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Mar 30, 2005 01:01 AM

What's up with Tequila?

  • t

I went to buy a bottle of silver tequila as a present for a friend and discovered this sh*t is expensive. Why? I know it has had a bit of a renaissance lately, but man, these prices--even for a low-end brand--are way out of whack from when I last purchased some tequila (maybe 15 years ago). Does anyone have a recommendation for a decent bottle of silver tequila? This friend likes Patron, but I can't lay out +$50 for a bottle of liquor. Is there any hope? Or can you recommend a site where I can post this question for some responses? Thanks.

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  1. I think you'll get some good responses here, once the tequila demi-gods see your post. Me, I'm just barely beginning my master's degree. But I can recommend both Herradura and El Tesoro silvers as being good bottles. They each run about $35-40 here in NorCal. Yeah, quality 100% blue agave tequila isn't cheap.

    4 Replies
    1. re: nja

      I believe there has been a shortage of agave plants the last few years. That's why it's so expensive. Richie

      1. re: Richie

        I too have heard that there's a massive agave shortage in Mexico, made worse by the recent surge in tequila popularity. Agave plants apparently take forever to grow, so it's not like the farmers can say "hey, those folks up north sure do like tequila this year, let's grow more next year." They have to plan decades in advance.

        1. re: nooodles

          In a Wine Spectator a few years ago I read that there was a signifigant Blue Agave blight. Apparently the Agave plants take over 8 years to mature - this added to it's growing popularity has most likely driven the prices up

        2. re: Richie

          The Mexican government put a huge tax increase on it last year.

      2. Supply vs demand. Rise in popularity. Shortage of agave plant. Oh, don't forget the price of oil. So they say. Let's check the price of pork bellies.

        1. As another poster already recommended, I think that El Tesoro makes the best value silver out there right now. In NY, NJ, and PA I have been able to get it for about $35.

          Do a side-by-side with Patron - you may be surprised.

          1. Although I do understand the economics of being unable to "lay out + $ 50 for a bottle of liquor", I really do not think that is expensive for what you are getting. Good tequila ( I concur with the other posters reccomendations )should be treated like a good single malt scotch, straight up or on the rocks and sipped. This quality tequila should NEVER meet a Margarita mix.

            2 Replies
            1. re: Tee

              The OP should be able to find plenty of solid silvers for under 50 bucks. That price for silver, even now, sounds significantly out of line.

              I've been a big fan of both Tequila and Mezcal for a long time, and I think the best value in the price range we're talking about is Cazadores reposado. Mostly found in Mexican markets, but starting to reach out to the US market at large.

              I agree that a reposado or anejo should generally be had straight up, though exceptions could be made. But I can't agree that even a very good silver should never be mixed. That's sort of like saying that a very good vodka or gin should never go into a mixed drink. While some might think so, I don't.

              Regarding the use of fine tequila in a cocktail, when the margarita is at the level of, say, Topolobampo's, I'd say it is a good use.

              1. re: JeffB

                Agreed. Its been my experience that if you're making the margarita with good ingredients and proper proportions, the flavor of the tequila shines.

                I recently called a margarita with Chinaco Green Label at a place that makes perfect margaritas. People around me were agast, but when I let my friends taste it, they were in awe - it was incredible.


            2. Depending on what your friend plans to do with it, I have found Sauza Silver (I think around $20.00, maybe less, the last time I bought one) to be excellent in mixed drinks, especially Bloody Marias. I've never tried it straight though.

              12 Replies
              1. re: Fydeaux

                The last time I checked Sauza Silver is not 100% agave which is why its so cheap.

                Anything that does not say 100% agave can, by law, be up to 49% anything else (usually cane alcohol) and still be labeled "tequila". This group of tequilas are known as "mixto". Jose Cuervo is another company that produces a lot of mixtos.

                Personally, I find that mixtos give me a brutal headache/hangover and never buy them. And I would never recommend a mixto or Sauza to someone who is interested in a good bottle of tequila.


                1. re: Pssst
                  Caitlin McGrath

                  What 100% agave do you prefer for mixing?

                  1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                    I have a few favorites but because people's preferences are different and because the flavor profiles of various tequila are so different (particularly highland vs. lowland), I recommend tasting them & deciding yourself what you like.

                    Right now, we have three bottles of "cocktail" tequila open (but few of our tequilas ar sacred though I drink my tequila straight more often than not):
                    Orendain - a great deal if you can find their 100% agave offerings since so few people the U.S. has heard of it;
                    Cuervo Traditional - one of their 100% agave offerings, someone brought it to a party; and
                    Cazadores - owned by Bacardi its decent, easy to find & one of the cheaper 100% agave tequilas. Also note that they just launched a more premium brand, Corzo, which is good - it has a beautiful bottle but I don't think its a great price/flavor ratio.

                    We also regularly use El Tesoro and Herradura. Pura Sangre and Cabrita are work horse tequilas that I usually find for a good price in Latin neighborhoods.

                    I tend to haunt various sources looking for deals and then I load up. The last time I was in Guadalajara, Michael & I stuffed 36 bottles of tequila into our suitcases and carry-ons (its soo much cheaper at the source).

                    Lastly, I blend and age tequila myself so sometimes I'll use my experiments as a cocktail tequila.


                    1. re: Pssst
                      Caitlin McGrath

                      Thanks, this gives me plenty to work with!

                      1. re: Pssst

                        As I said, when I'm out and about, look for deals on tequila. Whenever I'm in Colma, I check out Bevmo which is a chain but for some reason the Colma store tends to have a better tequila selection (maybe they don't sell out of stuff as fast as the Bevmo's in SF proper.)

                        Anyway, today I bought Orendain Ollitas Repo 750ml for $22.99 and and Carmessi Repo 375 ml for $22.99.

                        Now here's my complaint (and what makes buying tequila tought for a newbie or someone who doesn't read labels carefully) -

                        The Orendain Ollitas was on the open shelves (not the locked cases) next to all the mixto tequilas. In fact, it was right next to the Orendian Joven (a mixto) so many customers wouldn't even notice that its a 100% agave tequila. And its placement with the mixtos gives the impression that its not as good as the tequilas in the locked case. In the locked case was the Don Eduardo Repo for $40. In my opinion, the Orendain Ollitas is a much better tequila. To confuse things even more, if you check the NOM both bottles are produced at 1110 - the Tequila Orendain facility.

                        So why the price difference? I'm guessing its because until very recently Orendain (the company) sold their mixto in the U.S. using plain bottles and the brand "Orendain" (and Pepe Lopez & Puerto Vallarta, ick!) and they sold "Don Eduardo" as their premium brand in a fancy bottle. So the U.S. public doesn't associate the name Orendain with quality...yet.

                        If they are produced at the same factory, why the taste difference? Well, it could be a number of factors. Agave from different fields. Orendain has both autoclaves and hornitas for baking the agave so maybe that's it. Or it could be the size and/or type of barrels they use for aging. Who knows? All I know is that I prefer the Orendain Ollitas and its way cheaper than the Don Eduardo - hurray for me!

                        Now if you're still reading, let me tell you about the other deal I got - Carmessi Reposado 375ml for $22.99 (at Internet Wines & Spirits its $41.66). Carmessi has only been sold in the U.S. market for a short time. Its NOM is 1103 which is Casa San Matias. They also make Rey Sol (considered one of the best tequilas available), San Matias and Pueblo Viejo tequilas. Carmessi was developed as their "lady's" brand, its wonderfully smooth and delicious. This is a great gift tequila because if the person doesn't care for it straight, well, its a small bottle & they can use it for margaritas (or you can steal it back).

                        FYI - I wiped out Colma store's Orendain Ollitas stock. But I did leave one bottle of Carmessi.

                        1. re: Pssst

                          Followup question regarding "Hornitas" in relation to tequila...

                          "Hornitos" is the diminutive form of the Spanish for "oven." But what is "Hornitas?" I see it on tequila bottles, but haven't been able to find a definition of the word; it doesn't show up in any of the Spanish dictionaries or translators that I have tried.

                    2. re: Pssst

                      Probably meant Sauza Hornitos which is 100% agave and about $24 for 750 ml.

                      Someonw else mentioned Cazadores which is excellent and can be had (if you can find it) for $19 or so.

                      1. re: StriperGuy

                        Cazadores is my favorite margarita tequila.

                      2. re: Pssst

                        While I would agree that Sauza Silver/Plata and Sauza Gold aren't really worth recommending, I think Sauza Hornitos (their 100% agave reposado) is a pretty good buy in the $25 range. Generally I would rather spend a little extra for El Tesoro Reposado, but it's harder to find in my area, and I don't always have the extra money.

                        1. re: Pssst

                          Very Important to remember the 100% Agave. If it doesn't say it, the other 49% is often a mixture of water and some form of sugar along with other stuff, which results in the hangover and stomachache.

                          As for mixing tequila, I guess I'm just a purist, unless it's in a margarita, I think tequila is only meant to be had straight up, sip it like any other liquor, take it in a shotglass but don't drink it all at once; enjoy the tequila. The salt and lime are an americanized thing I think, not really necessary with good tequila.

                          Personally I reccommend Don Julio, it's somewhere between $30 and $45, or at least it was a month or two ago. They have it both as silver and otherwise, I highly reccommend it in any form.

                          1. re: hungry_fox

                            The 49% is a sugar-water made most of the time with sugar, all though some companies will use fructose and before the non process sugar was used, although now it is not usual because it is much more expensive… Always look fro 100% agave azul on the label…

                            I like Don Julio very much, 100% blue agave, the good stuff… other 100% blue agave tequilas to try are Chinaco, Casa Noble, Tesoro and Centinela.

                        2. re: Fydeaux

                          It (Sauza Silver) is pretty decent straight in a pinch. The Sauza family makes good stuff. Tres Generaciaones is our standard anejo with a couple other tequila families around for different occasions.