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Inexpensive Tequilla - NICE!

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Just spotted these very reasonably priced 100% agave tequilas at the local package store:

El espolon 20 <---- i think this is a nice product
Camarena 25
El jimador 20
Azul by centenario 21
El charro 19
El Cazadores was around 20
Corzo was on closeout for 19.99 in all 3 varieties <----not a fan

They also got in Sauza Blue which is the low end 100% agave line. Think it was around $20

Not so long ago, a reasonably priced 100% agave was impossible to find. At these price points there isnt really any excuse to get a mixto.

Have the trend chasers moved on? There seems to be a sudden increase in trendy expensive Ryes...

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  1. I have a bottle of Azul reposado on my bar at the moment. I like Centenario products so gave this a try. It has a nice fresh taste and was easy to sip neat. Well it seems most things are easy for me to sip neat these days.

    I am currently sipping a Bowman's single barrel rye. Not cheap :( I never thought of myself as a trend chaser :((

    1. At my local Sam's Club, it carries a house brand 100 percent agave tequila called Calle Azul Anejo for $15.91, which is an excellent at the sub-$20 price point. Sam's also carries Jose Cuervo Tradicional [sp?] for $20.99, which is a nice bottle at the $20 price point.

      1. My favorite in that price range is El Ultimo Agave - the blanco is $20 in NC ($17 this month) but is around $13 in the Atlanta area. The repo and anejo can be had for under $20 in Atl (N/A in NC though) and are also good, a little on the sweet side but a lot of agave taste and quite sippable neat.

        30-30 repo is $20 here, also very good - not as much agave taste as the El Ultimo but smooth with some chocolate and coffee taste, reminiscent of Don Julio Repo.

        Not a fan of El Jimador, El Charro was OK for the $14 I paid but I would not buy it again unless El Ultimo was not available.

        I tried a small sample of Corzo silver once and thought it was pretty good, but this was after a spicy dinner and my palate was not anywhere near fresh.

        Everyone seems to love Espolon, I find it kind of overly smooth and bland, though nothing unpleasant about it. Reminds me a lot of Patron at half the price.

        I have bottles of Camarena blanco and repo, I liked them at first but the more I have tried them the less I am a fan. Both have estery noses and some off flavors, though not really bad - just not as good as some of the others in that price range.

        I have yet to try Cazadores or Azul, but at those prices I would definitely bite. Given my experiences with anything by Sauza (namely Hornitos) I would likely pass on that.

        1. I would add Luna Azul to that list. It's usually $20 and I've seen it as low as $16 in New Hampshire state liquor stores.
          Right now our house inexpensive one is Espolon (one of which we bought, the other we were sent).
          The one that is appearing a lot in Boston bars is Zapopan (around $18?). It tastes fine in cocktails. Would have to taste straight to get a better appreciation of it, but it seems a bit less vegetal and interesting than others.


          2 Replies
          1. re: yarm

            I think you mean Lunazul not Luna Azul. I had a bottle of the repo and didn't like it at all, it had a soapy sour taste. Judging by how many people do like it I suspect I might have gotten a bottle from a bad batch,

            1. re: ncyankee101

              I'm also fond of Lunazul Repo. Just paid $16 for it at Wegman's. Buy two and there's a $15 mail-in rebate. Can't beat that.

          2. I'm a fan of Espolon. I'd also add Hacienda Vieja to the list which is essentially the old Cazadores tequila. When the Banuelos family sold Cazadores, they only sold the brand not the recipe. They are now making the same tequila they always did under the Hacienda Vieja name and it's very good for a tequila under $20.

            1. I got some Espolon - pretty good taste and a cute Halloweeny label. BTW you do know that it is redundant to call Tequila 100% agave? All tequila is 100% blue agave. Anything else would be called a mezcal.

              4 Replies
              1. re: kagemusha49

                I think the distinction that most are trying to make is between the mixtos [which only require 51% of the contents be sourced from blue agave plant/agave sugars and made with alcohol fermented from other (non-agave) sugars, up to 49%] and those that are made with 100% agave plant/agave sugars.

                1. re: kagemusha49

                  All Tequila is mezcal. Not all mezcal is Tequila.

                  1. re: kagemusha49

                    Tequila can only be made in a certain region of Mexico. Moreover, it can only be made with only one variety of agave (blue/webber). Mezcal can be made with blue or 27 other varieties of agave plants. There are other differences but these are the main one.


                    1. re: kagemusha49

                      No it isn't.
                      No they aren't

                    2. Espolon I think is the best buy in that price range. I'd even say that it "punches above it's weight" in that I'd put it up against a lot of tequilas twice it's price.

                      I preferred the old bottle with the embossed foil label, but I'm happy to trade of the new packaging for the fact that I no longer have to have someone bring it back from Mexico for me.

                      8 Replies
                      1. re: khuzdul

                        Espolon has changed NOMs along with the bottle styles and according to those who have long been a fan the new juice is nothing like the old juice. 9of course it IS roughly half the price it used to be.) That is also the case with many old classics such as 1921.

                        I've only been into Tequila for about a year now but I hate the feeling that I missed out on the heyday of many brands that have have changed NOMs or production methods and experienced a drop in quality - Herradura for instance in 2002. Apparently even Patron was very good when it was made by the 7 Leguas tequileria, and that brand is on my list to try.

                        I did acquire a very interesting new low priced bottle - Don Sergio, which is sold primarily in Total Wine stores in states that are privatized. The Blanco was $20 and it is a lowland Tequila very similar to Casa Noble in nose and flavor profile. I haven't done them side-by-side and I doubt it is nearly as complex, but for the $20 I paid for this I will definitely be getting more when I have the chance.

                        1. re: ncyankee101

                          That is interesting. I don't have an old-label embossed foil Mexico domestic bottle around, but I I do have some pictures of old bottles/labels. Even through the rebranding, the NOM of the bottles that I have had, both Mexico luggage imports and old US distributor, as well as the bottles that currently are on my shelf with the current packaging with a US distributor has remained constant - NOM 1440, San Nicholas, which incidentally is the same distillery as Cabo Wabo. YMMV, but it's been consistant for me...

                          1. re: khuzdul

                            Oops I was wrong about the change in NOM but the consensus on the Tequila.net forum (among those who had old and new bottles to compare) seems to be that it was not what it once was - note the in depth comparison in post 17 (this forum displays its threads oldest-to-newest for some reason)


                            1. re: khuzdul

                              Khuzdul - I just noticed something interesting - my bottle of Corazon blanco (older style with the long neck) says NOM 1440, while it is listed on Tequila.net as 1103 - I assume it changed NOM with bottle style.

                              1. re: ncyankee101

                                That is interesting. My "old style" blanco, anejo and reposado long neck bottles of Corazon are all 1440 as well. It was the brand that introduced me to non-mixer quality tequila and so had been one of my favourites.

                                1. re: khuzdul

                                  Corazon was the first blanco I had that I found to have a lot of agave taste and enjoyed sipping neat - I had Patron before which is easy to sip but I find it bland and boring. I haven't checked the NOM on the newer bottles to verify a change, just going by what is on tequila.net - I have been told that brand has been through a few NOMs in its time.

                                  Since then I have bought bottles of a few of the best blancos around - among them Casa Noble and Siete Leguas (upon whose quality Patron was built, before it got too big and started it's own tequileria.) Asom Broso is interesting. I just missed the chance to get some 1921 NOM 1079 which is legendary.

                                  I am picking up a couple bottles of Cuervo Platino this week when I go to PA for Thanksgiving, it was being closed out at half price there, looking foward to that.
                                  I would love to get my hands on some Fortaleza or Fina Estampa but they are hard to find and rather pricey.

                                  1. re: khuzdul

                                    Well Khuzdul - I finally got hold of a bottle of the new 1103 corazon. I have a little of the old bottle left, and plan to compare them side by side once the new one has had a little time to air out.

                                    The good news is my first tasting is promising. It still has the very agave-forward spicy flavor that I remember liking in the first bottle, though perhaps a little more earthiness than I remember.

                                    I went ahead and got the whole lineup since Hitime wine has such great prices on them - $20, $23 and $25 for the blanco, repo and anejo.

                                2. re: khuzdul


                                  I had the opportunity to try some of the old-style treasure Espolon with the metal foil label - and though I didn't have any newer stuff to try side-by-side, I would say there is no comparison between the two. This one had much more agave then the newer bottle I have at home.

                                  I've heard some people talk about the intense agave flavor in the new Espolon, I suspect when they started using the new bottles they still had some of the old juice. My friend who is a total tequila freak said he noticed a distinct difference between the first and second bottles he bought of the new style. He found the espo treasure bottles in Texas and Las vegas while travelling.

                            2. I have recently come across some very inexpensive tequilas that are not just palatable, but excellent, among the best I have had. They are not widely available, and most likely will require you to order from out of state, but are well worth it.

                              I tried some Herencia mexicana blanco, from the legendary NOM 1079. This comes in a very nice handblown bottle, and according to Hitime's website was originally priced at $60, but it is not a closeout at the current price of $20. It is outstanding and I immediately ordered a couple bottles and moved it into my top 5 blancos, along with casa noble, Cuervo Platino, fortaleza and Siete Leguas.

                              I also recently opened a bottle of Don Celso Reposado, for which I paid $21. It has been rated the #1 reposado by the beverage tasting institute, which immediately made me skeptical because I have found their ratings to be hit and miss - but in this case they were spot on, this is an excellent reposado.

                              Muchote reposado is also outstanding for $25, and came highly recommended by the tequila aficionados at tequila.net.

                              I've also seen Corazon blanco in the $16-20 range, I recently got a bottle from the newer NOM 1103 and though it is not as refined a sipper as some of the better blancos, it might have the most aggressive sweet agave presence of any tequila I have had, and is an outstanding mixer.

                              1. The Agavales blanco is 100% agave and pretty darned respectable for $23 for 1.75L here in MA.

                                5 Replies
                                1. re: StriperGuy

                                  I got a bottle of the Agavales (NOM 1438) for $10/750 and have to say though it is a good deal for the money, I don't love it as a sipper - OK for mixing though.

                                  Apparently they switched NOMs at some point, used to be 1416 which is a very good pedigree, and upon which I think it built its reputation.

                                  Now it is 1438 - same as the Don Sergio I got from Total wine, and the taste is a dead ringer. I liked it at first, but it has an odd chemical taste that I have never encountered in another tequila, and eventually got very tired of it.

                                  What is the NOM on your bottle?

                                  1. re: ncyankee101

                                    Hmmmm, I'll have to check. I use it for Margs mostly...

                                    1. re: StriperGuy

                                      The unusual taste does make it an interesting mixer, for some variety, but it quickly fatigues your palate when you try to drink it neat.

                                      1. re: ncyankee101

                                        Just checked, 1438 on both bottles I have, gold and silver.

                                        Just tried gold for the first time on the rocks. Honestly better than the silver. Not at all bad on the rocks.

                                        Great bang for the buck this stuff.

                                        1. re: StriperGuy

                                          I didn't consider it a rebuy at $18 with the Don Sergio label, but I would probably get more for $10, although I like the Tenampa azul blanco better - I got 3 bottles of it last year for $9, though the best price I have seen for it lately is $13.

                                          It's funny that I didn't like the Tenampa at first, it has an unusual flavor, but it grew on me - while the opposite happened with the Don Sergio blanco.