The Top Agave Spirits From December

These 10 tequilas and mezcals took home the highest scores from the Distiller Tasting Table in the month of December!
Dec 29, 2016
  • 10
    10 Tequila Tapatio Reposado
    88
    Spicy
    The Camarena family of distillers has been producing tequila for 3 generations at La Alteña distillery in the hills of Jalisco. Tapatio is the joint project between Carlos Camarena and Marko Karakasevic of Charbay winery and distillery in Napa. It's made with 100% estate-grown blue agave and fermented with a yeast culture that dates back 75 years. It's aged 8 months in ex-bourbon barrels.
  • 9
    9 Mezcal Marca Negra Arroqueño
    89
    Sweet & Fruity
    Arroqueño agave can take over 20 years to mature, giving this mezcal an extra special character. Marca Negra Mezcal produces this in limited quantities by the traditional methods led by Master Mezcalero Alberto Ortiz. The agave is hand-picked at ripeness in Santa Maria La Pila, Oaxaca, the hearts are then cooked in earthen pit ovens with mesquite-heated stones. It is then crushed by a large stone wheel, the tahona, and put to ferment with spring water in wooden vats. Fermentation occurs naturally through wild airborne yeasts and takes weeks to complete. It is then twice distilled to proof in a copper pot-still.
  • 8
    8 Blue Nectar Reposado Special Craft Tequila
    90
    Sweet
    Blue Nectar Tequila Reposado Special Craft is made from 100% blue agave, harvested by hand in Jalisco, Mexico. It is crafted in small batches, double-distilled and aged for 6 to 8 months in charred oak barrels. To finish, it is "infused with essential oils and a hint of agave nectar." Produced by Tequila Selecto de Amatitán, S.A. de C.V. (NOM 1459), it is bottled at 40% ABV.
  • 7
    7 Mezcal Pierde Almas Pechuga
    91
    Umami & Fruity
    Pierde Almas creates their Pechuga every November by taking their Espadín mezcal to the next level with a third distillation. The most notable step is hanging a turkey breast in the still, a variation on the traditional chicken breast. Before the third distillation, the mezcal is infused with a variety of wild fruits, herbs and nuts, such as apples, pineapples, almonds, pecans, citrus blossoms and anise.
  • 6
    6 Mezcal Pierde Almas Coyote 2014
    91
    Smoky
    Pierde Almas is a self-styled "hyper-gourmet" and artisan-made "mezcal de autor". It is made principally from Oaxacan wild agaves in single-varietal batches. Piñas are baked up to five days in clay ovens, natural fermentation takes place in wooden vats, and the mash is distilled in a copper "serpentine" still.
  • 5
    5 Herencia Mexicana Extra Añejo Tequila
    91
    Sweet & Rich
    A category that has been growing in popularity over the last few years, Extra Añejo is the most heavily-matured style of tequila. Seeing at least 3 years in cask, most producers really seek to present their Extra Añejo offerings like a fine cognac both in terms of marketing and in many ways flavor profile. This product is aged for 3 years and 8 months. Limited production of 624 bottles, it should be noted that this comes in a handsome wooden box.
  • 4
    4 Del Maguey San Pablo Ameyaltepec
    92
    Floral
    This unaged mezcal hails from a new D.O. in the Mexican state of Puebla. Master Mezcalier Aurelio Gonzalez Tobon uses 12-18 year-old wild papalote (aka cupreata) agave hearts which are roasted in an earthen pit oven. They are fermented in the open air with natural yeasts, and distilled to proof in a reflux-style alembic still.
  • 3
    3 Tequila Gran Dovejo Reposado
    93
    Fruity & Spicy
    Tequila Gran Dovejo is located in the Highlands of Jalisco and produces only single-estate tequilas. The agave plants are grown by a fifth-generation agave grower in Los Altos. The piñas, or hearts of agave are harvested by hand and then roasted in clay ovens for 36 hours. The piñas are then shredded, the juices extracted and fermented and then double-distilled in copper alembic stills before being aged between six and nine months in American oak barrels which are hand-selected by the Master Distiller to evaluate maturity.
  • 2
    2 Don Pilar Reposado Tequila
    94
    Sweet & Rich
    Don Pilar is a grower-producer distillery located in the Highlands (Los Altos) region of Jalisco. It's named for its distiller, Don José Pilar Contreras Marquez, who grew up ranching, became a migrant worker in the US, returned to Mexico for ranching (and even got a bit part in a movie for it), and then opened his distillery, La Trasquila in 2001. The reposado is aged 6 months in virgin white oak with a no. 2 char, given a medium toast.
  • 1
    1 Arta Tequila Extra Añejo
    96
    Rich & Sweet
    Arta Tequila is a family-owned brand located in the Tequila Valley region of El Arenal, Jalisco. They pride themselves on their sustainable practices and while they are not certified organic, grow their agave without the use of pesticides. This Extra Añejo is aged a whopping 5 years, with 3 of those years spent in American white oak (ex-Heaven Hill bourbon barrels) and a 50/50 split for the remaining two years in a combination of ex-Cognac and ex-sherry barrels.