Agave Spirits to Ring in the New Year

Ringing in the new year deserves a special bottle be opened to celebrate. These tequila and mezcal bottlings are all worthy of the honor. Here’s to a great 2018!
Dec 26, 2017
  • 10
    10 Jose Cuervo Reserva de la Familia Tequila
    90
    Rich & Oily
    First released in 1995 to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the distillery, Jose Cuervo Reserva de la Familia is the world's first extra-añejo tequila. Distilled from agave hearts harvested at seven to twelve years old and then matured in both American and French oak barrels for at least 3 years, this is the ultimate expression of Jose Cuervo. Rich and flavorful, sip this neat or on the rocks.
  • 9
    9 Rey Campero Tobalá Mezcal
    90
    Earthy
    The Rey Campero line is produced primarily of wild agaves harvested and distilled in Candelaria Yegolé, Oaxaca by master mezcalero Rómulo Sánchez Parada. Tobalá is 100% agave potatorum (which takes 13 years to mature and grows at 5600 feet) roasted in earthen pits, stone ground, fermented with the aid of natural yeasts in wood casks and distilled in a copper alembic still.
  • 8
    8 Del Maguey Ibérico Mezcal
    90
    Fruity & Spicy
    This is what you get when one of the greatest minds in modern gastronomy, Chef José Andrés, and his team, ThinkFoodGroup, meets Ron Cooper, Del Maguey’s founder and his mezcalero at Santa Catarina Minas. Replacing the classic chicken breast typically used in the harvest celebration producing Pechuga mezcals, this bottling uses the highly-sought-after ham from the black-footed Ibérico pigs.
  • 7
    7 Casa Dragones Sipping Tequila Joven
    91
    Fruity & Sweet
    This joven tequila is the result of MTV and AOL co-founder Bob Pittman’s dream of making a world-class sipping tequila. Teaming up with leading tequila expert Bertha González Nieves, he settled on a unique blend of unaged spirit and an extra-aged spirit matured for five years in new American oak barrels. The two components were married together before being charcoal-filtered, in order to give the resulting spirit with the freshness and color of a blanco, but the additional layers of complexity that result from barrel aging.
  • 6
    6 Don Julio 1942 Tequila
    92
    Rich & Sweet
    Don Julio 1942 is technically an añejo as it is aged for only 2 1/2 years in used American oak barrels, though it misses the extra añejo qualification by only 6 months. 1942 is the year that Don Julio Gonzáles established his distillery, Tequila Tres Magueyes. This Highland tequila, along with their Real bottling, is distilled a 2nd time in a smaller stainless steel pot still that has a maximum capacity of 3 barrels per distillation.
  • 5
    5 Don Pilar Extra Añejo Tequila
    95
    Rich & Sweet
    Don Pilar Extra Añejo is tequila distilled from 100% blue agave grown in the Los Altos (Highlands) region of Jalisco, on five ranches owned by the distillery near the town of San José de Gracia. This Extra Añejo ages for 3 years in American white oak before it finishes an additional 4 months in French Limousin oak. Each bottle is hand-signed by distiller Don José Pilar Contreras Marquez and packaged in wooden gift boxes.
  • 4
    4 123 Organic Extra Añejo Diablito Tequila
    95
    Sweet & Rich
    "Diablito" translates to "the little devil," a play here on the phrase "the devil is in the details." The agave used in this tequila is grown using certified organic methods at 6,000 feet above sea level, in the Tierra Roja soils of the Amatitan region of Jalisco. The spirit is aged for 3 years and four months in new, lightly-charred French oak. Released annually in limited quantities.
  • 3
    3 Real Minero Barril Mezcal
    96
    Herbal & Earthy
    Real Minero is a labor of love for the Angeles family. Four generations of know-how have gone into each bottle. Father Don Lorenzo and son Eduardo produce the mezcal while Mother Dona Florentina does the bottling and daughter Graciela handles the marketing. They family produces mezcal using the method ancestral, a very rustic method of distillation utilizing clay stills and bamboo tubing. Barril is a subspecies of agave in the Karwinskii family whose piñas are tall like a palm tree. It is famous for being intensely earthy, herbal and full-bodied.
  • 2
    2 Tears of Llorona Extra Añejo Tequila
    96
    Rich & Spicy
    Germán González puts his tears and his heart into a distinctive, etched bottle with the classic Llorona legend on the back. Extra-mature agaves are selected and a proprietary yeast strain is used in a slow fermentation. Oak barrels which aged Scotch, sherry and cognac are used for maturation and aged for around five years. The blend is made with the goal of achieving a cognac or single-malt level of complexity. While most tequila is aged at 80 proof, this is bottled at 86 proof. The release will always be limited, according to González.
  • 1
    1 Tequila Tapatio Excelencia Gran Reserva Lot 1
    97
    Rich & Sweet
    Tapatio is the partnership between Marko Karakasevic of Charbay Distillery in northern California with Master Distiller Carlos Camarena at La Alteña distillery in Jalisco. Excelencia Gran Reserva Lot 1 was distilled in 1996 and aged in char no. 4 new American oak for four years. Here's where it gets crazy - then it was rested in 5 liter glass vessels before bottling in 2013. Spirits can't evolve in glass, you say? Well, agave breaks all the rules.