Grab the salt. Grab a lime. It’s National Tequila Day—unless you happen to be in Mexico.
While it’s a widely observed made-up holiday here in the U.S., National Tequila Day in Mexico is actually the third Saturday of every March. Seeing as the drink originated there, it’s ironic that fans in the U.S. honor it on a wildly different date. But they certainly do so in vast quantities.
Tequila is one of the fastest growing spirit categories, according to the Distilled Spirits Council. Sales in 2018 were up 10.2%, or $279 million, to $3 billion. A worsening agave shortage could lead to shortages, though, even among major manufacturers, which has some producers worried.
For now, though, the supplies are plentiful. And the quality of tequila has been increasing sharply as well. Margaritas have their own day, so as you celebrate National Tequila Day, perhaps instead focus on a high-end sample of the spirit itself (neat, chilled or on the rocks—we won’t judge).
Here are a few to consider.
Nosotros Tequila Blanco
Sourcing its agave from different parts of Mexico gives this small batch brand a complexity that is winning rave reviews. It has a sweet start, but ends with an earthy, peppery finish. It was a “best tequila” winner of the 2017 San Francisco World Spirits Competition, besting many better known brands.
Espolòn Tequila Anejo
Instantly recognizable by the skeletons on its label, Espolòn is a well known brand that has earned its high reputation. Aged for 10 months in American oak and then put in Wild Turkey bourbon casks for another two, it’s a lively, floral tasting tequila that carries bursts of pepper and, sometimes, cinnamon.
Pasote is one of the hidden gems of the tequila world, offering stellar taste and smoothness. The Anejo ‘s Blanco is an excellent choice. Aged in bourbon barrels for 18 months, it carries hints of caramel, vanilla and a slight smokiness that compliments the agave wonderfully.
Tequila Don Julio Reposado, Double Cask
Don Julio introduced its Double Cask varietal last year, resting its Reposado in barrels used to make Buchanan’s scotch whisky. This year, they’ve shaken things up a bit, letting it age in casks that previously held Lagavulin Islay single malt scotch. And it’s even better. Full bodied and bold, the resulting product balances the two tastes wonderfully. It’s a limited edition, so grab it while you can.
Ghost Tequila Blanco
Want a tequila with a little kick? Ghost is infused with Bhut Jolokia extract, which gives if a fair bit of heat, without being overwhelming. You’ll get the sweetness of the agave up front and the heat in the back, but you won’t feel the all-too-frequent tequila burn at the finish. This is an intense tequila on its own, but if you insist on a margarita today, it will take yours to the next level.
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