Tequila is one of those distilled spirits which range in quality from fine brandy to paint remover. Unfortunately, most Americans are acquainted with the paint remover varieties.
As one of those rare tequila afecionados, I have been collecting an extensive tequila bar. (At one time I had thought about having some friends in for an evening of tequila tasting, but that could be dangerous given the number of selections.)
I have prepared the list below in the hope of soliciting comments. Some of these are available only in certain states or regions of the U.S.
As far as my own ratings, I offer the following three:
1. Tequila Centinela Best tequila I can afford but cannot buy in this area 2. Herradura Best tequila I can afford and can buy in this area (except anejo) 3. Sauza Hornitos Best production Tequila at a reasonable price
While Jose Cuevo Especial ("Cuervo Gold") dominates the U.S. market, in my opinion it is overly sweet and uninteresting. At the other extreme, Chinaco, in numbered and dated bottles which often command as much as $100 when it can be found, is a fine brandy to be sequestered for very special occasions.
Coyote (herbal flavored) and T.Q. Hot (citrus/spice) are new products being marketed in the southwest (Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado) and probably appeal to the same market segment which is buying all that Captain Morgan Spiced Rum.
The DeKuyper margarita schnapps, the Agave Wine, and the Monte Teca liquour are included as agave-based curiosities. Hiram-Walker's "Shootarita" (margarita schnapps available in lime, pepper and tomato variants) has been omitted from the list for no particular reason.
Mezcal, which is known for the worm which many distillers place in the bottle, is a cousin of tequila and offers a much more pronounced smokey taste. Among the true tequilas, Monte Alban has a little of this characteristic.
So far, I have seen no effect of NAFTA on tequilla prices, which appear to be continuing to rise in the U.S. In spite of Ross Perot's predicitions, margarita drinkers who use plastic straws appear to be the only source of loud sucking sounds.
For Old Bear's favorite margarita recipe, click here.
OLD BEAR'S LIST OF TEQUILAS =========================== LUXURY TEQUILAS --------------- Chinaco Anejo Robert Denton & Co, Ltd Birmingham, MI Porfidio Anejo American Negociants Co Austin, TX FINE TEQUILAS ------------- Herradura Anejo Tequila Herradura USA New York, NY Herradura Gold Tequila Herradura USA New York, NY Herradura Silver Tequila Herradura USA New York, NY Tequila Centinela Anejo El Dorado Importers Santa Rosa, NM Tequila Centinela Blanco El Dorado Importers Santa Rosa, NM El Patron Anejo St Maarten Spirits Co Los Angeles, CA El Patron Silver St Maarten Spirits Co Los Angeles, CA El Tessoro Anejo Robert Denton & Co, Ltd Birmingham, MI El Tessoro Plata Robert Denton & Co, Ltd Birmingham, MI Real Hacienda Anejo Mina International Services Phoenix, AZ Inmemorial Viuda de Romero Mina International Services Phoenix, AZ El Viejito Anejo Paterno Imports Ltd Chicago, IL El Viejito Blanco Paterno Imports Ltd Chicago, IL Dos Reales Anejo The Dos Reales Co Hartford, CT Dos Reales Plata The Dos Reales Co Hartford, CT Husong's McCormick Distilling Co Weston, MO PRODUCTION TEQUILAS ------------------- Monte Alban Barton Imports Chicago, IL Jose Cuervo Tradicional Hublein, Inc Hartford, CT Jose Cuervo 1800 Hublein, Inc Hartford, CT Jose Cuervo Especial Hublein, Inc Hartford, CT Jose Cuervo Hublein, Inc Hartford, CT Sauza Tequila Especial Domeco Importers Old Greenwich, CT Sauza Tres Generaciones Domeco Importers Old Greenwich, CT Sauza Commemorativo Domeco Importers Old Greenwich, CT Sauza Hornitos Domeco Importers Old Greenwich, CT Two Fingers Hiram Walker & Sons Farmington Hills, MI Juarez Anejo Tequila Jalisco, SA St. Louis, MO FLAVORED TEQUILAS ----------------- T.Q. Hot Hiram Walker & Sons Farmington Hills, MI Coyote Coyote Import Co. Baltimore, MD COMMODITY TEQUILAS ------------------ Arandas Mainstone Importers Los Angeles, CA Baja Distillers Products Ltd San Jose, CA Ralph's RGC Ltd (Ralphs Grocery Co) Los Angeles, CA NOVELTY PACKAGES ---------------- El Toro Fleishman Distilling Co Louisville, KY Camino Real Martini & Rossi (Shaw-Ross) Miami, FL Black Death Cabo Distributing Co. South El Monte, CA MEZCAL ------ Gusano Rojo Nacional Vincola SA El Espadin La Costa Imports Atlanta, GA LIQUOUR ------- Monte Teca Chatham Imports New York, NY SCHNAPPS -------- Cactus Juice DeKuyper & Son Elmwood Place, OH AGAVE WINE ---------- Los Cabos Agave Especial Los Cabos Co San Jose, CA