The first defining moment in many people’s tequila timelines often involves a shot glass, a lime wedge and salt. While the classic shooter is a fine way to dive gullet-first into the agave spirit, real tequila lovers know that the spirit is best served in a rocks glass—neat.
As more and more tequila brands make their way into the U.S., it’s becoming a heck of alot easier to find good sipping tequila, ranging from the young and spicy blanco tequilas to the rich, matured añejos. Here are five readily available bottles that will make your taste buds sing.
If you’re a fan of the super crisp and peppery unaged tequilas, you’ll swoon for this blanco. It’s not all bite, though. The blue agave’s natural sweetness shines through, and the tequila also has a floral quality that many other blancos lack.
Aged for eight months in white oak barrels, this reposado tequila from Siete Lequas is silky on the palate and super-sippable neat or over ice. While it retains some of the punch of an unaged tequila, its time spent in the oak creates more baking spice and caramel flavors.
This reposado spends four months in ex-bourbon casks before bottling, so whiskey lovers may taste some familiar honey and caramel notes as they drink. But it also has a kick of spice in the form of both black pepper and chilis, which give it a well-rounded complexity.
This two-year-old tequila has the same toffee hue as a fine whiskey—and just as much complexity. You’ll be welcomed with toasted nuts, citrus and crisp fruit, and there is little to no bite on the finish—a good option for those who prefer their tequilas with moderate spice.
Once you’re feeling confident in your tequila know-how, set your sights on this super-aged agave masterpiece. Though the price tag is steeper than many other bottlings, you’ll know why once you get a taste. After spending five years in French white oak barrels, this rich tequila emerges with complex warming flavors of vanilla and cocoa that are balanced with oak, pepper and vegetal agave.