Distiller’s Agave Spirits Gift Guide 2023By Stephanie Moreno
It’s gift giving season once again so that means it’s also time for our Holiday Gift Guides! As is the case each year, we’ve done the “tough” part of tasting to make our recommendations. To make your shopping excursions a bit easier, we’ve organized our lists by category and price. Furthermore, we’ve made suggestions on who on your shopping lists we thought the picks would best suit.
For our agave gift guide you can expect to see tequila and mezcal bottlings, both aged and unaged. But we had to include something outside the box for our top unconventional pick that is not made from agave, but fits the spirit of the list. On the whole, most of our picks are widely available without any super rare releases suggested. Also, in addition to agave releases that are new for 2023, we’ve also included some core expressions you can find year-round.
Please note that prices listed for our Agave Gift Guide are the suggested retail price (SRP) for purchases in the US. Of course, prices may vary depending on your location. Happy shopping!
Budget Agave Picks (Under $40)
Astral Tequila Reposado
What to Know: Astral Tequila uses a stone wheel called a tahona to crush its agave. Then the agave fibers are added to the fermentation process for added flavor.
Tasting Notes: Vegetal and citrus aromas lead to roasted agave, toasted spices and honeyed sweet flavors
Best gift for: A friend looking to stock their home bar with a crowd pleaser
Beginner Agave Picks (Under $50)
What to Know: Ilegal Mezcal started as a spirit that was smuggled from Mexico to Guatemala and shared among friends at a tiny bar called Café No Sé. It’s made from espadín agave and is bottled unaged.
Tasting Notes: Strong vegetal and tropical fruit notes combine with a deep smoke flavor
Best Gift for: Your younger sibling looking to graduate from shots to sips.
Aficionado Agave Picks (Under $150)
What to Know: Traditionally, the puntas (or distiller’s cut) is set aside for the distiller to enjoy with their friends and family. For this 2023 release, two high proof cuts were blended and then proofed to 106.
Tasting Notes: Fresh green agave, west stones, and tropical fruits lead to a light sweetness with a gentle heat
Best Gift for: A loved one who prefers obscure finds rather than the most popular labels
Splurge Agave Picks (Over $150)
What to Know: For maturation, the brand worked with an independent cooperage in Japan who custom crafted the rare Japanese Mizunara oak casks used here. The tequila was rested exclusively in these casks and then bottled at 80 proof.
Tasting Notes: Mizunara oak provides a gentle toasted, cedar-like profile while the herbaceous agave notes still shine
Best Gift for: Your significant other who is growing their agave collection.
Agave Picks for Mixing Cocktails
Del Maguey VIDA Puebla
What to Know: . While the classic VIDA bottling is made in San Luis del Rio, Oaxaca, this mezcal is made at a new palenque in Axocopan, Puebla. The agave hearts are roasted in an underground oven (horno) and then naturally fermented.
Tasting Notes: Clay, cooked vegetables and earthy notes combine with tropical fruits, cooked agave and a moderate amount of smoke
Best gift for: Your co-worker who likes to shake things up!
Unconventional Agave Picks
What to Know: Wild-grown Dasylirion is harvested from the brand’s family-owned property in Chihuahua, Mexico for this bottling. After harvest, the plant is cooked for 72-96 hours, crushed and then fermented for a week in open-air wooden vats before copper still distillation.
Tasting Notes: A mixed bag of earthy and savory flavors such as green leaves, roasted peppers, earthy clay and a touch of rubber with just a whisper of smoke
Best Gift for: Your best friend with an adventurous spirit