As agave spirits continue to flourish all over the world, it’s easy to imagine a sea of people in Mexico drinking top tier tequilas that never make it out of the country. But in reality, it’s a much less romantic picture, with many of the same big brand names pulling most of the weight at home as abroad. Much like in the United States, those looking for something a cut above the rest opt for bottles from smaller producers, while those looking to simply raise a glass in celebration choose from the usual suspects.
These large brands have the upper hand when it comes to visibility and marketing dollars, making them an easy choice for the masses. And, on top of the power of ads, the sway of tradition is strong in Mexican communities. People like the idea of drinking what their parents and grandparents drank, but this can be trickier than anticipated. The juice inside all of these bottles can vary from year to year, and what was once a quality driven brand may have fallen into the hands of people who prioritize a bottom line more than a great product. But the tradition stays alive, regardless of what’s in the bottle.
While it may come as a surprise to some, the list of top selling brands in Mexico is mostly (but not completely) familiar. Here are the top seven tequilas sipped in Mexico:
Made from 100% blue agave and hailing from the highlands of Jalisco, this is considered a prime example of traditional tequila. In addition to being the number one seller in Mexico, it is also ranked as one of the top 10 best tequilas among Mexican consumers. Sold for the equivalent of $35 per bottle, it is loved for it’s value all over Mexico.
This mixto is made with 51% agave, and is recommended for mixed drinks or as an inexpensive party staple. The short, rounded bottle speaks to the traditional shape of older tequila bottles, nodding to the great legacy of the spirit. A bottle sells for around $20.
You’ll probably recognize this bottle from your own local liquor store shelves. Made from 100% agave, this Jalisco-based brand prides themselves on a unique production method: Distillers use fresh pressed agave juice that is then cooked in order to preserve freshness of flavor. Each bottle costs around $20.
Another 100% agave tequila (and another familiar face), the brand is named for the person who harvests the agave hearts from the ground, one of the most difficult aspects of production. A mainstay on the list of top five best selling tequilas in Mexico, it is a brand that many Mexicans identify with and adopt as a sort of familial pride. Bottles can be found for just under $20.
This iconic beverage is just as popular in Mexico as it is in the United States, symbolizing a party in a bottle. Made from 100% agave, it is mainly used for shots and mixed drinks, and served icy cold. Bottles are priced around $25.
The main difference between this and the Tradicional is that this is a mixto, made from 51% agave. It is straight up party fuel, and also meant to be enjoyed in mixed drinks or as a chilled shot, rather than a contemplative sipper. Most bottles cost under $20.
Made from 100% blue agave, all of Gran Centenario’s tequilas spend some time in oak—even the blanco—for a signature touch meant to impart a smooth texture and an air of sophistication. The bottle’s design references the golden coin used to commemorate 100 years of Mexican Independance. Bottles are sold for around $30.