Tequilas Under $30 a Bottle
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Tequilas Under $30 a Bottle
Tinpixels/istockphoto

Spirit of the Agave

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 bold Mexican liquor has gained recognition for its unique flavor and complexity, and top-tier bottles of tequila can cost easily hundreds of dollars. Frugal shoppers can find a wide range of delicious 100% agave tequila for less than $30, though. We reviewed recent and past results of the respected Ultimate Beverage Challenge and cross-checked with consumer reviews on several sites to find the inexpensive best of the best in three categories: blanco, reposado, and añejo. 

Prices and availability are subject to change.

Related: 20 Best Whiskeys Under $50

Margarita
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Tequila Appreciation Society

Anyone reading this is likely to be a tequila fan — but do you know how it's made and its history? Let's take a moment to appreciate this previously reviled spirit. 

Tequila is made from a cultivated breed of Agave tequilanacalled "Weber Blue," which is harvested, steamed — a process that is also sometimes called roasted — in an oven or underground pit as part of the production process before fermentation, distillation, aging and bottling. This has been going on in one form or another, to produce both tequila and mezcal, for hundreds of years, and this particular agave variety can only be found around Jalisco, Mexico.  

Ride the Tequila Express Train
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From Reviled to Exceptional

It wasn't until about 10 years ago, though, that tequila had a reputation as a covetable liquor. As author Amy Stewart noted in her book, "The Drunken Botanist," at one time tequila was considered a "rough product that in no way compared to a good Scotch or Cognac." A 1897 Scientific American article even likened it to a taste "said to incite murder, riot and revolution."

How time has changed. Americans are now in the know about how exceptional tequila can truly be, and not just on Cinco de Mayo but all year-round. In 2017, retail sales of tequila bottles — from budget to top shelf — exceeded $9 billion, with Californians, Texans, and Floridians drinking the most. Part of the allure is that it's a very versatile spirit: Enthusiasts can mix it in cocktails, blend it into a margarita, sip it straight, or get right down to business and take a shot of it. 

So, let's raise a toast to tequila — lime and salt optional — and find out more about which bottles you should think about buying on your next trip to the liquor store. 

Related: 20 Exceptional Splurge-Worthy Tequilas

Blanco Tequila
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Blanco Tequila

Called blanco (white) or plata (silver), unaged tequila is clear in appearance. By law, these tequilas are bottled within two months of production. Blanco or plata tequilas feature fresh agave flavors such as a crisp grassiness, tropical fruit, pepper, and minerals.

3 Amigos Blanco
Courtesy of 3amigostequila.com

3 Amigos Blanco

Price: $25 | Buy it on Total Wine
This modestly priced blanco tequila offers a lot of bang for the buck, with spicy pepper elements and herbs interwoven with a refined roasted pineapple core, creating a drink with considerable complexity for well under $30.

Pueblo Viejo Blanco
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Pueblo Viejo Blanco

Price: $20 | Buy it on Astor Wines
This all-star bottle does well throughout competitions featuring tequilas and consumer sites. It is a cheap, workhorse blanco tequila that is good whether you're shooting, sipping, or mixing. The clean crisp agave flavors are light and grassy, with a hint of jalapeño pepper spice on the finish.

Lunazul Blanco
Courtesy of lunazultequila.com

Lunazul Blanco

Price: $16.50 | Buy it on Total Wine
Looking for a new silver tequila to add to your liquor cabinet that easily beats some well-known tequilas going for two or three times the price. Here's one with a silken texture that 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 a mixed drink or drinking straight.

Azteca Azul Plata
Courtesy of Astor Wines

Azteca Azul Blanco

Price: $22 | Buy it on Astor Wines
Used in the wells of high-end cocktail bars across the country, this crisp blanco tequila is a star. With a strong reputation and consumer reviews to back it up, the bottle is a good yet cheap all-purpose silver spirit. The flavors taste of agave forwardness, with notes of citrus, green chili, and pineapple core.

Related: 12 Low-Cost Tequila Cocktails to Celebrate Cinco de Mayo

Olmeca Altos Plata
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Olmeca Altos Plata

Price: $21 | 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. Add it to your list of new tequilas to try. 

Tres Agaves Blanco
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Tres Agaves Blanco

Price: $21 | Buy it on Total Wine
A favorite among consumers and professionals, this lowland blanco tequila is particularly aromatic, full of figs, green grass, and peppery spice, with layers of taste that continue to unfold as you drink. Definitely a sipper.

El Mayor Blanco
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El Mayor Blanco

Price: $22 | Buy it on Total Wine
This silver tequila over performs given its cheap price. Reviewers agree the flavors here are classic and appealing. The traditional spirit has a lightly creamy texture and flavor that adds to its tropical undertones. Mix it into a cocktail for a hint of pepperiness. 

Reposado Tequila
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Reposado Tequila

Tequila that is matured in wood casks for a moderate amount of time — 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.

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Lunazul Reposado
Courtesy of lunazultequila.com

Lunazul Reposado

Price: $16 | 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 taste characteristics that make it appealing as an after-dinner sipper.

Familia Camarena Reposado
Courtesy of Familia Camarena Tequila

Familia Camarena Reposado

Price: $27 | Buy it from BevMo
The famed Camarena family produces outstanding tequilas. With this bottling, it offers a high-quality product that's spicy and laced with cinnamon and herbs around an agave core. The price might be slightly north of cheap, but it's well worth it. 

Olmeca Altos Reposado
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Olmeca Altos Reposado

Price: $20 | Buy it on Total Wine
One of the best brands throughout the categories, this reposado is silky and refined, with just right notes of deeply roasted coffee and a playful green grassy flavor that adds brightness. It's a favorite among bartenders to mix into cocktails, thanks to its earthy tone.

El Jimador Reposado
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El Jimador Reposado

Price: $18 | Buy it on Total Wine
Jimador 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. Jimador puts batches in American oak barrels, where it is rested before bottling it. It's a good choice for mixing into cocktails.

Exotico Reposado
Courtesy of exoticotequila.com

Exotico Reposado

Price: $17 | Buy it from BevMo
This tequila is one of the best values on the market. What makes the Exotico good is a kiss of wood flavor from the aging, though the baked agave flavor is preserved with plenty of fruity and herbal characteristics. Exotico has made some exceptional, award-winning tequilas, including plenty in the reposado category. 

Añejo Tequila
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Añejo Tequila

Liquor enthusiasts know that the longer in the barrel, the deeper and richer the flavor. 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 as a mix in premium cocktails.

El Jimador Añejo
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El Jimador Añejo

Price: $23 | Buy it on Total Wine
The most popular aged tequila in Mexico stands up against some of the most expensive alternatives. It has a rich flavor profile offering ripe fruit, dark earthy moss, and sweet baking spices, with a touch of vanilla on the finish.

Lunazul Añejo
Courtesy of lunazultequila.com

Lunazul Añejo

Price: $20 | Buy it on Total Wine
Professionals love this smoky aged tequila, but the flavor can be polarizing, with lots of leathery and spicy elements, leaning toward rustic and woodsy rather than cinnamon and caramel.

Hornitos Black Barrel Añejo
Courtesy of hornitostequila.com

Hornitos Black Barrel Añejo

Price: $28 | Buy it on Yankee Spirits
Making tequila for 146 years, the brand that produces this spirit, Sauze, is no new kid on the block. 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 but also just right, with elements of cigar tobacco, bourbon-like charred grain, and orangy citrus.

Espolon Anejo Tequila
Courtesy of espolontequila.com

Espolón Añejo

Price: $27 | Buy it on Total Wine

Founded in 1998, Espolón is one of the newer tequila companies around, but it doesn't mean they haven't figured out how to make a good añejo. Aged in white oak barrels for 12 months, this earthy, golden Espolón spirit has hints of agave, vanilla, and butterscotch.

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