A Complete Guide to the Best Under-the-Radar Sipping Tequilas

These delightful tequilas are best enjoyed alone.

collage of three types of tequila in different bottles
Curious about the best sipping tequila? You’re in the right place. Observer

Tequila is only continuing its rise in popularity, and it’s easy to see why—there are so many different types of tequila out there, for every taste palette. The most popular terms and designations for tequila include blanco, reposado and  añejo, but there are actually many more. While some are perhaps most suited for making a top-shelf margarita, the best way to enjoy any truly premium, high-quality spirit is to sip it on its own. The market for luxury sipping tequila is bursting with exciting options, including some of which have been around for years, making agave spirits using traditional and artisanal methods, as well as newer additions to the field, breaking with those traditions and forging new paths.

So, what makes for a great tequila in the first place? First of all, tequila has to be made from at least 51 percent blue Weber agave, harvested from the Mexican state of Jalisco, with the official regions including Nayarit, Guanajuato, Michoacán and Tamaulipas. Agave takes approximately five to seven years to mature before it can be harvested, so patience is a virtue for any tequila lover. The best of those bottles contain 100 percent blue agave, so real connoisseurs should keep an eye out for that particular detail on the label.

Sipping tequilas, in particular, must be smooth and easy to drink in order to be enjoyable, because unlike tequila used in mixed cocktails, the liquor is truly center stage here. The best versions have typically spent some time resting in a toasted wooden barrel, as that rest imparts tannins and flavors from the wood itself into the spirit, which makes for a rounder, fuller taste. The complexity of flavor possible with aged tequilas is so great that many compare their popularity to aged whiskey, and the bottles have become just as popular to collect.

Blanco, or un-aged tequila, makes for a great mixer in cocktails, while tequila with a little more age can hang out on its own, without some of those harsher characteristics often found in blanco tequila. In fact, the terms reposado and añejo refer to how much time is spent in the barrel—reposado is aged for anywhere from two months up to a year, while añejos spend one to three years aging in oak. Anything over that is considered an extra añejo. Not sure where to begin? We’ve got you covered. Below, see the best under-the-radar sipping tequilas to start your journey.

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Casa Dragones Joven
Casa Dragones. Casa Dragones

Casa Dragones Joven

This small batch tequila is truly made to be sipped. Co-founder and CEO Bertha González Nieves is the first female Maestra Tequilera to be certified by the Academia Mexicana de Catadores de Tequila or the Mexican Academy of Tequila Tasters. She makes 100 percent blue agave tequila from Jalisco, which pays homage to the traditions of tequila while also employing modern innovations to improve the final product. By pairing diffusion with column still distillation, the resulting liquid develops a clean viscosity that coats the palette. Joven, a mix of blanco and reposado tequilas, allows for a bright burst of flavors at the first sip, with a round, smooth finish. The Casa Dragones Joven features notes of anise, pear and pepper. Even the bottle is an homage to subtle elegance, and serves as a hand-crafted crystal decanter right from Mexico City, complete with pepita embellishments.

Los Lobos 1707 Reposado
Los Lobos. Los Lobos

Los Lobos 1707 Reposado

Los Lobos Reposado is the beautiful melding of a celebrity-owned spirit brand with a strong lineage of tradition. Founder Diego Osorio’s family has been using a proprietary technique to make tequila since the 16th century, and when NBA star LeBron James got on board, it was a true game changer. This is the real deal; only 100 percent blue Weber agave, sourced from Los Altos de Jalisco in Mexico, is used. A generous aging in American white oak barrels is followed by a further finishing rest in barrels that previously held Spanish Pedro Ximenez sherry, which brings rich fruit notes that make for a tequila that sips easily and ends with a light, peppery finish.

brown bottle of Casa Noble Marqués De Casa Noble Anejo tequila
Casa Noble. Casa Noble

Casa Noble Marqués De Casa Noble Anejo

A good sipping tequila often comes down to either the blend or the barrel—this particular bottle from Casa Noble has both. Maestro Tequilero Jose “Pepe” Hermosillo hand-selected the trees for the casks in the Allier region of France, and rested the spirits for a minimum of one, but up to five, years. The French oak is known for its excellent tannic structure, and is used for some of the best French wines. Hermosillo then blended nine añejos with twelve extra añejos. The resulting liquid starts off with lots of caramel, red berries and cinnamon, and finishes with rich chocolate notes.

bottle of Maestro Dobel Diamante tequila
Maestro Dobel Diamante. Maestro Dobel

Maestro Dobel Diamante

Maestro Dobel is an under-the-radar premium tequila that you may have never heard of—that is, until now. This family-owned, single estate house was created by and named after Juan Domingo Beckmann Legorreta (Dobel), who just so happens to come from 11 generations of tequila-makers, and is the current CEO of José Cuervo. The Diamante expression is a blend of European oak aged reposado, añejo and extra añejo. The liquid is then filtered twice, which removes the color and produces what is known as “cristalino,” which retains the flavors from aging and the richer mouth feel, but not the dark color. The blending makes for a unique sip that is both vibrant and smooth, with great complexity and flavor.

Casa Del Sol tequila bottle
Casa Del Sol. Casa Del Sol

Casa Del Sol Anejo

Casa Del Sol may be a newcomer to the sipping tequila world, but the team behind the top-shelf liquor is not. The head of production is the the goddaughter of the late Francisco Alcaraz, who was a pioneer and master distiller in the tequila world, and the creator of Patrón. Add in actress Eva Longoria as a co-founder, and this was sure to be a hit. Of course, quality comes first and this Casa Del Sol is made from 100 percent blue Weber agave, which comes from a particular part of the highlands of Jalisco that is known for its rich, fertile soil. The agave spirit is then matured in a mix of French oak and Cognac barrels for fourteen months. All of this results in a rich yet elegant tequila that is full of toasted oak, apricot, vanilla and raisin.

white and blue bottle of Clase Azul Anejo tequila
Clase Azul. Clase Azul

Clase Azul Anejo

Clase Azul’s beloved reposado tequila, and their hand-painted white and blue bottles, may not be the most under-the-radar, but their other expressions are often overlooked. The añejo tequila comes in its  own unique hand-painted bottle, to further differentiate itself. The delicate blue and 24-carat gold touches are a tribute to the indigenous Mazahua people, representing the water, earth and sun. The tequila has experienced plenty of both, having spent 25 months aging inside used bourbon and whiskey barrels, which means that it is more complex and refined. The tequila itself is full of big, round flavors, with an emphasis on caramel and butterscotch, balanced with toasted oak and warm baking spices.

A Complete Guide to the Best Under-the-Radar Sipping Tequilas