Tequila is often viewed as being a spirit that should be slammed back, but in reality the vast majority should be sipped and appreciated. This is especially true when you reach the older age categories of the spirit.
Añejo, or ‘old’ Tequila, needs to have been aged for at least a year in oak casks that have a maximum capacity of 600 litres.
This category is where the wood influence on the spirit starts to really overtake the clear agave notes that should definitely be present in those Tequilas that fall under the blanco category, and should still be identifiable in reposados.
This oak influence often imparts sweet notes such as vanilla and caramel, and sometimes a spicy, drying side too.
The barrels utilised for ageing may be new or used, and the size of the barrel, the way the wood has been treated and what it has held previously if it is a used barrel all have an influence on the flavour.
Best Añejo Tequila: Eight to try
Calle 23 Añejo
Calle 23’s añejo is double-distilled in traditional pot stills, before being matured for 16 months in ex-bourbon casks. Aromas of cream soda, coffee granules and tobacco tin give way to flavours of salted butter, rich agave, vanilla, coffee and pencil shavings. Alc 40%
Famed for being founded by George Clooney, Rande Gerber and Mike Meldman, the quality of Casamigos’ products can’t be questioned. Its añejo is aged for 14 months in American white oak barrels, with the oak influence showing through with notes of cocoa, coffee, caramel and pepper, alongside a distinctive hit of vanilla. Alc 40%
Don Julio 1942
Aged for at least two-and-a-half years and made in small batches, Don Julio 1942 was created to celebrate the 60th anniversary of founder Don Julio Gonzalez starting his Tequila-making adventure. This is a Tequila that sits more on the dessert end of the spirits spectrum, its rich honeyed agave characters mingling with caramel, cocoa and almonds. Alc 38%
Handmade using traditional techniques, Fortaleza’s products are a tip of the hat to the Tequilas of yesteryear. There are no shortcuts here; even the agave-shaped bottle stoppers are made by hand. Aged for 18 months in American oak, Fortaleza owner Guillermo Sauza calls the añejo his ‘crème brulee’. It’s a moreish mix of banana, ginger nut biscuits, butterscotch, cream and sea salt on the finish. Alc 40%
Gran Patrón Burdeos
Part of Patron’s super-premium Gran Patrón range, Burdeos is aged for a year in American and French oak barrels, then distilled for a third time and aged for a further 10 months in Bordeaux casks. It’s a silky-smooth Tequila full of red fruits, honey and granola, cocoa, vanilla and coffee grounds. Alc 40%
The first commercially available añejo Tequila, Herradura Añejo was launched in 1962. Aged for 25 months in American white oak barrels, a distinct nose of banoffee pie, raisins and dates precedes a palate of mango, banana, pineapple, toffee, sea salt and sumac. Sipped neat, it pairs brilliantly with dark chocolate mousse. Alc 40%
Olmeca Tezon Añejo
Tezon is a premium range produced by the Olmeca distillery in the Highlands. Production involves using traditional ovens to roast the agave, and a large volcanic stone called a tahona to crush it. Tequilas made using only tahona-crushed agaves are rare – for other examples, look to Fortaleza, or the Roca Patron range. Tezon Añejo boasts a nose of tea leaves and cereal, and a sweet palate of orange zest, butterscotch, pine and vanilla. Alc 40%
Made by legendary master distiller Carlos Camarena, the third generation of his family to make Tequila at La Altena, their distillery in the Highlands of Jalisco. This añejo is aged for around 18 months in ex-bourbon casks, leading to a spicy spirit full of vanilla, cinnamon and nutmeg. Berry fruit and a herbaceous character can also be found in this intriguing Tequila, before further spice and some smoke come in on the finish. Alc 40%