Someone recently plagiarized one of my articles. As I was poking around their blog I found an article they had written about the best tequila brands to buy in Mexico. I couldn’t believe what I was reading. Why would you recommend traveling all the way to Mexico only to buy commercial tequila brands that use diffusers and artificial flavoring, and are available in nearly every market across the planet?
Jalisco is home to most of Mexico’s tequila and is the best place to tour artisanal distilleries and the blue agave fields. There are dozens of small tequila brands that do not have celebrity influencers or large marketing departments promoting their tequila. Many of these small tequila manufacturers make tequila for their friends, family, and community.
I have another article dedicated to the different types of tequila and all these tequilas are about the craft. They are all made from 100% blue agave sugars, they do not use diffusers and are certified free of artificial flavorings. Many of these tequila brands are looking back to recipes and production methods of historic record.
It would be a shame to come all the way to Mexico only to buy the same bottle sold at your local gas station.
Where To Buy Tequila In Mexico
The best place to buy tequila is directly from the distillery or from the manufacturer. Before flying to the United States I always make a run to the Cascahuin factory store in Downtown Guadalajara. They have the best prices and if there are special editions on the market, the factory store is the best place to find them.
The second best place to buy tequila is Tequilas El Buho in Tlaquepaque, Jalisco. Tlaquepaque is famous for tequila stores with a staggering number of tequila brands in stock. El Buho is the best. The people are sincerely excited to talk about tequila, swap stories, and make honest recommendations on tequilas to buy and distilleries to visit.
The worst place to buy a bottle of tequila is at the Guadalajara airport. The airport is outrageously expensive. They have a nice selection of quality tequilas but they cost twice what they do at a regular liquor store. Make sure to plan your tequila purchases in advance.
NOM 1123 El Arenal, Jalisco (Los Valles)
Tequila Cascahuin is the cult favorite tequila in Jalisco. The serious agave enthusiasts – this includes bartenders, distillery reps, and my mother-in-law – all recommend Cascahuin.
This is a tequila for tequila lovers. It is a small, family-run distillery that was founded in 1955 but the Rosales family has been making tequila for generations since 1904. The name Cascahuin comes from prehispanic roots and is interpreted as Cerro de Luz or party in the hills. There is a nice view of the Tequila Volcano from the Cascahuin property in El Arenal, Jalisco
All of their tequilas are excellent. I served the least expensive bottle of 38% ABV Cascahuin tequila blanco at my son’s baptism to rave reviews from the family. My wife has a lot of family from Mexico City and they love tequila. However, in Mexico City, they drink all the commercial brands. They don’t have the same variety of tequilas that we have in Jalisco.
There was a little bit of skepticism when the gringo showed up with cases of inexpensive tequila blanco that nobody had ever heard of. I heard more than once about someone’s preference for Maestro Dobel. I won them all over and there has been a great tequila awakening in the family.
Now, every time we go to Mexico City we bring half a case of artisanal tequilas by request. Tequila Cascahuin is one of the best gifts you can bring back from Mexico. Every tequila drinker will love it.
The inexpensive line of tequilas is excellent. The least expensive bottle of 38% ABV Cascahuin tequila blanco costs MX$360 at the factory store and a little bit more at other retail establishments.
If you really want to style someone out, then a bottle of the Cascahuin Tahona will accomplish that goal. That bottle costs MX$860 at the factory store. If you are a collector and happen to come across a bottle of a special edition like the 11Brix 53% ABV or the Cerro de Luz 49% ABV, they are going to impress the hard-core tequila lovers out there.
The Cascahuin Distillery is open to tours Monday thru Saturday. Reservations are recommended. A general tour costs MX$100. A tour and tasting starts at MX$300 per person for the blanco, reposado, and añejo flight. The tour plus premium tasting costs MX$420 and is the cheapest tasting of ultra-premium tequilas you can find the Valles Region. They recommend booking a tour 10 days in advance. Send them an email at info (@) tequilacascahuin.com
2. Los Abuelos
NOM 1493 Tequila, Jalisco (Los Valles)
Tequila Los Abuelos is the same tequila distillery and the exact same tequila that is sold as Tequila Fortaleza in the United States. Tequila Los Abuelos is just the Mexican branding that can not be sold in the US because of copyright issues.
You are going to hear a lot of people say that Tequila Fortaleza is the best tequila out there, and there is a lot of data to back that up. The Fortaleza distillery is the number 1 rated distillery on Tequila Match Maker, the authority on such matters today.
The owner is the most OG tequila guy on the planet. Guillermo Erickson Sauza helped set in motion the newest wave of artisanal tequila. In the face of corporate tequila and artificial flavorings, he wanted to make the best quality tequila like it was made 100 years ago. He buys the best agaves, everything is stone ground with a tahona, and they take their time to cook, ferment, and distill an amazing beverage.
Guillermo has an interesting story. He comes from a multigenerational tequila family: Los Sauza. His people helped to develop the style of mezcal de Tequila over the course of more than a hundred years. They were a part of the movement to protect the name “Tequila” as it is used for distilled agave spirit with the appellation of origin.
In the 1970s, the Tequila Sauza brand was sold to a foreign company. The Sauza family maintained their lands and got some money but the grandkids no longer had jobs lined up in the family company.
In the 1990s Guillero moved back to Tequila, Jalisco, and started tinkering with the long-abandoned family distillery. He started making tequila that he wanted to drink and it turns out the rest of the world thinks his tequila is pretty good too.
Tequila Fortaleza doesn’t make tequila for other tequila brands or celebrity influencers. They don’t have enough capacity to make all the tequila people want to buy from them. They have four types of tequila (plus a yearly special edition) and they go easy on the oak. No additives or artificial flavors. Just ripe agave and some high-quality oak barrels.
If you really want to learn about excellent tequila it would be a memorable experience to tour the Fortaleza distillery. Tours are open to the public but must be scheduled in advance. Fortaleza is one of the most important names in Tequila making it one of the best tequilas on the market.
3. Siembra Valles
NOM 1123 El Arenal, Jalisco (Los Valles)
If you are looking for something different, then try the Siembra Valles Ancestral. This particular tequila was recommended to me by Ingrid García, bar manager at palReal Café in Guadalajara. She is an expert in all things agave and LOVES to share her knowledge of the industry. palReal Café has an excellent selection of quality tequilas if you happen to be in the neighborhood.
Siembra Valles is a part of the Siembra Spirits Group and has been a pioneering force in the push for transparency, traceability, and terroir in tequila. Siembra Valles is their expression from the Tequila Valles Region. They also produce Siembra Azul in the Altos Region of Jalisco.
There aren’t a lot of tequila makers using the pit oven cooking style. It is a time-consuming process. The oven needs six hours just to warm up and the agaves cook for five days. The cooked agaves are then crushed with clubs in an incredibly labor-intensive process. This is the epitome of small-batch, artisanal tequila using techniques that are, well, ancestral.
A bottle of the Siembra Valles Ancestral costs MX$2250 at Buho Tequilas.
4. Tequila Arette
NOM 1109 Tequila, Jalisco (Los Valles)
Tequila Arette is another excellent tequila that is made with love by a multi-generational tequila family. The El Llano Distillery is located in one of the oldest sections of Tequila next to the water supply.
Arette is one of the best value high-quality tequilas for sale in Mexico. All of their tequilas are additive-free and made for connoisseurs.
You are going to notice a lot of equestrian imagery on the bottle and at the distillery. Arette is named after a famous horse from the Tequila Valles Region that won several gold medals in the 1948 Olympics in London.
The artisanal suave blanco has been rested in large oak casks for one month. This is an excellent tequila blanco for people who prefer aged tequilas that are looking to try some blanco tequilas. It is a relatively low ABV at 38% and the resting in oak casks imparts little flavor while taking the sharp edge off of the ethanol flavor.
The Tequila Arette distillery is open for tour by appointment only. Reach out to them on the Tequila Arette Facebook Page.
NOM 1579 Jesus María, Jalisco (Los Altos Southern)
The G4 tequila is a product of the highly respected Camarena family. G4 is a reference to the four generations of knowledge and experience that goes into making this bottle. This is one of the highest-rated spirits by professional tasters on the contest circuit as well as amateur enthusiasts on Tequila Matchmaker. People love this brand of tequila.
Destileria El Pandillo is located in the municipality of Jesús María, Jalisco which is a few minutes outside of Arandas, a hub of tequila production in Mexico. The Pandillo distillery is a testament to sustainable tequila making using low-energy systems and recycling much of their machinery from the junkyard. The roller mill used to juice the cooked agave was put together from an abandoned steam roller. It functions using a 1-horse power engine.
The Camarena family is one of the most iconic names in tequila because of their legacy but more so because of their vision for the future. Water quality, biodiversity, and sustainability are all a part of the G4 legacy.
The G4 blanco 54% ABV is one of the best deals on this list. Drinking a high-proof tequila is the best way to find flaws in the manufacturing process. You will not find any in this bottle. I bought a bottle for less than MX$500 pesos at Buho Tequilas but I am thinking that was a mistake. It looks to be priced closer to MX$900 pesos everywhere else.
Keep an eye out for G4 blanco lot 12B which is fermented in giant wood vats rather than stainless steel. It has a bright green flavor of herbs and vegetal notes and will fit nicely into any collection.
6. Tequila Ocho
NOM 1474 Arandas, Jalisco (Los Altos Southern)
Tequila Ocho is one of the best tequilas in relation to price and quality. It is a tequila that is easy to find but still makes tequila nerds happy. The name Tequila Ocho is a reference to the eight kilograms of agaves needed to produce each liter of tequila. They really want to highlight the agaves used in each tequila they make.
The Camarena family has been making tequila since 1937. They and their partners are major landholders and only use agaves from their own estates. Their tequilas are all single-estate. Each bottle names the ranch where the agaves come from. It is important to remember that tequila is an agricultural product. Good agaves make good tequila.
One of the cool initiatives that Tequila Ocho is involved in is the bat-friendly project. In conjunction with UNAM University, tequila makers are working to protect bats, the natural pollinators of agaves.
Most agaves are clones. Allowing an agave to flower means the plant can not be used to make tequila. Tequila Ocho allows at least 5% of its plants to flower thus providing food for the bats and pollination for the agaves.
Too much cloning of plants is bad for genetic diversity. Protecting bats and promoting natural pollination is good for agriculture which is good for tequila. The bats are pretty cute anyways.
Tequila Ocho is a tequila that you can feel good buying. Their entire line of tequilas is excellent but try to get your hands on a bottle of their still-strength, Plata Puntas – 2021 La Ladera. That is a special bottle of tequila.
NOM 1139 Arandas, Jalisco (Los Altos Southern)
Tequila Tapatío is one of the best bottles of tequila that you can bring back from Mexico because of its price, legacy, and delicious taste. It is a bottle that is favored by older tequila drinkers who have not bought anything else in decades.
You could say that the Camarena family makes tequila for their community and that community would be really pissed off if they changed anything. They have been making Tequila Tapatío since 1937 and it doesn’t look like the label has changed much in the last 80 years.
We are going to talk more about the Camarena family, but they were some of the first people to start planting agaves in this part of Jalisco. The elevation is different, the weather is different, and the terroir is different from the volcanic Tequila Valley.
The final product is often times called floral and minerally. This is one of the best bottles of tequila to host a tasting and contrast with a bottle from the Tequila Valley.
A one-liter bottle of 40% ABV Tapatío Tequila blanco costs $600 pesos. That is the best deal on this list.
I served this bottle at my son’s baptism party alongside Cascahuin Blanco and Cascahuin Tahona. My family loved contrasting the highlands vs. the lowlands and many of them couldn’t decide which tequila they liked the most. They said they were all exceptional.
8. Siembra Azul Lidia
NOM 1414 Arandas, Jalisco (Los Altos Southern)
Siembra Azul is a treasured brand of tequila by a passionate cultural anthropologist. David Suro just published a book called Agave Spirits: The Past, Present, And Future of Mezcals. He is an icon of the industry and makes very unique agave spirits like few others.
Lidia is a special edition dedicated to David Suro’s mother and biggest supporter. It is a blend of blanco, reposado, and anejo tequila from their favorite lots. The añejo dates back to some of the very first tequila they made at this distillery.
This bottle of tequila is in short supply. Your best bet would be to head over to palReal Café in Guadalajara to taste it and inquire about a bottle.
Tequila Brands To Buy In Mexico FAQ
These are the questions that I see asked in the expat groups all the time.
How much tequila can I bring back from Mexico?
You can bring as much tequila back from Mexico as you are willing to pay taxes on.
Each traveler over the age of 21 is allowed 1 one-liter bottle with no additional taxes. The border guards are not super strict on this. I have brought back 2 750ml bottles of tequila on multiple occasions without having to pay any additional taxes.
Make sure to declare your tequila when crossing the border. I list tequila first when reading my list of things to declare: tequila, coffee, candy, among other things I got in Mexico.
What Is Next On My List?
These are the next tequilas and distilleries that I want to review:
- El Tesoro de Don Felipe
- 7 Legues Siete Décadas
- Caballito Cerrero
- El Tequileño
Final Thoughts On The Best Tequilas To Buy In Mexico
I am looking forward to continuing this list as I have the chance to visit more tequila distilleries. There are a plethora of exceptional tequilas available in Mexico that are hard to find in the rest of the world.
Try something new and see if you can visit your favorite tequila distillery while you are in town.
Thanks for reading. See you next time.