The market for tequila is more interesting and diverse than ever. Prices of agave spirits have shot up in the past few years as the spicy Mexican spirit has gained recognition for its unique flavor and complexity, and top-tier bottles can cost easily hundreds of dollars. Frugal shoppers can find delicious 100 percent agave tequila for less than $30, though. We reviewed the results of the respected Ultimate Beverage Challenge and cross-checked with consumer reviews on several sites to find inexpensive winners in three categories: blanco, reposado, and añejo.
Called blanco (white) or plata (silver), unaged tequila is clear in appearance. By law, these tequilas are bottled within two months of production. Blanco tequilas feature fresh agave flavors such as fresh grass, tropical fruit, pepper, and minerals.
Price: $16.50 | Buy it on Total Wine
This bottle easily beats some well-known competitors going for two or three times the price. Its silken texture offers flavors of ripe tropical fruit, with clean minerality that finishes dry. At such an affordable price, this bottle serves as an all-purpose blanco tequila for mixing or drinking straight.
Price: $20 | Buy it on Astor Wines
Used in the wells of high-end cocktails bars across the country, this crisp blanco tequila is a star. With a strong reputations and consumer reviews to back it up, the bottle is a good all-purpose spirit. The flavors are agave forward, with notes of citrus, green chili, and pineapple core.
Price: $25 | Buy it on Total Wine
This traditionally produced blanco is a strong contender for little money. A lower alcohol content means smooth sipping for this highland tequila. Flavors are sweet and salty, combining mango, lime, and a peppery piquancy that makes it excellent on its own or in cocktails.
Price: $30 | Buy it on Astor Wines
This agave-forward spirit has become one of the industry standards for inexpensive but high-quality tequila. The flavors lean to the floral side, with subtle vegetal notes of sweet grass and baked pineapple coming through. It is ideal for sipping or mixing.
Tequila that is matured in wood casks for between two and 11 months is referred to as reposado (rested). These lightly aged spirits take on a natural golden hue and enhanced flavor from the wood, which is most commonly oak. Known for their light caramel and vanilla notes, these soft and rounded tequilas are good on their own and in cocktails.
Price: $17 | Buy it on Total Wine
Another gem from the Lunazul label is its lightly aged reposado. Professionals are hot on this bottle, which is on the sweeter side, with cinnamon, vanilla, and baked custard flavors giving way to some darker burnt sugar characteristics that make it appealing as an after-dinner sipper.
Price: $15 | Buy it on Total Wine
This is a strong contender in the reposado category, with bright tropical fruits, slight charred pineapple, and a touch of jalapeño spice on the finish making this lighter option particularly refreshing. It's a good choice for mixing into cocktails.
Añejo (aged) tequila spends 12 to 35 months in wood casks. These spirits take on more color and flavor from the wood, resulting in a deep amber color. Soft flavors and aromas of tobacco and baking spices contribute significantly to the overall flavor profile. Añejos are often enjoyed as sipping spirits but can also be used in premium cocktails.
Price: $28 | Buy it on Yankee Spirits
This añejo gets special treatment, spending its last 12 months in charred barrels, giving it a flavor bourbon lovers will appreciate. The flavors are intense, with elements of cigar tobacco, bourbon-like charred grain, and orangy citrus.