If you love tequila, this is the list for you. Choosing the best tequila brand for shots might be tricky since more than a thousand registered brands are on the market today.
But before we go into the list, let's have an unofficial discussion on what makes a perfect tequila shot. It should be your go-to spirit. The one you always come back to regardless of the event or situation. Of course, we know it's difficult to have just one shot of tequila that you can depend on for every situation. The good news is, you might discover a fave amongst some of the best tequila for shots on our list.
This tequila guide will go over what makes a tequila a tequila and some fundamental terminology. Apart from the amazing tequila, you'll stock from this list, get ready to impress yourself and your visitors with your tequila expertise.
What Is Tequila?
This crowd favorite was first produced in the 16th century near Tequila, Jalisco. It has since earned the hearts of millions of people worldwide. It's distilled from the Weber blue agave plant and is a popular drink for shorts or in mixed cocktails like The Margarita, Paloma, and the Tequila Sunrise. The Tequila is Mexico’s pride and joy, and their laws dictate what is and is not tequila:
- Only the blue agave plant can be used to distill tequila.
- Only Jalisco and selected municipalities in Guanajuato, Michoacán, Nayarit, and Tamaulipas are permitted to make tequila.
*These laws are agreed to by more than 40 countries through trade deals.
What is tequila made from?
This spirit is prepared by distilling the juices of agave plants. Agave juice is aged, distilled, and then diluted to make a tequila that may be sold in liquor stores.
Tequila is required by law to include at least 51% Weber blue agave. Reposado and Anejo tequilas mature in oak barrels for a few months to many years. Although Blanco (or silver) tequila has not been matured, it can rest in stainless steel for up to two months before being bottled again. Meanwhile, color and flavor may only be added to gold (or joven) tequila.
About Tequila Age
The maturation length and agave used to make tequila determines its type. Each type has a unique flavor, aroma, and value.
Blanco: These tequilas are often known as Plato (silver) tequilas. These tequilas are either bottled shortly after distillation or aged for up to 60 days in French or American oak barrels. Its flavors and aromas can be herbaceous, flowery, citrusy, and even a little fruity. Poblano and green pepper vegetal notes might be dominant.
Resposado: Reposado means "rested". These tequilas are aged in oak barrels for 2 months to a year. Their hue is generally amber-toned, while the flavors are bolder, less herbaceous, and with undertones of vanilla, butter, and brown sugar.
Anejos: Anejos, or “aged” tequila, is aged 1 to 3 years. This extensive aging in wood results in deeper and more golden hues. Expect a smoother tequila with spice, earth, smoke, vanilla, caramel, and peat flavors. In general, Anejos are more costly than reposados.
Extra Anejos: These are Anejos that are aged in wood for three years or longer. They are also the most expensive. Because of the long aging process, the taste is stronger, very woody with hints of burnt caramel. It's best to take your time and sip this variety of tequila to appreciate the artistry that's gone into it. This will also help you to really appreci,ate its flavors and aroma.
Truth is, taking a shot of any beverage is OK, but some are just better than others, like a bottle of Anejo tequila manufactured from 100 percent agave.
Now, drinking cheaper tequila is a different experience. You’d be able to consume as much as you like without feeling guilty about it. However, these are typically just 51% agave and loaded with sugar cane juice. These are also the ones that sting and have a strong taste of alcohol. As a result, these are more suited for shots rather than sipping.
With a larger budget, you'd have more freedom and could discover smoother, better-tasting tequila without the burn. We've made sure to include bottles on our list that are affordable yet still delicious.
The El Espelòn Blanco tequila is made using the finest blue agave up in the Highlands region of Mexico. After an aging process of almost ten years, the agave is patiently selected and hand-picked to make this super-premium tequila.
The taste is fruity, with agave notes, owers, lemon zest, white pepper, and tropical fruits. The aftertaste offers a soft oily mouthfeel with agave, vanilla, and pineapple flavors.
This distinctive Blanco tequila is set apart from other tequilas by its pure flavors and simple, fruit-forward taste. This delicious tequila will give you a great shot of energy and make you the life of any party. For those who want high-quality taste and value for money, go for Espelon.
Tequila Los Azulejos, whose name means "glazed" or "polished" in Spanish, is made from 100% agave and bottled to maintain the spirit's freshness and brilliance during the second distillation process. Los Azulejos Tequila Silver is presented in a stunning bottle crafted from hand-blown artisan glass that highlights the color and vibrancy of this exquisite Tequila.
This silvery tequila has a strong agave taste with hints of pepper, fragrant herbs, and sour-sweet overtones that appear to favor minerality from the moment it enters the mouth. Natural agave and clear flavors dominate the palate. The lack of roast allows smoothness and softness to take over your senses.
Casamigos Blanco is a tasty tequila that’s smooth and doesn't burn your tongue or throat on the way down, making it an excellent choice for shots with your favorite people.
This delectable liquor is made from 100 percent blue agave and has a clear color and smooth taste that’s as comfortable as your go-to pair of jeans. It will take you straight to happy hour minus the hangover.
This is one of the most popular tequilas out there, and you can get it right here at The Bottle Haus. If you don’t know yet, it was founded by George Clooney and Rande Gerber. The idea came to them when they built their vacation homes and sampled tequila in the process. Its name comes from the Spanish words for “house” and “friends.” Their ultimate goal was something that tasted fantastic but didn't burn. They succeeded and you need to try it!
One taste and it’s easy to see why Patron tequila is the best-selling tequila in the United States. This premium spirit is carefully blended using Blue Weber Agave from Jalisco, Mexico, considered by many to be the finest tasting and highest quality of all agave plants. Their unique bottling process also ensures that the Patron is given maximum protection while preserving and enhancing its taste. As a result, Patron’s taste and aroma are most evident in each unforgettable sip.
Clear, smooth, and light as air, Patron Silver is crystal clear, with a straightforward all-agave flavor that you won’t need to disguise with a slice of lemon or salt. Try it alone or party it up with friends, you won’t regret this one.
Winner of numerous gold medals, Don Julio Blanco, is a respected and revered tequila with a smooth yet delicate taste. The name has been synonymous with quality, tradition, and taste for years.
Few names are as respected and revered as Don Julio when it comes to tequila. With hints of citrus and a crisp agave flavor, this tequila is perfect for shots, sipping, or mixing. It is the perfect company for fun and social occasions such as picnics, parties, mariachi music, tequila tastings, and even weddings.
The Milagro line takes pride in handcrafting their tequilas from 100% blue agave, grown in the fields of Jalisco, Mexico. This bottle comes from Milagro's Select Barrel Reserve collection, distilled using an old-world method that imparts a rich earthy agave taste to the tequila.
There are light notes of vanilla, cinnamon, and honey on the palate, which is silky smooth (there’s almost no burn), slightly oily, and very earthy with more spice around the finish.
If you’re looking for an interesting reposado, look no further than Milagro Select Barrel Reserve Reposado Tequila.
If you're looking for an aged tequila that's elegant, smooth, and mellow, Don Julio Anejo is a great choice. Its flavor is built around hints of the agave plant itself, along with vanillins and other rich flavors.
Don Julio Anejo Tequila takes its deep golden hue from aging and its remarkable balance and smoothness from being aged for eighteen months in American white-oak barrels. Its sweet vanilla aroma is enhanced by a slightly spicy agave character that makes Don Julio Anejo a superb tequila for enjoying neat or shooting.
Thanks to its beautiful bottling, it can serve as the centerpiece of your next gathering of friends and family anywhere in the world.
Though we’ve included a wide range of tequilas here for every price range, it helps to take note of a few pointers when you’re making your choice. These tips will also help if you’re buying in-store rather than online.
- Price: Steer clear of any tequila that costs less than $15, as it’s an indicator of low-quality tequila. In the $25-$30 range, you can easily locate an excellent tequila that can be used in shots, cocktails, or as a sipper. However, it’s less likely to find 100% tequila below the $20 price range.
- Age: It'll be helpful to keep track of the basic grading system for tequilas: Blanco, Reposado, and Anejo. Blanco is unaged and is crisp and clear with herbal and citrus oil notes. Reposado is a little aged (at least 2 months), while Anejo are the oldest tequilas with a stronger woody taste and richer vanilla aromas.
- Label: Go for tequila that says "100% Blue Weber Agave" on the label. As it is the most refined expression of tequila, you’ll want to look for this.
- Packaging: Don't buy anything that comes in a plastic bottle or contains a worm, scorpion, or any other animal on the bottle, as it is probably a mixto (cheap tequila).
How to Take A Shot of Tequila
We’d like to assume you’re already a pro at this, but don’t worry if you need a refresher. We’ve got you.
Step 1: Pick your tequila of choice. We recommend checking our list above for prime tequilas.
Step 2: Get your shot and chaser ready. Pour the tequila into a shot glass and have lemon or lime wedges ready. Set aside some salt as well.
Step 3: Things are about to get started. Lick the area of your hand where your thumb and pointing finger meet, then apply salt on that area.
Step 4: Hold your lemon/lime wedge in place using the same hand with a salty area on it.
Step 5: Suck the salt from your hand.
Step 6: Immediately after, swallow the tequila shot in one go!
Step 7: Suck on the lemon/lime wedge right after that.
And that’s it! Enjoy the drink and get the party started!
A Quick Background on Tequila
For everything that it's been associated with in recent years, the agave spirit remains as revered among professional bartenders as bourbon and scotch despite its frequent association with rabble-rousers like salt and lime or Tequila Sunrise.
Though the famous Mexican liquor has been around for centuries, it wasn’t always the party's drink of choice.
Around 250 AD, the Aztecs discovered pulque, a drink produced from the fermented juices of a plant called maguey, a relative of agave. The earliest tequila, unlike pulque, was likely produced by Spanish colonists when they entered South America. Don Pedro Sánchez de Tagle founded the first distillery in what is now Tequila, Jalisco, in the early 1600s.
Mexican tequila was eventually recognized as intellectual property by the Mexican government in 1974. It was then stated that the liquor may only be produced in the states of Jalisco, Nayarit, Guanajuato, Michoacán, and Tamaulipas.