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A handy guide to high-end tequilas

Tequila was once celebrated mostly as a

Tequila was once celebrated mostly as a “naughty, rambunctious, raw” libation best quaffed by the young, said F. Paul Pacult in Wine Enthusiast. Now it’s joined the sophisticated ranks of wood-aged Cognacs, Scotch whisky, vintage Port, rum, and straight bourbon whiskey. As this quintessential Mexican spirit became more respectable, the industry began emphasizing classifications for high-end tequilas.

Blanco identifies tequila that is not wood-aged and that is bottled 60 days after distillation. A reposado has been aged in oak barrels between two and 12 months. Tequila aged in oak barrels from one to three years is identified as añejo. More recently, an “extra añejo” category has emerged. Some of these dark-hued tequilas have been aged four or even five years, and are “allowed to relax” in old bourbon whiskey barrels or those used to age Jack Daniels. These extra añejos can cost up to an astounding $1,800 a bottle. In a recent tasting, the following añejos and extra añejos all scored 96 to 100 on a 100-point scale, earning our “highest recommendation.”

AñejosEl Tesoro Añejo ($60)Herradura Añejo ($60)Partida Añejo ($65)

Extra añejosChinaco Negro Extra Añejo Tequila Lot #17 ($270) Matured in old bourbon whiskey barrels.Gran Centenario Leyenda Extra Añejo ($250) “Splendid.” Matured in barrels made with French oak.

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