Ahh, tequila. The harbinger of a wild night on the town, a roaring house party or, these days at least, an evening of refined sipping. If perhaps you did a double-take, rest assured that there’s expensive tequila out there, the kind that puts well (or cheap) tequila to shame. It’s more than likely your first tequila experience was perhaps unpleasant – or at least, unpleasant the very next day.
These days, expensive tequila deserves its rightful place in the pantheon of refined spirits, and that shouldn’t come as a surprise at all. Tequila is a bold way to keep your palette guessing, especially once you step things up a notch from your standard-fare, bargain-oriented tequila (yes, we remember that cheap fifth you brought to that college house party). It’s time to move forward in the world, and expensive tequila is but one way to show you’ve arrived (or at least, it’s a worthwhile splurge or wish list addition).
The right accessories, the right outfit, a wonderful tequila, good company… that sounds like the good life, period.
Exploring the world of tequila is a little bit like exploring other culinary pursuits, or learning more about the world of menswear. The more you know, the easier (and more fun) it becomes to shop, to sample and to try your hand at a new sipping spirit, a new cocktail, a new recipe. And a great tequila just goes well with the finer things in life.
Let’s set the scene: Say you’re out on the town, dressed to the nines and wearing your favorite pair of dress boots and an ultra-refined, luxury dress watch. The accessories are on point, and hopefully, the rest of your ensemble is, too. What truly goes with a super-sharp, tailored outfit? In a word, only the best will do. Instead of cognac or Scotch, consider an expensive tequila, the kind to be sipped on and savored, perhaps at the end of a meal or alongside a dish that perfectly compliments said tequila.
The right accessories, the right outfit, a wonderful tequila, good company… that sounds like the good life, period. So go on, give a proper tequila a shot (not literally, though). Cheap tequila brands will always be there if it’s debauchery you seek, but if it’s an unexpected, elegant and enjoyable drinking experience you’d like, then we’re here to help.
Don’t let the idea of spending hundreds of dollars scare you away – it’s a process, and it takes time to reach that level.
So if buying, say, the most expensive tequila on the planet isn’t quite within your budget, we’d say you can choose this guide as a sort of road map towards discovering other similar, yet more reasonably priced, tequila varieties. But let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves. New to the wide world of tequila? First, a bit of a refresher on what exactly this stuff is made of, and then we’ll move ahead with how to enjoy it and how to add it to your bar cart (whether it’s a real bar cart or the bar cart of your dreams is entirely up to you).
What Is Tequila, Exactly?
- It’s all in the plant: Tequila comes from agave plants, and like champagne or cognac (both of which must be produced in those ultra-specific regions bearing the name of the spirit), it’s also bound by law and regionality. Tequila can only be produced in Jalisco, but four other Mexican states (or specific parts of those states – regionality at work!) also qualify.
- It’s all about location: Within this narrow subset of laws and locations is where truly great tequila is born (and that goes for the less-than-stellar stuff you enjoyed back in the day, too). Expensive tequila is all about process and preparation, just as with cheap versus next-level beer, vodka… you name it, and there are certain steps that lift a tequila from good to great, from just average to expensive.
- It’s all about fermentation: Just as adding different levels of hops to a beer produces a different finished product, it’s the ingredients that define and help craft an expensive tequila. The best stuff is made from 100 percent blue agave, and to keep it simple, different fermentation times give you different varieties (for example, blanco tequila is fermented for a short period of time, about or less than two months).
On the other end of the scale, there are expensive tequilas like Extra Añejo, which is aged at least three years — that’s what you want to look for in an expensive tequila.
Añejo tequila (a step down from Extra Añejo) is aged much longer than blanco tequila as well. Besides that, cheap tequilas are made with additives and sugars, hence the notorious day-after headache. That shouldn’t be the case with expensive tequilas, though. That’s an understatement.
Now that we’ve got the basics down pat, it’s more than time to set your sights high – way up high, to the top shelf and beyond as you look for exceptional types of tequila to enjoy for days, weeks, months, even years on end.
The Best Expensive Tequila to Buy Now
Chinaco Negro Extra Añejo Tequila
Let’s ease on into things, relatively speaking, with a tequila that’s pricier than average (about $245), but not astronomically expensive. Chinaco Negro hits the sweet spot as far as an introductory expensive Extra Añejo tequila is concerned. There’s quite a lot going on here with the flavor profile of this extraordinary tequila, with a rich golden amber color and aroma notes that lean heavily toward vanilla and apple. It’s been described as spicy, smoky and even luscious, which is a far cry from throwback tequila of days gone by. And if you were expecting an option or two with a price point far above this option? We’ll get there, not to worry.
Cincoro Extra Añejo Tequila
Now that’s more like it (this tequila rings up at $1,799). Cincoro is exactly what you’d expect from a tequila brand owned in part by Michael Jordan himself (and four other NBA owners, at that). Expensive tequila needs to bring a lot to your bar cart, from remarkable flavor to memorable intensity (in a good way) to a very pleasant drinking experience. It’s the use of former bourbon barrels that impart this tequila with its luxurious quality, and the price tag to match. The aging process ranges from 40 to 44 months (that’s nearly four years at the most, for those keeping score at home). We’ll let Cincoro, experts in fine tequila, take it from here the rest of the way: This extra añejo features “subtle notes of wood, spices, and light cooked agave on the nose followed by intense oak, sweet agave, caramel, and light vanilla on the palate”
Clase Azul Extra
The world of tequila, like the world of fine Scotch or bourbon, requires an eye for what’s “hot” and what’s “not,” and a sensibility to determine when it’s worth splurging or saving. For our money’s worth (this tequila costs a pretty penny – try nearly two grand), Clase Azul Extra is worthy of closer examination. It’s truly a collector’s tequila, aged five years in Spanish sherry barrels. If you’ve tried Scotch aged in sherry, you know the process imparts a fruity, yet subtle richness and exceptional depth. The same should prove true here, with notes of cinnamon, ginger and prune. The real finishing touch here might be the handmade decanter, detailed with precious stones including pure platinum and an astounding 24-karat gold label.
Del Porto Extra Añejo Aged in Port Wine Barrels
Port wine is a curious after-dinner drink in its own right, with sweet booziness that few others like it can match. So when port wine barrels are used in an extensive and carefully curated aging process with agave, we’re more than curious about the finished product, to say the very least. Del Porto says this Añejo, for what its worth, is the first of its kind and hails from the personal collection of Ricardo Gamarra. Port wine barrels by way of Portugal provide a varied taste, the kind that keeps you guessing. Del Porto says its take on the Extra Añejo is “oaky with floral undertones, while the mid-palate gives way to a toffee with a sweet port.” If that sounds unlike any tequila you’ve tried to date, you’re not alone.
Kah Extra Añejo Aged Tequila
An aging process that tops out at about four-and-a-half years is going to yield some pretty remarkable results if you want incredible flavor, aroma and even texture from your tequila. As we’ve said before, the best expensive tequila isn’t your average, everyday sipper, and nor should it be (again, we’re not ripping shots at the college bar, after all). White American Oak barrels give this tequila a little something special, as it were. And to hear Kah tell it themselves, that’s just part of what makes this spirit so enviable (and expensive). Kah says that the bottle itself features “over 700 Swarovski crystals and was inspired by the royal Mayan burial rituals of its royal court.” It’s going to blow away even the most tequila-savvy guests when they find it in your bar cart, and sipping on this tequila will only wow them even further.