The 5th May is Cinco de Mayo, an annual holiday that celebrates the Mexican army’s victory over France in the Battle of Puebla during the Franco-Mexican War in 1862. The day is typically marked by parades, dancing, music, food and drink… and the latter is what we’re discussing today.
As the national drink of Mexico, it only seems right to celebrate Cinco de Mayo in style with tequila. Whether you drink it neat or like it in a cocktail, we’ve rounded up the best tequilas for the occasion, including Añejo, Blanco, Mezcal and Reposado top picks.
Best Blanco Tequila
Blanco tequila is clear, unaged and tequila in its purest form. Also called silver or white, Blanco tequila is bottled immediately after being distilled and has an intense agave flavour. This type of tequila is most commonly used for making cocktails like margaritas.
123 UNO Organic (£57.79) is a delicious blanco tequila which is great for both sipping and mixing in cocktails. This blanco tequila is made from 10-year-old agave plants that are cooked slowly for 2 days in stone ovens before the juice is double-distilled. 123 UNO Organic Blanco Tequila has flavours of citrus, agave and black pepper and is clean and smooth on the palate.
PATRÓN is a well known name in the tequila industry, and its Silver Premium Tequila (£43.95) is the best quality tequila on the market, in terms of price and flavour. Produced from handpicked blue weber agave and distilled in copper stills, PATRÓN Silver has notes of pineapple, vanilla and pepper, so it’s both sweet and spicy. The bottle is also pretty looking too.
If you want to make a Margarita or Paloma, Cazcabel Blanco Tequila (£24.99) is the best mixing tequila to choose. This tequila has an affordable price and a light flavour, making it perfect to be mixed with other alcohols, soft drinks and fruit juice. Made from earthy agave, this fresh tequila is well balanced with zesty and peppery flavours.
Best Añejo Tequila
Añejo tequila is aged for 1-3 years in oak barrels. This ageing process, which is the longest out of the other types of tequila, is what gives Añejo its dark amber colour and richer flavour. Añejo is best for sipping rather than mixing.
Don Julio 1942 Añejo Tequila (£179.99) is the best of the best. The Don Julio brand has many tequilas available, but the 1942 was originally created for the 60th anniversary of Don Julio’s first distillery. Aged for two years in oak barrels, this luxurious tequila has notes of almonds, milk chocolate, cinnamon and spice, so it’s rich and complex.
Another smooth Añejo option is the Olmeca Altos Añejo Tequila (£43.99). A newer tequila that launched in 2016, the name ‘Altos’ refers to the Los Altos region in Mexico which makes the best 100% agave tequilas. Aged for 13 months in oak casks, this tequila is best for sipping neat, thanks to its woody flavours and hints of dried fruits, nuts and chocolate.
Mijenta Añejo Tequila (£150) is the first B-Corp certified tequila and focuses on sustainable sourcing and small batches. Matured for 18 months in oak, acacia and cherry wood casks, this tequila comes in a beautifully decorated bottle with notes of oak, nuts, tobacco, butterscotch and cacao nibs, so it’s a great option if you like strong smokey tequilas.
Best Reposado Tequila
Reposado tequila is aged between 2-12 months in either oak barrels or steel tanks. Different wood barrels are used in the ageing process like American or French oak, and some Reposado tequilas are left to age in used whisky, cognac or bourbon barrels. This ageing gives Reposado tequila a golden colour and a mix of agave and woody flavours, which should be drunk neat.
Casamigos Reposado Tequila (£84.99) is aged in America white oak ex-bourbon barrels and distilled in stainless steel pots to give its light golden colour. This Reposado tequila is bright, oaky and fruity, with notes of tropical fruit, oak, vanilla and white pepper. As a nice sipping tequila, it tastes like a blend of Reposado and Añejo.
If you like making Reposado cocktails, the Fortaleza Reposado Tequila (£64.69) is a great option. Made in oak barrels and aged for 6-9 months, it has a clearer yellow-y colour and has flavours of lemon, cardamom, vanilla and cinnamon. It’s a nice blend of fruity and spicy.
A budget-friendly, vegan and gluten free option is the El Rayo Reposado Tequila (£37.95). Aged in American white oak whisky barrels for 7 months, this tequila has warm flavours like caramel, aromatic spices and almonds. The El Rayo Reposado Tequila is specifically designed to be paired with tonic and tastes nice with citrus like orange and grapefruit.
Best Mezcal Tequila
Rather than being made from blue agave like the other tequila, mezcal is made from a wide variety of agave, like espadín, tobalá, and tepeztate. When the agave is cooked for mezcal, it’s roasted in an underground pit covered with hot rocks for days before being distilled in clay pots. Mezcal has a smokey flavour and can be drunk on its own or used in cocktails.
Del Maguey has an extensive collection of mezcal tequila options, all of which celebrate the traditions of ancestral villages. The Del Maguey Mezcal Vida Tequila (£44.45) is fruity and aromatic, with hints of honey, vanilla, ginger, cinnamon, burnt sandalwood and tangerine. With so many choices, it’ll be hard to get bored of Del Maguey.
If you want a mezcal Margarita, the Ilegal Joven Mezcal Tequila (£47.49) is the best choice. This unaged mezcal has a barely-there straw-like colour and is made from espadín agave. The Ilegal Joven Mezcal Tequila is full bodied, subtly smokey and has notes of citrus, chillies, green peppers and eucalyptus.
For a smokey option, pick the Corte Vetusto Espadin Mezcal Tequila (£64). The espadín agave is cooked for four days to enhance the smokiness, which gives the tequila a whisky-esque smell and flavour. Other notes include vanilla, pear and fruit.