly the best buy I can think of. Second, Cabo Wabo Reposado has a special place in my heart for being unusual. Finally, for those that prefer a slightly sweeter and smoother drink, Gran Centenario Reposado is sure to please (somehow the price on this one varies greatly).

    One subject you could have mentioned is that great taste in one variety does not imply great taste in another variety from the same manufacturer. While I love Cazadores Reposado, the blanco and anejo are unfortunate attempts to cash in. While the Gran Centenario Reposado is worth seeking out, the blanco is dull and the anejo is only a tamer version of the reposado. I found Chinaco Reposado to be so disappointing (only relegated to Margarita status) that I didn’t even open the Chinaco Anejo someone gave me for more than a year. This was a mistake, since Chinaco Anejo is excellent. Of the lines I’ve tasted, I find Patron, El Tesoro, and Don Julio to be consistently good (though different in taste from each other), so I’d recommend those for comparing varieties while keeping the manufacturer the same.

    On a final note, Patron Blanco (3 oz), Patron Citronge (2 oz), juice of one lemon, and juice of one lime is a great margarita.

  44. El Jefe says:

    @heimerwisen: I see Amazon is displaying all copies of Bob’s books as if they’re the 2002 Revised Edition. If you’re going to spend $82 plus shipping, make sure you’re really getting that one. They used to list the two editions separately.

    There’s a heck of a lot of new (well, new at the time) info in the 2nd edition. I don’t know what Bob’s up to these days, but someone really needs to write a 3rd edition or some kind of update. The changes in the tequila market have been monumental in the last six years. Btw, you may not be able to find Porfdidio anymore. They were busted big time about four years ago by the Tequila Council, allegedly for “adulterating” their tequila. D’Reyes was caught up in the sting, too, since they were sharing facilities with Porfidio. Might be one reason why D’Reyes is scarce these days.

    @Tequilasomethingorother: You may have been drinking raicilla, amigo. Or some version of mezcal. Raicilla has traditionally been the “moonshine” of Mexico, and until recently was effectively illegal. Now it’s regulated by the Tequila Council and is being exported to the States. I tasted some at a new distillery in Tenacatita back in January, but it was nothing to write home about, and way overpriced at $28. Conversely, if you ever visit El Puercillo restaurant at the same beach, Don Jose has a barrel of mezcal in the back room that he taps for his guests and customers. Some years it’s mediocre, but a few years back it was world class. In those days, when you could carry bottles of liquid on a plane, I filled up a 1.5 liter bottle for 50 pesos. Thankfully (and amazingly, heh), I still have a bit of it left.

  45. CapnVan says:

    Good primer. One point: there’s no real scientific evidence to suggest that hangovers are related in any way to the “quality” or “purity” of an alcoholic beverage. In other words, it’s just as easy to have a bad hangover from Cuervo as it is from drinking the same amount of a real tequila.

  46. sandro says:

    I must try the good Tequila!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  47. websnap says:

    “Good primer. One point: there’s no real scientific evidence to suggest that hangovers are related in any way to the “quality” or “purity” of an alcoholic beverage. In other words, it’s just as easy to have a bad hangover from Cuervo as it is from drinking the same amount of a real tequila.”

    Not true, when caramel is added it increases the sugar content there by increasing dehydration, the main inducer of a hangover.

  48. Amie says:

    I have to say, while your previous tequilla posts had me intrigued, this one definitely has me sold on finding something better than the salt and lime nasty stuff or what might be commonly found in a margarita. Just wondering how much of the good stuff can actually be found here in PA thanks to the ever-Orwellian PLCB.

    Looking forward to seeing how this post evolves over time!

  49. ruindpzzle says:

    Interesting article, coincidentally about tequila in the tech world. 80 proof blanco forming “diamond film” stronger than silicon.

  50. What Makes a Good Tequila | DrinkPlanner says:

    […] about tequila here before briefly, but Bill Bumgarner gives an excellent overview of what makes a good tequila good and a bad tequila bad.  An […]

  51. Links for June 16th through June 20th » jarango.com says:

    […] What is good tequila? […]

  52. pexer says:

    Nice post! I love it when people finally realize Cuervo is crap! There are so many other great tequila’s out there. I used to get El Charro Reposado for $7/bottle in Mexico. It was a really good cheap reposado. I haven’t seen them for awhile, but I am seeing an Anejo version popping up. My personal favorite as a shot is Casa Noble Anejo. Though I have to admit, I do like Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville reposado in my margarita’s with a touch of Damiana and a splash of OJ. 😉 If anyone heads down to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico; make sure you visit Panhco’s (http://www.panchos.com/) This guy has something like 400 different types of Tequila, Mezcal, Pulque, and Racillia. On the web site, there’s a link at the bottom of the page where he talks about the different types.

  53. incompl.com » June Link Dump says:

    […] is some straight-talking about what makes good tequila. I always found that there is some good, subtle, tasty tequilas out there, but now I know what […]

  54. bbum’s weblog-o-mat » Blog Archive » Followup: What is good tequila? says:

    […] I posted What is good tequila? I had no idea that it would generate anywhere near the number of comments that it […]

  55. Ian Chadwick says:

    Thanks for the post. Fun read. Always nice to find someone else spreading the word about good tequila. Just a clarification: blanco isn’t “relatively unaged.” Aging refers to storing a spririt in wood. Blancos are only stored in stainless steel tanks, so they are not aged at all. Some are bottled almost immediately, others are stored for up to 60 syas. But storing is not aging.

    You also say, “Flavors in this category tend to be more unique and more intense, with some extra anejos approaching 20+ year old scotch in intensity and smoothness.” Since this is a new category, there are few of these on the market yet. Because of the laws, extra añejo cannot expressly identify the number of years old it is. It must be at least three, but that’s all you know. Curiously, age can be included on the existing añejo category, so many distillers are not upgrading their classification to extra añejo. I have tasted five- and seven-year-old tequila and it was stunning. I have tasted 10-and 11-year-old tequila and it loses a considerable amount of agave in that time, and is much more like a brandy by then. I prefer a five-seven-year-old.

    The first thing I tell newcomers is to look for “100% agave” on the label. If it doesn’t have that, it’s a mixto and you should ignore it. Don’t even make a margarita with it. There are more than 700 brands of tequila, about 200-300 of them are 100% agave, with the percentage climbing every year.

    And the best thing you can do to truly apperciate the spirit is to take a tour of the tequila producing region. I’ve been there three times and each time I discover something new that enhances my affection for tequila. I hope to return in the late winter or spring of 09.

    If you want to talk tequila with other aficionados, I invite you to join my forum at http://www.ianchadwick.com/forum/index.php. You’ll find a lot of tequila lovers who are eager to share experiences and opinions.


  56. Recent Links: June 15 to June 22 » Alex Jones says:

    […] What is good tequila? Detailed explanation of the different types of tequila. […]

  57. Los Angeles : Dining News Elsewhere: Celeb Restaurateurs, Rethinking Food Bans says:

    […] – What does make good tequila? [bbum's weblog-o-mat] […]

  58. Jose says:

    Have you had Hacienda Vieja yet? I tried it because I was a big fan of Cazadores and I heard it’s from the same Banuelos Family in Mexico. I think it’s a good value because its 100% agave but I’m not sure. I think we paid around $18 for it at the store.

  59. Austoon Daily » What is good tequila? says:

    […] What is good tequila? […]

  60. chefdave says:

    Over the past year I have become a huge fan of Hussongs anejo. We even use 100% pure agave nectar on pancakes @ home. My kids think it tastes better than honey…

  61. Labnotes » Rounded Corners - 204 (Git Day) says:

    […] Tequila! bbum answers the age old question, what is good tequila? […]

  62. Hucbald says:

    I really see no need for the “extra anjeo” category because, as you pointed out, the character of good tequila doesn’t change much, or very fast, after a year or so of aging. For myself, as a desert denizen of far west Texas, I’m a tequila freak, but for consistency and absence of following morning payback, I’ve never been able to beat the Herradura Anejo except in really small batch designer labels, so that’s my choice usually. No mixing and no training wheels. If I’m in the mood for something that bites back (in terms of taste, not hangover), I’ll go with the reposado or the silver Herradura.

    Now, if you want to get into a REAL connoisseur’s desert brew, we can start talking Sotol. Lots of guys know tequila, but hardly anybody understands Sotol.

  63. bbum says:

    The extra anejo category was created specifically as a marketing bucket to allow those that age 3 years or so to be able to differentiate their products from anejos categorically. It wasn’t designed — and isn’t used — to help boutique brands that have unique or otherwise long aging processes as they really don’t need it.

    Tequila does change flavor considerably in the barrel over the course of at least 4 years, but not much after that (and the angel’s share becomes rather HUGE). As well, many makers will age their tequilas in different barrels, moving between, to gain different flavors from a range of different kind of oaks.

    Herradura is just awesome product — can’t go wrong with anything that has the Herradura label!!!

    Sotol: going to have to investigate…

  64. SIGNALS « A Continuous Lean. says:

    […] Tequila like brain surgery | [Friday.com via […]

  65. What is Good Tequila? « Diggin’ in the Crates says:

    […] Diggin’ in the Crates Just another WordPress.com weblog « Ang’s new voice What is Good Tequila? June 24, 2008 Excellent overview here. […]

  66. The Dude Abides » Blog Archive » Bookmarks for June 18th through June 24th says:

    […] bbum’s weblog-o-mat » Blog Archive » What is good tequila? – For the next time I feel like living dangerously… […]

  67. drStrangeloveRX says:

    So glad you posted this, and so glad you began the piece with the same rant i tell everyone who winces nausea when i mention how much i love tequila: “Cuervo Gold is not good tequila.” It’s a shame that the “shot of choice” for undergraduates and party-goers is always Cuervo; it sets them up for a lifetime of naivety. Then again, perhaps its a good thing, because when those of us with the more developed palette expose the novices to the finer agaves in life, we’re seen as mentors and thought leaders, HA!

    I don’t know how many times i bring up the word tequila to someone and he/she immediately says, “Ewww, no, i can’t drink tequila.” I always need to respond: “Then you haven’t had good tequila.” Along that same point, I’ve had people tell me they can’t drink margaritas, to which my response is “Then the margarita was made with the wrong tequila and probably used nasty high fructose corn syrup sour mix.”

    I personally prefer the anejo for my sipping tequilas (Corzo has been my favorite thus far), and switch back and forth between reposado and anejo for my mixed drinks. Milagro anejo is my favorite for mixing; its warmth and mellow oakiness marries well with the fruit flavors.

    My recipe for margaritas (guessing measurements off the top of my head)
    2.5 oz of the love (Mialgro anejo or Herradura reposado)
    0.75 oz Triple sec
    0.5 oz Grand Marnier
    1.25 oz fresh lime, fully squeezed
    1 oz fresh lemon, fully squeezed
    4 oz water sweetened with Agave nectar
    Garnish with a lime and an orange rind twist

  68. antonolsen.com » Blog Archive » links for 2008-06-26 says:

    […] bbum’s weblog-o-mat » Blog Archive » What is good tequila? Good guide to the types of Tequila. (tags: tequila guide howto) […]

  69. Baltimore Squirrels says:

    […] “What i good tequila?“, the followup and a related guide on drinking and buying tequila […]

  70. bbum’s weblog-o-mat » Blog Archive » Apricots Galore (And Muddled Apricot Margarita Recipe) says:

    […] at least two ounces of good quality 100% blue agave tequila.. Add a few ice […]

  71. LickyLicky says:

    I love Tequila. Went out of town for business, and for once, took advantage of someone else paying the tab. That’s when I started drinking Margaritas and moved on later to just Tequila. 1800 Anejo is not the cream of the crop, but isn’t the worst, either. I did manage to get three bottles recently for 26.00 because of a misprint, and you can’t turn that down, even if it’s just for Margs. My absolute choice, the one I go for every chance I get, the one I only share with those I dearly love, is Milagro Romance Anejo. Hand-blown botte with the form of an agave in the bottom. Like warm vanilla, with a mild woody taste. Second favorite, following close behind, is Don Eduardo Anejo- haven’t had the Reposado, but I might have to give it a shot. I am not impressed with Patron at all. Herradura, while very nice, doesn’t top the DE. I did have the regular Milagro Anejo and didn’t like it, an I’ve tried a couple of the ‘limited editions’ that are put out by various labels, but none really impressed me. For my friends who like a Marg with the mix, I buy the sugar-free mix. No one loves a hangover. I’ve explained repeatedly that the main culprit for a super-nasty hangover is sugar, which is also why I don’t do daiquiris anymore. I like a Marg with Cointreau, Grand Marnier (yes, I know, but they work so well together) Tequila, lime juice, and, if requested some SF mix.

  72. Scott says:

    Excellent discussion!

    I am primarily a beer drinker, but like the occasional marg. I very rarely find myself drinking neat liquors unless I am out somewhere…

    What is a good tequila for margs for those on more of a Suaza/Cuervo budget? I read thru the post, but wasn’t sure on what relative pricing was

    Thanks in advance!

  73. rauldukehi says:

    I love your blog I tried to post earlier and I was blocked it told me to contact the site admin. I guess it thought I was spamming.

    I’m going to Tequila tomorrow and visiting several distilleries (afraid to mention a brand name for fear of being blocked by a spam filter again.)
    Wanted to know where BBum’s barrels were purchased from and what process he is using to age his tequila. I have purchased one and it is filled with water already. I had mentioned a brand of tequila that was 46% (won’t mention for fear of spam filter) and wondered if that was what he was using to fill and age his tequila barrel. It must be hard to be so patient.

    If anyone else has done this home barrel aging I’d like to hear from them as well.
    I was also wondering if there were some tequilas not available in the U.S. that I should pick up while in the town of Tequila


  74. bbum says:

    I’ll have to write up my aging experiences.

    Tequila? Let’s see — Herradura, Partida, Arrette, and La Fortaleza are all in or very close to the town of Tequila (those are the distilleries I visited).

    I have used Herradura Blanco in the barrels, but am currently aging Pueblo Viejo Reposado. Mostly, I pick which tequila I’m going to age based upon the quality and price of the source product. For a while, I was able to obtain PV Repo for $21/950ml bottle.

  75. yadona says:

    so bbum which is a good tequila one can buy at a local liquor store?

  76. links for 2008-07-07 | KevinDonahue.com says:

    […] What is good Tequila? (tags: tequila liquor reference interesting guide alcohol food) […]

  77. pot says:

    In my town, I have a choice among these. Which should I choose?

    Sauza: Añejo comemorativo, Tequila blanco, Hornitos reposado, Gold extra
    Jose Cuervo: Clasico, Rojeña blanco, Especial reposado

  78. bbum says:

    Ouch. That is a spectacularly weak selection of tequilas. There has to be something better *somewhere* in your town.

    Of all of that, your best bet is to choose the cheapest one that is 100% blue agave and mix it with something; good fruit juice, simple sodas (bubbly water + sugar + mild flavoring), or the like.

    None of those are sipping tequilas. Actually, if I have successfully identified them, they are all products of Cuervo and Sauza and, thus, all are made with a goal of maximal efficiency and consistency.

  79. drStrangeloveRX says:

    pot, if other liquor stores in your area do not have better selections, ask your local dealer about bringing in a few other brands… even if it is only 1 or 2 bottles. I did that with a dealer once after coming in enough times that he recognized me and we were on a friendly conversation level. I just asked him if he could order a bottle of Milagro or Corzo, to have on hand, and so he did. The dealer doesn’t have to order a full case in order to have some specialty bottles on hand, in fact, they will never order a full case unless they know there’s a demand, but If they know you’ll come in and buy it, they’ll usually order a bottle or two.

    Oh, and Scott, i usually buy Miagro Reposado or Anejo for somewhere around $35-45 (can’t remember exact amounts of the top of my head… might be a little more). Corzo was $55-60.

  80. pot says:

    I live in Italy, where tequila is considered a third-level distillate, well below whisky, cognac, and most notably grappa, the national distillate. Rum is on second level. Tequila is considered, on the same level as gin, vodka and cachaca, only an ingredient for cocktails or bum-bum, and just few people know that it can be drinked alone, but in this case it is considered normal to bite a lemon’s slice and put salt on your hand while drinking.

    So as a start I was really happy to find out that in my small town I had choice among seven (!) different tequilas, and I am sure that the dealer was thinking “what an …” when I asked for a different brand and he answered that he only bought from premier importers, and would not buy from someone else :(

  81. bbum says:

    Bummer. But, the truth will come if you keep asking.

    Stick with 100% blue agave as the first rule. Of the tequilas listed, the 100% blue agave ones in the list aren’t horrible. They simply won’t have the unique individual character of some of the better tequilas (like a good scotch).

    And keep asking for different products. Ask for Herradura, in particular, as Herradura sold a good sized chunk of itself to one of the world’s largest distributors a couple of years ago and, thus, there is some hope that even the “premier” importers will have it.

    I wish “premier” didn’t often mean “whatever the ignorant mass market wants”.

  82. pot says:

    All right, I bought Sauza Hornitos reposado. It is one of the most expensive, but the prices are very similar, all between 15 and 20€ per 3/4 bottle, I think there is a significant overhead because of importation only, whichever the quality. It is the only one with the sign “100% agave”. However, given the prices and the flavour (I know some of the others), I think that most of the others are 100% agave as well. Is that possible? I mean, not having it written on the label automatically means that it is not 100% blue agave as a rule?

  83. My Aching Head » Blog Archive » Roundup of Tequila says:

    […] other day, I saw a great roundup about tequila. Recently (over the last 6-12 months) I have been getting into a bit of better tequila. Mainly […]

  84. tequila cherry popped says:

    Never did the tequila thing. i pretty much have stayed away from anything that might make me feel like shit the next day. The other night I was hosting a wedding party and the brother of the bride brought a bottle of Corzo to the party, asked me to watch over it. Everytime they took a shot I took one with them. It gave me this well composed drunk that I enjoyed very much. I wasn’t sassy or being ridiculous. The next day I found myself feeling wonderful. No hangover and no regrets. Now I am online looking for good tequila brands and attempting to learn as much as I can about my new love. I was thinking of buying a bottle of this Corzo for my personal stash, but it is around $60. I assume I will be spending a good penny to get the goods as one should when dealing with alcohol. But I ask, is it worth it? or is there something better out there for that price…..

  85. The Tequila Guy says:

    Great Post!!

    Too often people throw all tequilas into the same bucket. It’s like saying you don’t like wine after drinking Mad Dog 20/20.

    This post mentions most of the brands I enjoy Corzo, Gran Centenario, Espolon, El Tesoro, Don Eduardo. However, there are also good lowland tequilas, I love Chinaco.

    I’ve listed about 500 brands with a general price category on my site at http://www.thetequilaguy.com Some have ratings and some don’t. Feel free to join and add your comments as well.

  86. What is good tequila? at Philip Bussmann says:

    […] What is good tequila? « Visual Kidnapping […]

  87. Lucky 42 says:

    Interesting article on the tequila. The only issue I have is the uniform bottling code “most” seem to follow. Stood at BevMo and stared at 50 tequila bottles and none – absolutely none jumped out at me (OK maybe one did). Why not take a little “Vodka” cool and move into this market?? What would you guys think about a tequila in a black wine bottle. Market ready to go so upscale (I think so). Would you pick up the black wine bottle of tequila? Lastly, anyone tried 3 Amigos? Wasn’t bad…

  88. legrange says:

    Legendary advice. Tequila is the sort of commodity that simply doesn’t get much exposure on this, the most southern (civilised) end of Africa. Cuervo Gold is considered “decent”, often the only brand available in bars.

    Don Julio Reposado, being pretty far up the scale in both price and quality in the market, is one of the best available here.

    Locally, a few decent limited batches have been produced here from imported Agave by privateers, but that is a total rarity.

  89. bbum says:

    I’m not surprised that Don Julio is also available, given the prevalence of Cuervo.

    Don Julio is a mostly owned — totally owned? — subsidiary brand of the world’s largest liquor distributor, Diageo, which also owns Cuervo. Thus, anywhere you’ll find Cuervo, you’ll likely also find Don Julio.

  90. juan quijas says:


  91. John says:

    I’m glad I didn’t comment on your Morel & Pork post because after reading this one I have to say I like your style. I tried tequila many years ago, Cuervo, and couldn’t see what the big deal was. Now after reading this, I see that I may have to give it another try. Only this time I’ll try the good tequila. As far as the morel & pork thing, I’ve got some dried morels in the pantry that I think have found a reason to come out. I know it won’t be as good as with fresh but it’s the only thing available right now.

  92. Convert says:

    Roasted Pumpkin seeds make an outstanding vinaigrette, as a BTW to a nice aperitif addition. Crush them in a food processor or mortar and pestle and combine them with vinegar, oil, honey, dijon mustard, shallots, and either mint or tarragon. I’d recommend using a lighter vinegar such as sherry, banyuls, or champagne as something like balsamic would be too overpowering. This would probably taste really good with Haggi’s Pumpkin and Fennel salad.

  93. The Oregringo says:

    Well, I must disagree. There is something good about Jose Cuervo gold. Twenty years ago, I used to think Jose Gold was good tequila. When I worked at Teledyne, I spent many long luch hours drinking shots of Jose’s gold. Well, that bad habit drew me to La Fiesta in Mountain View California where I discovered there were other tequilas. I quickly learned that there is no substitute for 100% agave and that Jose Cuervo is cheap rum. Si no es agave, es pi__.

    Unfortunately I moved a few years ago to Oregon where most tequila is illegal. What the State government deems appropriate for me to drink is cheap Cuervo, Margaritaville, and the like. Now I make runs south to California to buy my tequila and smuggle it back across the border. Of course I always stop in to visit Tommy (and Julio if he’s in town). I currently have about 150 bottles of tequila in my collection. Some of my favorites include: El Tesoro everything from Platinum to 70th anniversario, Esperanto silver, Buen Amigo reposado (cheap but hard to find), Asom Broso silver and Rosa, Tonola Suprema anejo, Gran Centenrio plata, Cinaco anejo, and Corazon blanco. I confess I buy too many extra anejos now but I keep going back to my favorites – every day of the week and every week of the year.

    So, here’s to Jose Cuervo gold. Without it I may never have discovered real tequila.

  94. BBum’s Guide to Tequila | The Food Geek says:

    […] know what tequila is. Or you think you do. However, BBum really does, and he’s made a post to tell you all about what tequila really is, and how it can be good. Food + geek = stuff worth […]

  95. Kim says:

    Great post! I HATE cuervo, and will never drink it. I hate it when people ask for cuervo gold – it’s all bad stuff. I only drink what my cousin brings me from Mexico. He lives there and knows what’s good, and I just drink what I like. Very informative article. Thanks for sharing. I’ll pay closer attention to what I’m drinking from now on.

  96. Whispering Angel says:

    okay, my neighboors are from Mexico, and every year they give me an EXCELLENT bottle of pure 100% agave tequila. But for that whole year I cannot find the tequila they give me Anywhere.
    (im in Connecticut, so pretty far from the border.) But with the concentration of wonderful Mexican families up here doing all our labor and concrete work, they have brought with them some great
    tequilas that I hope will start to become a main stay! Don Ramon, EL Jeminro (spelled wrong.)

  97. marco says:

    Looooove los abuelos tequila but now its call fortaleza in the us and im not sure about mexico, im selling my personal collection of fine tequilas if any one is looking for something in particular email me at mmarkoz88@gmail.com i got lil bit of everything

  98. Roland the headless Thomson Gunner says:

    I see Tequila snobbery is alive and well similar to the Scotch whisky snobbery that has been around for a long long time. I like whatever tastes good to me. If it is mid priced or inexpensive but you like it, so what? Beluga caviar is expensive but to me tastes revolting.
    I happen to work for the company who own Jose Cuervo as well as other tequila manufacturers and have tried and enjoyed many tequilas that they market. Even better, I get them for great prices in the company shop. Living here in Scotland I don’t get the chance to try many tequilas, I have to wait till I go on vacation to Florida to do that. And I have my share of Margaritaville tequilas when there as well as the Patron and Gran Centenarios. By all means, try whatever you can get your hands on, but remember, it is all about personal choice and taste. And believe it or not, I don’t like whisky.

  99. bbum says:

    Funny how “knowledge” and “snobbery” can be mistaken for each other.

    Drink what you like, certainly. No, really — drink whatever you want.

    Cuervo owns something like 90% of the North American tequila market and almost all of what they sell is, by the standards of tequila making, a completely crap product. If it is not a Cuervo 100% blue agave product, it will be 51% blue agave tequila made as efficiently as possible, flavor be damned, and 49% cane sugar alcohol made as cheaply as possible. The color is entirely an additive and there are flavor additives used to cover the rather awful flavors that are a product of the manufacturing process.

    Cuervo is an extremely efficient marketing agency more than a purveyor of traditionally crafted tequilas. The methods of manufacture that Cuervo employes are optimized to efficiency and, thus, yield a very different product than some of the less efficient and more traditional means of manufacture. This additional efficiency means that a number of additional compounds– not all good for the resulting product– are extracted earlier in the process (roasting & musto extraction, for example) and this must be compensated for later in the process.

    Nothing wrong with that. Just don’t drink it in ignorance. To claim the Cuervo is making the same product as their neighbors in Tequila would be a denial of reality.

    None of that is to say that Cuervo doesn’t make some really just flat out amazing products. They do; the Reserva product has been absolutely fantastic in years gone by (I haven’t tasted recent product), but you’ll pay a lot for it and, by the results of various blind tasting based rating systems, some of that cost is due to the brand, not the contents of the bottle. Depending on the product, they are also made using a distinctly different process– often much more traditional in nature specifically because Cuervo has decided that is the best way to achieve a higher quality product; a product that they can sell at a higher price.

    In any case, some of my favorite tequilas are pretty damned cheap; much less expensive than anything Patron makes and leaps and bounds better quality product. Better flavor? Personal choice, sure.

    However, the contents of my liquor cabinet certainly don’t reflect anything akin to price snobbery! Snobbery through education? Maybe. But that’s OK by me!

  100. Roland the headless Thomson Gunner says:

    I take your point about knowledge and snobbery on board. I would however like you to tell me the names of your “pretty damn cheap” tequilas so I can look out for and try them when I am over in Florida on vacation later in the year.
    We have the Reserva tequila in the Diageo company shop, but it is still around $100. And in my book, blood is the only liquid worth that much. Thank you for your reply though. Regards, Ronnie

  101. bbum says:

    Sure; I usually look for whatever happens to be on special that is decent.

    At the moment, I’m finding Corralejo Repo for $24, Gran Centenario Anejo for $35, and had been grabbing 950ml packs of Pueblo Viejo for $22. Of the three, the Gran Centenario is the only one good to sip. They all make great margaritas.

    Generally, I can find Herradura for pretty decent prices, too.

    For sipping tequilas, I’ll go for El Tesoro, Arette, Partida, old Centinela 3 year (newer stuff isn’t very good by comparison), Espolon, Tapatio, and, if I’m really feeling the treat, La Fortaleza (more expensive but, oh so amazingly fine).

    Those typically range from about $32 to about $80, depending on whether I grab a blanco, reposado, anejo, or extra anejo. I typically go for reposados for sipping as I like the balance between the vegetal nature of a young tequila combined with just a touch of wood from aging.

    I need to make another run to the local shops to see what is what.

  102. Colleen says:

    Thanks for the info Bill, I am heading to cancun on june 13, 2009, I like to shot tequila but dont like or want a bite…or gag…what would your recommedation be for a lady?? cheers

  103. bbum says:

    Yes. Don’t shoot it. Good tequila should be sipped; shooting it is just a waste.

    If you want to drink it in volume, couple it with a fruit juice or with Fresca (common in Mexico) and drink it as a cocktail. For that, any decent 100% blue agave will do. Herradura Reposado is a good start.

  104. Nelson says:

    My younger self abused the crappy mixto stuff and I ended up not wanting to be seen anywhere near that for many years. But last year, I went to Cancun for the first time ever and I ended up tasting some pretty good tequila. I brought back with me a bottle of « Con alma de mujer » reposado. Since then, I tried two other tequilas : Herradura reposado and Lejenda del Milagro reposado. I have to say that it has been a very pleasant experience to experienced tequila again after so many years. The thing is that it was not the tequila I had the « privilege » of drinking in the past. It was a totally new experience and I’m now hooked, as I am with scotch (but that’s another story…)

    Anyway, the only really sad thing about this is that I’m living in Canada, in the province of Québec and it’s really hard, nigh impossible, to find good tequila. I think its a shame that good tequila is so hard to come by in the Great White North.

  105. Tequila – Phatness.com says:

    […] http://www.friday.com/bbum/2008/06/19/what-is-good-tequila/ […]

  106. Marco says:

    Viva Tequila!

  107. Sean says:

    Wow, whenever i stumble upon this kind of article i’m always reminded of all the misinformation there is on the internet. I just about spat when i read this section, “This ultra-nasty combination of cheap cane sugar alcohol and low quality agave distillate is the reason for the vicious hangover. Those massive nasty sugar molecules break down into all sorts of evils that take your body a long time to metabolize.”

    The first step to making liquor is to make beer. You then “nearly” boil that beer to make some of the chemicals in the beer evaporate, which is then recondensed to make hard liquor. Depending on many conditions and variables, different chemicals are released in said process. Some of those chemicals are very poisonous and some give you a wicked hangover. Believe it or not, the alcohol is the least of your concerns when it comes to cheap liquor. These guys allow “nasty” stuff to reside in their product, while other producers work hard to keep those chemicals out of the bottle. In fact, many of those high quality distillers use what is in other products to clean their floors!

    The quantity of agave matters only slightly, its the quality of distallation process. Long sugar molecules…LOL!

    [Sean is right about the sugar molecule thing — it isn’t that, it is the other adultrants and impurities in crap quality product. Industry mythos scrubbed.]

  108. What is Good Tequila? | danapalooza says:

    […] years in the making”, a short, concise guide to quality tequila. via Daring […]

Leave a Reply

Line and paragraph breaks automatic.
XHTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>