Agave plants, which provide the juice for fermentation and distillation, take seven years to reach the ideal age for production, and a total 12 years to grow to full maturity. Once distilled, the spirit may then age for anywhere between a few months to more than three years prior to release, depending on which style is being produced.
Long story short: It takes a long time to make even the simplest tequila expression. And time, as the age-old adage goes, is money. But remarkably, you can still pick up a high-quality bottle of tequila for a relative bargain. In fact, for less than $25, there are several bottles worthy of a place on your liquor shelf.
VinePair staff members recently tasted more than 20 nationally available tequilas priced at $25 and below. While some definitely lend themselves to being mixed in cocktails, others surprised tasters with their versatility and quality, even when sipped neat at room temperature.
Here are eight of our favorite tequilas, priced at $25 and under.
Perfect for Margaritas, Bribon Blanco exudes peppery, vegetal aromas, which continue onto the palate that is also salty and briny in character. This flavor profile makes it a perfect match for the sharp acidity of lime juice and the sweet notes of triple sec. Combined, they serve America’s favorite cocktail. Average price: $21.
Lunazul Añejo tequila has a bay leaf, Old Spice character on the nose, and the palate is well-rounded with vanilla sweetness (the product of a period of between one year and 18 months spent resting in ex-bourbon barrels). If you like rye whiskey, or want to swap in an aged agave spirit into a rye-based cocktail, this tequila is ideal. Average price $23.
The aromas of Cazadores Blanco mix sweet baking ingredients, like brown sugar and vanilla, with gentle black pepper spice. The sweet notes continue on the palate, which reminded us of cupcakes and funfetti. Enjoy ice cold with lime and soda in the summer, or mix up a Paloma with fresh grapefruit juice. (Alternatively, pick up a bottle of Cazadores Reposado, which is equally delicious, and introduces savory notes and a faintly smoky character to the palate.) Average price: $22.
Officially the world’s best-selling tequila, Jose Cuervo puts in a strong performance when tasted alongside its similarly priced competitors. The aromas recall pickled jalapeños and cactus, with a faint vegetal whiff of aloe vera. The palate is pleasantly peppery, with an off-dry finish. “I can hit that straight,” one taster commented. Average price: $19.
Oozing in character, Olmeca Altos Plata is minty and herbal, with a well-balanced bitter chocolate finish. The bottle looks a lot more “craft” than its price tag suggests, and its well-rounded flavor profile promises to hold up in any number of tequila cocktails. Take this bottle to a dinner party full of cocktail enthusiasts and you won’t disappoint. Average price: $21.
With pronounced savory aromas and an approachable palate, Arette Tequila Blanco is ideal for shots or sipping with a simple lime wedge and a few cubes of ice. The nose is dominated by fresh notes of green bell pepper and brined vegetables, while the palate evokes agave syrup and the prickly heat of freshly crushed peppercorns. Average price: $22.
Regardless of price point, this is a solid reposado tequila. But the fact that Espolòn Tequila Reposado comes in at less than $25 is noteworthy and cause for celebration. Pouring a Chardonnay-esque pale gold, this tequila serves up vanilla cookies and agave notes on the nose, followed by salted caramel and black pepper on the palate. The finish is velvet smooth, allowing it to be enjoyed neat or mixed in the cocktail of your choice. Average price: $23.
Besting the competition with its remarkably fresh, floral-driven nose, Milagro tequila is expressive, exceptionally well balanced, and easy to enjoy. Its aromas include dark sugar, orange blossom, and cookie dough, while the palate incorporates savory vegetal notes and mild pepper spice. This is a versatile spirit, and one you should get to know by mixing in brunch cocktails like a Bloody Maria, as well as classics like the Paloma and Margarita. Or by sipping it neat to experience the spirit’s compelling character. Average price: $23.