The very best 100 percent agave tequilas.

By now we all know that there’s good tequila and bad tequila. The kind that’s meant to be sipped and savored, like a fine wine, and that other stuff, bringer of blurry nights (I don’t remember getting this tattoo!) and head-throbbing hangovers. Here at Sunset we swear by additive-free, 100 percent agave tequila. Why? Because it tastes great. 

Good tequila can be distinctive, complex, and have as much depth and character as any fancy-pants scotch or cognac. The good news is that there’s never been a better time to enjoy Mexico’s native juice: A boom in exports has flooded the U.S. market with premium tequila. The bad news? The boom also means fatter marketing budgets for spirit companies, making it tough to separate what’s actually good from what Justin Timberlake says is good. 

So what is good tequila? Abandon the idea that age = quality. Many golden-colored bottles are full of sugar and artificial color, and plenty of silver tequilas have mind-blowing complexities. Price, unfortunately, doesn’t necessarily tell you much, either. You’ll know the good stuff when you taste it, though. A fine tequila goes down smooth whether aged or not, and can be sipped on the rocks or even neat, with no salt or limes being part of the picture. 

We’ve picked several bottles from across tequila’s vast spectrum—from Margarita-ready blancos to oak-aged, special-occasion añejos. And as much as we want you to share in our enthusiasm for tequila, we don’t suggest trying them all in one sitting. And remember, the bottom line with tequila (or anything really), is that it’s good if you like it. Salud!

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