I must admit, one reason for this review is definitely the name – Hornitos. It’s also a vastly popular tequila under the Beam-Suntory umbrella, so it’s widely available and reasonably priced. I’ve never been a huge tequila drinker, outside of shots and margaritas, but it’s certainly something I’ve been drinking more and more of – and something I’ve been appreciating more and more. We’ll see if Hornitos Tequila can add to that.
In this Hornitos Tequila review, we’ll cover some of the basics – the history, production, price, ABV, and more. The fun part, though, is when we get to pour ourselves a glass and discover if Hornitos is good tequila or not.
Hornitos Tequila History
Hornitos may have been founded in 1950, but it’s history goes back to the 1800’s with Don Cenobio Sauza. Don Cenobio began his career working at the Jose Cuervo distillery, moved into exporting spirits, and eventually leased a distillery to create his own liquor.
After some success, he purchased a distillery, La Antigua Cruz, and renamed it to La Perseverancia – perseverance. Sauza Tequila was born.
Fast forward a couple generations, to 1946, and Don Francisco Javier Sauza, grandson of Don Cenobio, had taken over as head of Sauza Tequila. Four years later, Hornitos Tequila was born, a brand of tequila under the Sauza umbrella.
While Hornitos has seen success, that was not his greatest accomplishment. Don Francisco was able to create legal qualifications for tequila. Tequila must use 100% blue weber agave, and it must be produced in the Mexican state of Jalisco.
In 1988, Francisco Javier sold Sauza Tequila. After changing hands a couple of times, it was eventually purchased by Beam-Suntory.
What Does Hornitos Mean?
Hornitos translates to “little ovens”.
It’s in reference to the brick ovens in which the agave hearts or cooked in.
Hornitos Tequila Overview
- Spirit: Tequila
- Owned By: Beam-Suntory
- Distilled By: La Perseverancia
- Aged: unaged
- ABV: 40%, 80 proof
- Mashbill: 100% Blue Weber Agave
- Price: $20
Thanks to the founder of Hornitos, Don Francisco Javier, all tequila is distilled from 100% blue weber agave, so the mash used is nothing new or unique.
Tequila is a little bit different than whiskey. Most whiskey snobs want to drink cask strength selections. At the very least, they (we) tend to prefer whiskey at ~95 proof on the lower end.
Tequila, on the other hand, is most often bottled and sold at 80 proof here in the US. A majority of the stronger options are still only in the 82-88 proof range. Of course, there are tequilas that are much stronger, it’s just not something you see as often as you do with whiskey.
One thing to keep in mind… this is a tequila blanco we are reviewing. Blanco is a label that refers to unaged tequila (it may spend a month or two in steel barrels, but nothing to affect the flavor or spirit). Tequila reposado spends 2 months to a year in oak barrels, and añejo refers to tequila that spends over a year aging in oak.
The final thing to mention before jumping into the profile is price. A 750ml bottle of Hornitos costs just about $20 (prices are very regional and store dependent, so give or take a couple bucks). At this price point, I don’t expect this to be the finest tequila I’ve ever had, but it certainly needs to be in the decent – good range to compete with other similarly priced tequila.
Hornitos Tequila Tasting Notes
Okay, we’ve covered most of the basics up until this point. This is where things get more serious, though. You can throw any cool story, history, or marketing out the window if what you produce isn’t any good. Likewise, we can get over most money grabs or gimmicks if what you produce is really good.
Is Hornitos Tequila good? Let’s find out.
Nose: Sweet. citrus, lime, vegetal, light pepper.
Palate: Very vegetal and green. There’s some sweet, light lime and some light pepper, but much more green pepper, botanical, and herbal.
Finish: The finish wasn’t too strong or long. It started out as mostly pepper, but quickly faded into the greenness.
Hornitos Tequila isn’t bad, not by any means. The downside, to me, is that the nose is the best part. It’s not even a very aromatic tequila, but the nose was clean… fresh. Often with tequila, I get a lot of orange peel, whereas Hornitos was lime forward, and tequila and lime is always a winner.
Not surprisingly, there was pepper on the nose and throughout the sip but not overpowering. Where I begin to knock Hornitos is with the quality of the vegetal note. I don’t mind a strong green, floral note with my tequila. Here, it was a little musty… not quite as fresh as the nose suggested.
I didn’t really get any burn with the finish. The pepper was most prominent here, but not unpleasant.
Hornitos is so close to being a very good $20 bottle, in my opinion. If the vegetal notes were as fresh as the rest of it, I’d be all in. Still, this is a very drinkable tequila, and one that made a pretty good margarita… which is probably how you’re planning on drinking this anyways.
At the $20 price point, I’d still choose Espolon as my go to tequila, but Hornitos is certainly a respectable option.
Hornitos Tequila Review Summary
For $20, there’s not much to gripe about, but there is a lot of competition. It’s definitely a lot better than the bad stuff, but probably not the absolute best either.
Outside of that, Hornitos has a good story behind it. It may have been just another brand added to an already large company, but the man who started it was the leader behind the push to protect tequila as a Mexican spirit, one from Jalisco.