It seems as though every month, a new brand or bottle of tequila comes out, and the price tag follows. It's great to see that quality tequila has become widely available to the masses, but it can be hard to decide how much you should spend when you can find plenty of great options for under $30. We've broken down our recommendations for the best tequila under $30, so you can figure out what will work best for you. Whether you want to buy a bottle that represents the perfect value or is just a fraction of the cost of its more expensive competition — our buying guide will help you decide what's best for your wallet and your drinking regime.
If you're here, chances are you already enjoy tequila. But do you know how it's created or where it came from? Let's take a minute to appreciate this fine beverage better.
To make tequila, the Agave tequila plant known as Weber Blue is harvested, steamed (also known as roasted) in an oven or underground pit before fermentation and distillation, and bottling. Tequila and mezcal have been made using this method for hundreds of years, and this exact agave variety is exclusively available in Jalisco, Mexico.
What makes it unique?
There is more sugar in this specific kind of agave compared to other agave plants; nonetheless, harvesting the plant takes roughly ten years. In reality, the plant's extended life is what gives it its distinct taste. Each liter of tequila made requires around 15 pounds of raw agave.
The rise of Tequila
As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, many bars are closed or operating at reduced capacity, thereby limiting consumers' opportunities to drink tequila. However, the tequila category has been performing well in the US off-premise channel (i.e., supermarkets) as consumers shift their consumption habits to home drinking.]
- Tequila has been a staple amongst consumers replicating their favorite cocktails at home. The margarita has long been a top-selling cocktail at bars and restaurants easily replicated at home.
- Several new brands, notably celebrity brands, have recently entered the high-end sector. The pandemic will undoubtedly lead to some devaluation of luxury products, particularly for mixers but premiumization is expected to continue.
- Overall, most people know that the on-premise price of 4-5 margaritas is about the same as the price of one ultra-premium bottle, and they've moved their money around.
What to look for
Tequila is one of the most misunderstood spirits in the world. It’s not just a shot you take with salt and lime in your hand, it’s actually a premium spirit worthy of tasting, drinking neat or sipping on ice.
- Look for Tequila that’s 100% Blue Agave so you can rest easy knowing you're drinking only the best tequila, and won’t have a splitting headache the next day.
- Don't mistake color for quality. In order to conceal defects, some poor quality tequila will use colorants to make it look aged.
- Find out what kind of tequila you like. There are four types: Blanco, Reposado, Anejo, Extra Anejo
- Blanco is the ‘purest' version directly from the stills. This has a fruity taste and a tequila ‘bite' to it as well. It's ideal for mixed beverages and cocktails.
- Reposado is tequila aged in oak barrels for two months to a year, giving it a subtle gold tint and reducing its bite and making it go down easier.
- Anejo is the starting point for top-shelf sipping tequila aged in oak barrels for at least one year. This is also where brands can add their own twist to the spirit.
- Extra Anejo is the rarest. These tequilas are aged for a minimum of three years in various barrels. These are tequila drinkers' prized possessions and should solely be enjoyed straight.
- Price doesn’t determine the quality (hence this article). Cheap Tequila can be had for as little as $10, while better grade Tequila can be had for as little as $20 more.
- It's not a good idea to buy tequila that comes with a worm.
Label terms to know
El Jimador Blanco, $24.99
For superior cocktails, reach for el Jimador. This tequila is made from premium quality 100% blue agave and as natural as it can get with none of the smoothness taken out. As a result, its crystal clarity belies the refined white pepper, cooked agave, and hints of citrusy sweetness in its flavor. Pour shots at parties or use it to make your favorite cocktail, including the classic margarita.
Sauza Hornitos Plata, $28.95
Not everyone can afford a $70 tequila. Sauza's Plata is the perfect compromise. You can have your nice bottle of tequila, but without paying a premium price for it. Give your palate more than it expected with this 100% blue agave tequila that is smooth and refreshing. This award-winning tequila is made from 100% pure blue agave and has a clean, lively flavor. For the price, this is decent tequila. It has a really excellent agave flavor; will go great with margaritas and other mixed drinks.
Corralejo Silver, $29.95
Corralejo takes the agave to its core. The spirit offers exceptional flavor and aroma without any barrel aging. It’s smooth, velvety, and rich with bright fruit and a hint of peppercorn shining through. Corralejo Silver Tequila is made entirely from carefully selected agaves, many purists and tequila aficionados claim that Blanco Tequila (the one after aging) is the best of them all. It’s smooth, velvety, rich with a hint of peppercorn shining through. Seriously, this stuff tastes amazing – so don’t wait to try it!
Jose Cuervo Especial Gold, $19.95
Beloved by over 70% of American consumers, Jose Cuervo Especial Gold is the world's most popular tequila. It holds the title of "Gold Standard," by which other tequilas are judged. Making the list for quality, consistency, and great taste, Cuervo Gold is 'polite' enough to be enjoyed on its own, or as an ingredient in many of our favorite cocktails. With an amber hue and smooth taste, Tequila is a favorite spirit at most bars around the country.
Bandero Blanco Tequila, $27.95
Like fine art, quality and perfection are the key elements that separate Bandero Blanco from the rest. True to tequila's Spanish origins, the Spirit of the Revolution is a higher-end tasting spirit with a unique artisanal flavor and floral aroma that brings new meaning to the phrase, "el Espiritu de la revolution," or "Spirit of the Revolution." Bandero Blanco's dedication to quality and tradition makes for an outstanding experience when sipping this tequila. This is one of the smoothest Tequilas you will ever taste.
Cenote Blanco Tequila, $29.95
With brilliant color and notes of, yes, even wood--this tequila is meant for sipping, but it's also ideal for mixing in a margarita or simply soaking up in the day's first beer. It's packed with taste and such a treat that you might want to sip one now and come back for another later. Try sipping Cenote Blanco mixed with fresh lime juice. Or mix it with fresh lemon or orange juice to make a delicious mock-caviar cocktail. Sip it straight, or try it on the rocks with an orange slice.
While we can’t speak to every tequila out there, we think that the list we created gives some strong recommendations for anyone looking for a new bottle of tequila. By focusing on tequilas ranging from $20-$30 and above, we believe you will find a product that gives you an excellent bang for your buck. And, if you have had the chance to try out any of these options already, let us know what you think. We’d love to hear about your experience in the comments below!