Here at RAVE, we love all sorts of tequila.
But we have a special place in our hearts for blancos, sometimes called white or silver tequilas. Blanco tequilas are some of the purest spirits in the world. One sip and it hits your brain like lightning. For the very best blanco tequila, look no further than Don Julio Blanco.
For some, tequila gets a bad rep.
We’ve all been there: Downing whatever ill-advised shot of cut-rate tequila, served to you in the wee hours after a long night of sampling other libations. It can definitely lead to a skull-splitting headache the morning after.
But this just means you haven’t had the right tequila. When you’re sipping one of the best tequilas, it’s a heavenly experience. RAVE Reviews wants to help you find the right blanco to set you on the path of being a lifelong tequila lover.
The Blanco Tequilas We RAVE About
Best Top Shelf: Casa Dragones Tequila Blanco
If you think it’s silly to spend this much money on a blanco, you obviously haven’t tried Casa Dragones Tequila Blanco. The ultimate sipping tequila, the Casa Dragones is as sophisticated as an Añejo, delivering the true essence of agave.Read Full Review
Best Mid-Shelf: Don Julio Blanco
Whether room temperature, chilled, or on the rocks, Don Julio Blanco is smooth and clean. Try it on its own or with a mixer, and experience the sweet aroma of honey and grass alongside a little fresh pear. It all makes Don Julio Blanco a solid mid-shelf choice.Read Full Review
Best Budget: Espolòn Blanco
Created in the famed hills of Los Altos, Espolòn Blanco is blanco tequila in its purest form. Double distilled using column and pot stills, the Espolòn Blancoo is perfectly smooth with a balanced taste profile. This is definitely the best budget tequila around.Read Full Review
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A Brief History of Tequila
Tequila was first produced in the 16th century near what is now the city of Tequila.
A fermented beverage made from the agave plant, tequila is a type of mezcal. The distinction between mezcal and tequila is this: Tequila must only use blue agave, while mezcal can use any type of agave.
Mexican law mandates that tequila can only be produced in the state of Jalisco and limited municipalities in the states of Guanajuato, Michoacán, Nayarit, and Tamaulipas.
The beverage is commonly served neat in Mexico and as a shot with salt around the world.
Tequila is most often made at a 38% alcohol content (76 U.S. proof) for domestic consumption. However, it can be produced between 31 and 55% alcohol content (62 and 110 U.S. proof).
Blanco tequilas are unaged, and bottled or stored immediately after distillation. But sometimes they’re aged less than 2 months in stainless steel or neutral oak barrels.
Since blancos are usually unaged, they tend to have stronger flavors than other varieties of tequila. The bold flavors of distilled agave hit the drinker up front, like a jolt of electricity helping to put your world in order.
If you’ve had bad experiences with tequila, it’s likely because many knockoffs tequilas have nearly as much sugar in them as agave. The only real tequila is 100% agave, so don’t settle for less.
Tequila and the Worm: Don’t Fall for the Gimmick
Adding worms or scorpions to a tequila bottle is nothing more than a marketing gimmick. Don’t fall for it.
In fact, the tequila regulatory council does not allow gusanos or scorpions (which are sometimes also added to mezcals) to be included in tequila bottles.
Here are some other tips for enjoying your tequila experience:
- Avoid anything aged over 4 years. Many tequila experts believe that aging the spirit for longer than 4 years will degrade the agave flavors.
- Don’t shoot tequila, sip it. Breathe in the aromas. Let the flavors open up. Best results come from a tasting glass or snifter.
- Pair it with food. We recommend tacos with slow cooked beef, chipotle chilies, tomatoes, white onion, and chorizo.
- Look out for “ice-cold chilled” on the bottle. Chilling any alcohol reduces smells and flavors associated with a lower-quality product. High-quality tequilas are typically best enjoyed at room temperature.
Fans of Bloody Marys can try tequila instead of vodka. Or instead of a gin and tonic, try a paloma with tequila and grapefruit soda. Enjoy it over ice.
Other popular tequila cocktails include the margarita, made most commonly with tequila, Cointreau, and lime juice.
Also be sure to try tequila martini variants, a Tequila Sunrise (tequila, orange juice, and grenadine), or the Matador (blanco tequila, pineapple juice, and lime juice).
In some regions of Mexico, it is popular to drink fine tequila with a side of sangrita. Sangrita is a sweet, sour, and spicy drink typically made from orange juice, grenadine (or tomato juice), and hot chili.
Enjoyed this way, equal-sized shots of tequila and sangrita are sipped alternately, without salt or lime.
Another popular drink in Mexico is the bandera. Named after the flag of Mexico, a bandera consists of three shot glasses: lime juice (for the green), white tequila, and sangrita (for the red).
Outside Mexico, a single shot of tequila is commonly served with salt and a slice of lime. However, drinking tequila with salt and lime is likely to remove much of the flavor.
Walk into any bar or liquor store, and there will likely be some blanco tequila. But truly great blanco tequila is hard to find.
To come up with this list, we combed through hundreds of reviews from everyday drinkers as well as tequila experts and connoisseurs. We spoke with bartenders and passionate tequila aficionados, and we even sampled some tequila ourselves. (For science.)
As we examined the offerings from dozens of different brands and distilleries, here’s what we were looking for:
- Price point
- Distillery of origin
- Distinctive or unusual flavor notes
- Whether the tequila was best suited to sipping, mixing, or both
Best Blanco Tequilas
Don Julio BlancoPrice: $45
The Don Julio distillery uses Highland agaves, steam-cooked for 72 hours. The cooked agave is crushed, allowing the aquamiel (honey water) to be collected, fermented, and then double-distilled in stainless steel pot-stills.
Don Julio Blanco is then bottled immediately afterward without further resting or aging.
Don Julio Blanco’s nose is bright with the aroma of fresh agave supported by lemon and grapefruit. On the palate, experience pear and citrus peel. These flavors persist through the finish, before the agave returns along with notes of pepper.
Fans of Don Julio Blanco love to use it as an ingredient in refreshing cocktails like mojitos and margaritas, with champagne, or on the rocks. And the tequila also compliments many Mexican recipes.
- Citrus flavors
- Pepper undertones
- Ideal for mixing
- No resting or aging
Tequila Ocho PlataPrice: $70
With a delightful sweetness and citrus quality, this is one of our favorite sipping tequilas.
Enjoy a sweetly floral nose with notes of extra ripe agaves and candied fruit. There’s citrus, cinnamon, dried fruit, and almond on the palate. Wait for a touch of spearmint on the finish.
Try it neat, and feel very little burn. Pouring over ice brings out the vanilla and spice flavors. Notice the sweetness with a pinch of pepper and other earthy flavors.
Overall, the Ocho Plata is best sipped neat. But it can also be used as a base for cocktails, especially mixes that bring out the spiciness.
- Grassy and vanilla nose
- Full-body mouthfeel
- Medium to mild agave notes
- Higher-end price point
Herradura SilverPrice: $44
From one of its region’s largest distilleries, Herradura is made from agaves traditionally roasted in clay ovens and fermented with ambient yeast.
Notice Herradura Silver’s unusual greenish-straw color. This comes from a relatively brief 45-day aging period in well-seasoned American oak barrels.
And while the Herradura is not aged long enough to be considered a reposado, there are distinct wood-derived notes as well as a raw, vegetal character.
The tequila offers notes of black pepper, coriander, and sandalwood. Herradura is bold and sweet with hints of coconut, dill, and nutmeg. Vanilla wins on the palate and cinnamon accents the finish.
If you’re making a citrus-based mixed drink, consider the Herradura.
- Versatile cocktail choice
- Ideal for sweeter tastes
- Mid-range alcohol content
- Aged longer than many blancos
Cazadores Tequila BlancoPrice: $34
Completely unaged, Cazadores Tequila Blanco is made from agave 100% sourced from the highlands of Jalisco.
Like some winemakers, the makers of Cazadores Tequila Blanco have adopted the practice of playing classical music around the clock during fermentation. This is thought to give the final product an air of sophistication. Will you notice?
The stag on the bottle references the word “Cazadores,” which translates to “hunters.”
The tequila is rich, offering aromas of fresh agave as well as bright lemon zest, and even some notes of rosemary, thyme, and sage.
On the palate, experience intense black pepper notes and mild hints of salinity. This is all chased by bright citrus and sweet flavors like pink grapefruit and lemon pith.
This finish has a hint of fresh-cut grass and watermelon rind.
We recommend sipping Cazadores Blanco along with a great meal, or as a solid base for any tequila cocktail.
- Completely unaged
- Peppery flavor upfront
- Ideal for sipping
- Mid-range price point
Casa Dragones Tequila BlancoPrice: $90
Instead of the traditional method of roasting and crushing the agave to extract the juices and sugars, Casa Dragones Tequila Blanco’s method of manufacturing is thoroughly modern.
To make this 100% blue agave tequila, raw agave is sent to a diffusor to extract the starches with hot water.
After being distilled multiple times in a column still, Casa Dragones Tequila Blanco is then filtered through an “ultra-modern” filtration system.
On the nose, there are sweet and herbaceous notes, particularly mint and something earthy, close to tree bark. The sweetness hits the palate early, but then there’s a slightly bitter and musky finish.
Fairly neutral in flavor, Casa Dragones Tequila Blanco is highly recommended for the entry-level tequila enthusiast.
- Neutral tasting
- Ideal sipping tequila
- Mid-range price
- Non-traditional distillation process
Lunazul Blanco TequilaPrice: $21
Lunazul Blanco Tequila is literally made in the town of Tequila – you can’t get much more authentic than that. The agave for this tequila is grown at the Beckmann family-owned Tierra de Agaves estate.
Lunazul Blanco Tequila is bottled unaged. The agave, however, is matured for 7 to 9 years in the field before being transported directly to the distillery. There, the agave is twice distilled in custom cognac stills.
High-energy, light and citrusy, this tequila goes down smooth. Notice the fresh agave flavors as they mix with notes of vanilla sugar, orange, grapefruit, and lime. And it all ends on a grassy and slightly smoky note.
We recommend sipping Lunazul Blanco Tequila neat. But this tequila is also at just the right price point for mixing in cocktails.
- Let breath before serving
- Completely unaged
- Family farm-grown agaves
- Recommended for margaritas
Tres Agaves Tequila BlancoPrice: $35
First released in 2010, Tres Agaves Tequila Blanco is made with blue weber agave harvested from the Tequila Valley region in Jalisco.
Piñas, or agave hearts, are baked in a stainless-steel oven before being crushed. The agave juice is then twice distilled in a pot still before the tequila is immediately bottled at 40% ABV.
Tres Agaves Tequila Blanco is relatively mild and restrained, with just the slightest hint of straw color and an aroma that is inviting, warm, and herbaceous. And there is also the faint aroma of campfire smoke.
It is light-bodied on the palate, with savory notes of citrus and saline. The tequila features strong yet sweet notes of agave, helping it go down smooth if you choose to sip it.
We suggest pairing Tres Agaves Tequila Blanco with food. However, Tres Agaves is also appropriate for mixing in margaritas.
- Twice distilled
- Mild flavor
- Affordably priced for the quality
Maestro Dobel Silver TequilaPrice: $58
This multi-award-winning brand focuses on smoothness. Bottled directly after being double distilled, Maestro Dobel Silver Tequila is a nuanced, sophisticated option.
Notice the aromas of citrus as well as rich cooked agave on the first sip. You may also taste butter, olive, earth, black pepper, and an inviting, deep vegetal complexity.
Other flavors include vanilla, basil, and lime. The finish is long and deep. Overall, Maestro Dobel Silver Tequila is nuanced, yet easy to drink.
Maestro Dobel Silver is ideal to accompany any food pairing, or to mix in your favorite cocktail.
- Best served with food
- Buttery flavor
Espolòn BlancoPrice: $18
How many distillers play rock music to their vats of fermenting agave in order to “inspire” the yeast?
Cirilo Oropeza does. And the result is Espolòn Blanco, an appealing, light-bodied blanco.
Sweet, energetic, and straightforward, Espolòn Blanco is smooth and easy to drink.
On the nose, experience nice bright cayenne and terra cotta notes without any brininess on the palate.
Clear of color and fiery, Espolòn Blanco offers aromas of scorched agave, dried oregano, moss, and silt with a satiny, crisp, dry body. And the finish is hot, with a hint of burnt orange.
Espolòn Blanco is a pleasant drink for a first-time tequila drinker on a budget. It’s also a reliable, go-to blanco for mixed drinks at your next party.
- Accessible flavors
- Entry-level price
Camarena SilverPrice: $19
The budget-priced Camarena Silver is distilled by the Camarena family, who have been planting and harvesting agave in the Jalisco Highlands since 1860.
The agaves are slow roasted in traditional stone ovens for several days before the juices are fermented and distilled.
Camarena Silver is clear with a pure, platinum sheen and notes of fresh green herbs and rich toasted agave.
The aromas are sweet and fruity with flavors of fresh pear, pineapple husk, grilled honeydew melon, and desert grasses.
At first sip, Camarena Silver is gentle and smooth on the palate. And the body is light, silky, crisp, and dry with a warm finish recalling marshmallow, salt water taffy, and ground black pepper.
The Camarena Silver is a fresh and fruity take on blanco tequila, ideal for sipping or for summer cocktails.
- Silky and crisp
- Ideal mixer
- Budget price
Here are some commonly asked questions for the first-time tequila drinker. Whether you’re looking to unwind with a sipping tequila, or make some margaritas for your house guests, use this information to make your tequila-drinking experience even more enjoyable.
What are the types of tequila?
Silver – Blanco – Plata – White – Platinum
This type of tequila is the blue agave spirit in its purest form, where the true flavors and the intensity of the agave are present.
Blanco tequila is generally bottled directly after distillation, or stored in stainless steel tanks to settle for up to 4 weeks.
Blanco products that are aged for up to 2 months provide a smoother spirit, sometimes referred to as “Suave.”
Gold – Joven – Oro
Sometimes referred to as mixtos, these tequilas are used in many restaurants and bars for mixed drinks. Colorants and flavorings have been added prior to bottling this tequila. These “young and adulterated” tequilas are less expensive than other varieties.
Sometimes, however, “Gold” or “Joven” Tequila can be silver tequila blended with a reposado and/or añejo tequila. These golds keep the 100% agave classification.
With a golden hue and a flavor balancing agave and wood, a reposado tequila is in the first stage of “rested and aged.” Tequila is aged in wood barrels or storage tanks between 2 months and 11 months.
Añejo tequila is aged for at least one year, but no more than 3 years. It’s typically darker in color than a reposado, ranging into a deep mahogany hue that you might find in a cognac or brandy.
Añejos typically have the most complex and nuanced flavors of all the different types of tequila.
What is the best sipping tequila?
As we mentioned earlier, making good tequila takes time and a lot of effort. It’s best to slow down and enjoy it. Here are our picks for some of the best sipping blancos on the market.
Tequila Ocho Plata
Made with blue agave and best enjoyed neat, Tequila Ocho Plata is aged for just over 8 weeks in ex-American whiskey barrels. Sip it and enjoy a refreshing and clean flavor.
Known for incredible quality, Casa Dragones has a perfectly balanced flavor profile of pear, spice, and vanilla. This is one of the best sipping tequilas to enjoy year-round.
What is the best tequila for shots?
Shooting tequila can go one of 2 ways: It can either turn you off of tequila forever, or you can find a bracing, head-clearing ritual. Here are three of the very best blancos to shoot.
This agave-forward tequila is crisp, fresh, and smooth on the nose with notes of refreshing citrus and spicy black pepper on the finish. It’s best served chilled with a slice of lime to bring out the tequila’s vegetal side.
Don Julio Blanco Tequila
This silver tequila is a great go-to shot. A citrusy burst of lemon, lime, and grapefruit hits your nose, followed by a sweet, light flavor and a grassy finish.
What is the purest tequila?
With fewer calories than beer and wine, tequila is considered by some to have positive health effects. In particular, tequila is ideal for celiac sufferers or those looking to go gluten-free.
Blanco tequila is the purest type of tequila. Made with 100% agave, it is more pure than aged tequilas like reposados, or mixed tequilas that include other types of sugars, like mixtos.
No tequila experience is complete without these tequila-drinking accessories.
No tequila experience is complete without these tequila-drinking accessories.