Essential Blanco Tequilas to Stock in Your Liquor Cabinet

Casa Dragones Tequila
Photo: Courtesy of Casa Dragones

Vital for margaritas, for palomas, and for the occasional shot, blanco tequila is a workhorse; your liquor cabinet isn't complete without it. So for National Tequila Day, we're bringing you our favorites. Lightly aged reposado and long-aged añejo are entirely different animals, but for the moment, we'll concentrate on the best unaged tequila. Here are twelve of the best. —Carey Jones

01 of 12

Pueblo Viejo

Pueblo Viejo Tequila
Courtesy of Pueblo Viejo

All good tequilas are made from 100 percent blue agave—never buy a bottle that doesn't state that right on the label. Plenty of inexpensive tequilas are mixto, cut with other spirits. (Cuervo Gold, we're looking at you.) But Pueblo Viejo is a crazy value at around $20 and is bright, fruity, and dynamic—exactly what you want in your margarita. Find it: totalwine.com

02 of 12

El Jimador

El Jimador Tequila
Courtesy of El Jimador

Proof that you don't need to shell out $50 for a great blanco tequila, El Jimador is smooth and oh-so-drinkable, a nice balance of fruity-sweet and vegetal-herbal. 100 percent blue agave, like all the spirits on this list. Find it: reservebar.com

03 of 12

Roca Patrón

Roca Patrón Tequila
Patrón Tequila

We've all encountered Patrón—it's been the reigning status-symbol tequila for decades. But we're much bigger fans of their Roca, made with old-fashioned methods—all the agave baked in brick ovens and then crushed by a volcanic stone tahona wheel. The result is a crisp tequila with a peppery bite, noticeably more complex than Patrón's signature counterpart. Roca is where it's at. Find it: drizly.com

04 of 12

Fortaleza

Fortaleza
Fortaleza

Tequila country, mostly within the state of Jalisco, encompasses both the Highlands and the Lowlands — differing, clearly, in their elevation—and agave from each is distinct. Highlands tequilas tend to be sweeter and fruitier; the lowlands, earthier. Of the latter, we adore Fortaleza. While the brand only dates to 2005, the family that produces it is descended from Don Cenobio, the first man to export tequila to the States, and has been in the tequila business for five generations. Fortaleza is smooth, rounded, and quite savory, one of our favorites anywhere at any price. Find it: flaviar.com

05 of 12

Don Julio

Don Julio
Diageo

One of the classics. A Highlands tequila that showcases that region's typical flavors — it's light and vibrant with flavors of citrus and pepper. Perfect in a Paloma or margarita. Find it: reservebar.com

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Casa Noble

Casa Noble Tequila
Casa Noble

While Casa Noble has an excellent joven (young) tequila, rested in French oak for just 30 days, we like their less-pricey Crystal Blanco Tequila just as much—a beautiful specimen of a lowland tequila, grassy and savory with a lingering finish. Find it: flaviar.com

07 of 12

Olmeca Altos

Olmeca Altos Tequila
Pernod Ricard Olmeca Altos

Another great value, clocking in around $25, Olmeca Altos is a great example of tequila made from agave grown in the highlands, at nearly 7,000 feet in altitude. That agave creates a spirit that's crisp and citrusy with a fruity aroma — put this one in your margarita. Find it: reservebar.com

08 of 12

Siete Leguas

Siete Leguas Tequila
Courtesy of Siete Leguas

Like many tequilas on this list, Siete Leguas is made by traditional methods, with a horse-drawn tahona wheel crushing the cooked agave; the resulting spirit is distinctly vegetal, with an almost herbal aroma. Equally compelling in a margarita or all on its own. Find it in: Many high-end liquor stores

09 of 12

Espolòn

Espolòn Tequila
Courtesy of Espolòn Tequila

You may recognize Espolòn from your local craft cocktail bar. It's been embraced by the mixology world for a reason: bright and crisp with a little spice to it, it's delicious in just about any cocktail you'd want to shake it into. Find it: reservebar.com

10 of 12

Milagro

Milagro Tequila
Courtesy of Milagro Tequila

One of the best bottles we've found under $30, Milagro (translation: "miracle") may indeed be worthy of its name. Bring this one to a party; everyone will appreciate the lovely blue bottle and the lively, fruity tequila inside. Margaritas all the way. Find it: reservebar.com

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Don Fulano

Don Fulano Tequila
Don Fulano Archive

Sipping it neat lets you appreciate all the flavor inherent in highlands-grown agave; it's delicate and fruity, with a precise balance of citrus and spice. The blanco is excellent, and the blanco fuerte, bottled at a higher proof, better still. Made by a family with five generations of agave growers, it's a tequila that's all about terroir. Find it: tequilamatchmaker.com

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Casa Dragones

Casa Dragones Tequila
Courtesy of Casa Dragones

Looking to impress a tequila aficionado? Pick up a bottle of Casa Dragones. While the spirit is crystal-clear, it's a blend of unaged tequila and extra-añejo that's been aged for five years, resulting in a velvet-smooth tequila that's easy to sip on its own. The price is well up into three digits, so let's call this a truly special-occasion spirit. Find it: reservebar.com

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