Whiskey is generally sipped, I mean when it comes to good whiskey at least. Tequila is often used in a much more diverse manner. Yeah, the expensive and aged tequila is very good when it’s sipped, the cheap stuff is fine in a marg, but a lot of us… A lot of us drink tequila as a shot. Is the more expensive tequila worth buying if you’re just taking shots? We’re gonna find out.
We’re not talking about tequila reposado or añejo, we know that’s good. And we’re not talking about Juarez Gold because we know that’s awful. We’re talking about tequila blanco. Is a $40-50 bottle of Casamigos or Patron better than a $20-something bottle of 1800 or a $15 bottle of Jose Cuervo? We’re blind tasting and ranking 6 different tequilas today by taking a shot of each. Wish me luck.
The 6 Tequilas
How often do you hear someone say that they love tequila, BUT IT HAS TO BE Casamigos, or Patron, Or Don Julio? I mean, yeah, I don’t like the $10 artificially colored tequila either, but a simple $20 bottle should do the trick…. or can it?
We have 6 different tequila blanco shooters ranging in price and renown. Below are the 6 contenders in order from most expensive to least expensive.
- Casamigos – $38-45+
- Patron – $38-45+
- 1800 Tequila – $22-27+
- Campo Bravo Plata – $20-25
- Lunazul – $18-23
- Jose Cuervo – $14-18
The goal was to get a good representation of each price range. Casamigos and Patron are your top shelf tequila blancos, 1800 is mid-upper shelf, Campo Bravo and Lunazul are mid-lower shelf, and Jose Cuervo is your bottom shelf, budget blanco tequila.
All of these tequilas are 80 proof, 40% ABV, and all of them are 100% tequila made from Blue Weber Agave with the exception of Jose Cuervo.
Jose Cuervo Especial is a mixto tequila so it uses at least 51% blanco tequila and can contain additives such as sugar-based syrup or glycerin.
If you’re looking for real tequila, always make sure to check the label. Real tequila will be labeled as tequila and typically say “100% de agave”. Jose Cuervo, on the other hand, says “made with tequila”.
Blind Ranking 6 Tequila Shots
Okay, it’s officially time to take the shots and rank them 1-6.
AS A NOTE! Blind ranking any kind of liquor can be very tough when you’re talking about more than two options. The taste of one tequila will affect the taste of another… Not to mention, I’ll probably start to get a nice buzz going on after 3 or 4. Typically speaking, A vs B comparisons are much better to do.
But…. 6 tequila shots sounds like fun, sooo let’s do it!
I’m not going to lie, this kind of surprised me. I’ve always thought that I liked Patron, and I immediately pegged this one as Jose Cuervo.
Patron was the 5th shot I took in the line-up, and it was right after Jose Cuervo, so maybe that had an impact on the taste.
Regardless, our most expensive bottle of tequila comes in last place. Not a good look for Patron, even if I was experiencing some of that palate blindness.
5. Jose Cuervo
The second I took this shot, I said, “I don’t think it’s Cuervo but it’s not good tequila”.
While I was wrong about it not being Cuervo, I was right in that it’s not good Tequila. You still won’t see me choosing to drink Jose Cuervo Especial, but it’s a win for Cuervo to not come in last among this line-up.
4. Campo Bravo
Camp Bravo was the second shot I took, and it was actually pretty good. It was and easy shot but it had a musty quality to it.
Campo Bravo, while coming in 4th place, was really the middle of the pack tequila from the list. It was clearly better than Cuervo and Patron, but it wasn’t on the same level of the shots that came ahead of it.
The musty quality of Campo Bravo was the only thing that kept this from being higher.
Casamigos was the 3rd shot I took, and it comes in 3rd place, too. I’m a big fan of Casamigos. Their reposado and añejo tequilas are really nice to sip and only a couple dollars more expensive than the blanco.
I usually think of Casamigos as having a vegetal tone and some flavor, but I just didn’t get much of anything. There was something a little off about it right when it touched my lips, but it really smoothed out. There just wasn’t much to it, either.
If I’m buying Casamigos, I’m spending the extra $5-10 on their aged expressions.
1800 was the last shot I took and lands in 2nd place. 1800 had the benefit of going after Cuervo and Patron, my two least favorite, so it could only go uphill from there.
There was absolutely nothing off about 1800. The quality was good, the notes were fresh and clean, it went down easy. There was nothing to complain about here, it just couldn’t take over our champion.
Lunazul was my first shot of the day and also my favorite! This came as a huge surprise to me as this was the cheapest tequila I had, outside of Cuervo which is a mixto.
The moment I took it, I truly thought it was Casamigos. It had a strong green and vegetal flavor with some citrus and pepper. Again, there was nothing off-putting and everything was fresh and clean.
This was the first shot I took, so it makes sense that I got the strongest flavors from it. However, this is a $20 bottle of tequila, so it’s impressive that it came in first place over 1800, Casamigos, and patron.
The purpose of this article was to figure out if buying top-shelf tequila is worth it, and I think we’ve come to a conclusion.
If you’re wanting to sip tequila, then sure, go ahead an buy some more expensive options. Buy some tequila reposado or añejo. However, if you’re drinking tequila to party – you’re taking shots, making margaritas, mixed drinks, etc., mid-shelf tequila is will work just fine.
Now, you may have to experiment a little bit to find your favorite mid shelf tequila, but it’ll certainly save you money. A lot of $25 bottles of tequila are just as good as, if not better than, your popular, mass-produced, top shelf tequila.
My Favorite Lower-Mid Shelf Tequila
Below are a couple of options to get you started. You can read my full reviews on these cheaper tequilas that will be hits at any party.