Añejo tequila is like the bourbon of the agave world: Both spirits get their distinct, cozy, baking spice flavors from the barrels in which they’re aged. To qualify as an añejo, a tequila must be aged for a minimum of one year in oak barrels. Bolder and richer than blanco or reposado tequilas, añejos are defined by their amber hue and dessert-like caramelized flavor, and they are most commonly sipped neat rather than mixed into cocktails. To get you started on your añejo journey, here are nine bottles to try now.
Corralejo Añejo Tequila ($40)
Produced in the state of Guanajuato, this añejo tequila is rested in charred American oak for one year before being bottled. Exceptionally smooth, it is mellow and chocolatey with flavors of malt, vanilla, candied oranges and charred oak (much like bourbon). This is a slow sipper with a creamy, lasting finish that is meant to be enjoyed neat.
This bottling manages to retain the pepperiness and raw agave flavor of a younger tequila, while gaining richness and creaminess from its time spent in oak. It’s double distilled in copper pot stills and aged in ex-bourbon barrels for 18 months. Beyond its white pepper heat on the finish, it has notes of cinnamon, clove, vanilla, buckwheat honey, raw cacao and roasted chiles. Truly delicious stuff.
Made at the Casa San Matías distillery, one of the oldest in Mexico, this añejo was created to commemorate 120 years of tequila production (orgullo translates to pride in English). Despite the fact that it is labeled as an añejo, it is technically an extra añejo due to the fact that it is barrel aged for a total of 24 months (in both American and French oak). It is as rich as any dessert, with notes of chocolate pudding, sweetened condensed milk, roasted chile peppers, sesame and cinnamon. On the finish, flavors of raw cacao and honey intermingle with stewed agave and a subtle white pepper heat. This bottle has the taste of luxury tequilas twice the price.
Aged for up to 36 months in new French Limousin oak barrels, which are traditionally used for Cognac, this tequila has an unparalleled richness. With a bright fruitiness akin to lighter Cognacs, it is sweet and honeyed with notes of tangerines, toasted coconut and clove. Exceptionally smooth and easy to drink, it would be a shame to drink this tequila any way other than neat.
Unlike all other tequilas on this list, this bottling is produced in the Mexican state of Tamaulipas. Produced with local agave from Tamaulipas and blue Weber agave from Jalisco, the Chinaco Añejo is aged for two and half years in both Glenlivet single malt and ex-bourbon casks. It has flavors of raw agave, roasted poblano peppers, honeycomb, white pepper, cinnamon and citrus. While the finish is quick and hot, there’s a subtle creaminess from its time spent in oak. While you can sip this spirit straight, it is light enough to use in place of a blanco tequila in cocktails.
Another stellar bottling from the Casamigos family of spirits, this release delivers deliciousness in spades. Produced from agave plants grown in the mineral rich soil of the Highlands, this tequila is aged in reconditioned whiskey barrels for 14 months before being bottled. Almost single malt whiskey-esque on the palate, it has notes of roasted pineapple, wet stone, pipe tobacco, leather, vanilla and a faint whisper of smoke. A complex and nuanced tequila that will please even the staunchest whisky snob.
Made almost like a mezcal—but without the pit roasting that creates smokiness—this Lowlands tequila is made from blue Weber agave that’s been roasted in traditional stone ovens, crushed on a traditional tahona and fermented in open air wood tanks using natural yeast. Double distilled in a copper pot, it’s aged for 18 months in American oak. More rustic than most tequilas (añejo or otherwise) it has notes of roasted hazelnuts, nutmeg, bread pudding with raisins, orange pith, toffee and caramel. A superb slow sipper, this is as rich and decadent as tequila gets.
Aged in French white oak barrels that once held Napa Cabernet, this tequila retains some of the wine’s taste and aromas. With an almost sherry-esque brininess and nutiness, it has notes of buttered popcorn, caramel, sea salt, stewed pineapple, rice pudding and cinnamon. This is a tequila for tequila fans who are looking for something different and unlike anything that they’ve tried before.
Not to be confused with Tequila Ocho’s Single Estate Añejo bottling, this rare, extremely limited release is from a single barrel of tequila. Drinking this añejo, which is bottled at barrel strength, is as close as you can get to taking a sip straight from a barrel at the distillery. Aged for a year in ex-bourbon barrels, it has notes of cereal, candied citrus, fresh peaches, brown butter, mole poblano, sea salt and toffee. Even if it wasn’t rare or expensive, this tequila would still be meant to be savored and enjoyed only on special occasions.