Añejo tequilas are great for sipping solo or mixing into cocktails. They clock in at 40% ABV and are found in all different price categories, from $20(ish) all the way into the multiple hundreds. Añejo tequilas spend one to three years in oak, which gives them their signature richness and texture.
"Añejo translates to aged or matured tequila, and [said] aging is done in oak barrels for a minimum of 12 months, which imparts a lot of flavors to the spirit,” says Suyash Pande, head bartender at New York’s Baar Baar. Pande finds that añejo tequilas tend to be smoother than their counterparts, thanks to their one to three years of barrel aging.
Steve Reynolds, co-founder of Penta Tequila, agrees. “An añejo, for me, needs to have spice, mouthfeel and layers of character [that] you can only get with time and age in a barrel," he says. "There is a balance to the wood and toast for me that makes all things sing.”
That's why the intricate barrel notes found in Olmeca Altos' Añejo Tequila help to make it our top pick.
Craving a tequila to sip or a cocktail with some complexity? Here are some of the best añejo tequilas available today.
Olmeca Altos Añejo Tequila
ABV: 40% | Tasting Notes: Citrus, Agave, Vanilla, Oak, Black pepper
Deke Dunne, bar director at Allegory at the Eaton DC Hotel, reveals that Olmeca Altos Añejo Tequila is his go-to bottle at the bar. “I love it because it embodies everything that I want in an Añejo at an affordable price. The agave shines through while really bringing some of the barrel notes to the forefront,” he says.
Dunne notes that the Olmeca Altos’ expression isn't overly sweet and tastes natural. “We use Altos Añejo in one of our cocktails called Mad as a Hatter, which combines Altos Añejo with Altos Blanco, blanc vermouth, falernum, smoked apple pachuga, dill, and clarified butter. The Añejo's barrel notes really add a level of deep, dark complexity and play beautifully with apple and falernum.” he says. “We also have it on our back bar because it doubles as a wonderful sipping tequila as well.”
Best for Añejo Old Fashioneds
ABV: 40% | Tasting Notes: Citrus, Cedar spice, Dried fruits, Wood
What’s not to love about Herradura? This golden-hued tequila was first produced by Casa Herradura in 1962 and has since skyrocketed to industry fame. The spirit ages for 25 months—which is 13 months more than the regulated standard—in American white oak barrels, which leads to a medium to full-bodied sipper loaded with warm flavors of citrus, cedar spice, vanilla, dried fruits and wood.
Johnny Swet, owner of JIMMY, reveals that Herradura Añejo is his go-to choice for using in Añejo Old-Fashioned. “It’s just an all-around quality brand,” he says, noting that he tends to look for a rich, amber color and super smooth flavor profile that “allows one to enjoy the aging process” when choosing a bottle with which to craft cocktails. Dunne notes that he also enjoys using Añejo tequilas in stirred, spirit-forward cocktails, particularly in Old Fashioneds, Manhattans, and respective variations of the two.
Read Next: The Best Tequilas for Margaritas
Best Under $30
ABV: 40% | Tasting Notes: Plums, Caramel, Sweet spice
Great tequila doesn’t have to be expensive. For a delicious spirit on a budget, look no further than Milagro Añejo. This triple-distilled tequila is produced from 100% estate-grown and brick oven-roasted Highlands agave, then ages for 14 to 24 months in American oak barrels.
Smooth and savory flavors of plums, caramel and sweet spice ooze from the spirit's versatile palate. Excellent for sipping neat or mixing into cocktail creations at home.
Best Under $50
ABV: 40% | Tasting Notes: Yellow fruits, Caramel, Citrus rind
At under $50 a bottle, 1800 Añejo seriously over-delivers for the price. This rich and round tequila ages in American oak for 12 months, with a portion additionally aged for two years. Its lifted aromatics lead to a textured palate loaded with flavors of caramel, citrus rind, yellow fruits and sweet spice. Sip, mix or do both.
“An añejo, after resting in the barrels for over one year, should have a story to tell and not just be a vanilla tequila. It should open up in the glass, evolve, showcase multiple notes including a beautiful agave note coming through throughout.” — Robin Clough, CEO and founder of Tequila Enemigo
Read Next: The Best Tequila Under $50
Best Extra Añejo
Grand Mayan Ultra Aged Añejo
ABV: 40% | Tasting Notes: Dried fruits, Roasted nuts, Caramel
The extra añejo tequila category is relatively new to the spirits scene, as it was only established in 2006. This category designates tequilas that are aged for three years or more, though many distilleries will surpass that.
Grand Mayan's Ultra Aged Añejo ages for five years in oak and is packaged in traditional hand-painted bottles from the region. Sweet and smooth flavors of dried fruits, roasted nuts and caramel dominate the spirit's velvety smooth palate. This bottle is certain to impress the tequila lover in your life.
Best for Sipping
ABV: 40% | Tasting Notes: Baked agave, Smoke, Burnt caramel
Known by most and beloved by many, this tequila is perfect for pleasing the masses. Patrón Añejo is oak aged for over 12 months, allowing the sweet woody flavors to integrate over time. Notes of baked agave, smoke, burnt caramel and dried fruits dominate this spirit’s unctuous palate. Sip solo after dinner for a delicious digestif.
Best for Cocktails
ABV: 40% | Tasting Notes: Sweet oak, Smoke, Vanilla
For crafting cocktails at home, Hornitos offers a great bottle that won't break the bank. This 100% agave tequila ages for one year in American white oak barrels and is loaded with delicate flavors of sweet oak, smoke, vanilla and black pepper. Perfect for mixing in Margaritas, Palomas, Tequila Sours and beyond.
“For a drink like an Old Fashioned—I do prefer the spicier, wood-driven character [of añejo tequila] to add depth,” says Reynolds.
Best for Gifting
Don Julio 1942
ABV: 40% | Tasting Notes: Vanilla, Toasted almonds, Milk chocolate
This luxurious tequila was originally created to commemorate the 60th anniversary of Don Julio’s first distillery. The spirit ages for two years in oak barrels and is packaged in its signature elongated bottle, which is inspired by the shape of the agave leaf.
Textured notes of vanilla, toasted almonds, milk chocolate and cinnamon spice dominate the tequila’s rich, round and utterly delicious palate. This bottle is nothing short of special.
Enemigo 89 Añejo Cristalino
ABV: 40% | Tasting Notes: Vanilla, Coconut, Oak
Looking for something unique? This añejo cristalino tequila is just the ticket. The spirit ages for over a year in new American oak but is then filtered through Enemigo’s three-phase Carbon-Cellulose system, which removes pigment from the spirit. The resulting beverage is smooth, silky and extremely easy to drink. The tequila gets its name from the 89 attempts it took to craft this innovative expression of agave. We recommend sipping this one solo.
Best Top Shelf
Cascahuin Extra Anejo Tequila
ABV: 40% | Tasting Notes: Honey, Cooked agave, Orange blossom, Sweet spice
Looking for a top shelf Añejo to wow the tequila lover (or yourself) in your life? Cascahuin’s got your back. This impressive spirit first ages for four years in large wooden tanks (min. 60 years old) prior to resting for an additional four years in American oak barrels. On the palate, notes of honey, cooked agave, orange blossom, and sweet spice lead to a lingering, long-lasting finish.
Christopher Reyes, partner at New York’s Aldama, shares that Cascahuin Extra Añejo is his favorite tequila in the world. “In my opinion, Añejo tequila is best enjoyed sipping neat,” he says. “Due to the fact that so much time and dedication goes into the process of creating this product, I feel it’s important to appreciate the spirit in its most pure form.”
Solento Organic Añejo Tequila
ABV: 40% | Tasting Notes: Toasted almonds, Hazelnuts, Maple, Sweet oak
In the premium and organic realms of Añejo tequila, Solento covers both. Crafted from 7-year-aged 100% Blue Agave, this high-end spirit spends 18 months in American oak prior to release. On the palate, smooth notes of toasted almonds, hazelnuts, maple, and sweet oak lead to a lasting finish.
Dunne explains that he personally loves using Añejo tequila in cocktails – so much so, that he often reaches for them over their joven counterparts. “I tend to like to use Añejo instead of Blanco in cocktails where I need that roasted, peppery agave note, but also want more of those barrel spices, such as vanilla, chocolate, and cinnamon,” he says.
Fortaleza Añejo Tequila
ABV: 40% | Tasting Notes: Citrus, Butterscotch, Toffee, Cooked agave
For those who are looking to shy away from bigger brand names but aren’t sure where to look, Fortaleza is an excellent start. Produced from 100% stone-crushed agave, this double-distilled Añejo tequila ages for 18 months in American oak prior to bottling. Slightly spicy and very aromatic, this complex tequila shows flavors of citrus, butterscotch, toffee, and cooked agave. Upon first sip, the tequila is thick on the palate, leading to a rich and mouth-coating finish. For Añejo lovers new and old, this pour promises to be a serious treat.
Tequila has been more popular than ever and the añejo category has grown not only in quantity but quality as well. There are so many thoughtfully-produced añejo tequilas available in a variety of price points. Our pick for Best Overall, Olmeca Altos' Añejo expression (view on Drizly), and the Best Under $30 pick, Milagro Añejo (view on Drizly), are great choices that won't break the bank.
What to Look For
When seeking out a good Añejo tequila, Dunn recommends looking for one with bold and unique characteristics. “There are so many tequilas floating around these days that are pumped full of additives, so I try to stay away from any Añejo that are overly sweet and taste like artificial vanilla or cotton candy,” he says. Dunne advises looking for Añejos that have rich, natural colors, as well as those that show notes of roasted agave and black pepper, as well as natural barrel spices such as caramel, chocolate, vanilla, and oak. “I don't ever want the agave to be a background player – it's tequila, so it should taste like agave,” he states.
What are the different styles of tequilas?
In terms of aging, the four main types of tequila are Blanco (0-59 days), Reposado (60+ days), Añejo (1-3 years), and Extra Añejo (3+ years). Blanco tequilas do not spend time aging in oak, whereas the other three categories do.
What makes Añejo tequila special?
Añejo tequila is special in that it spends one to three years aging in oak barrels. In Spanish, the word “añejo” means old, which is a reference to its aging time. Due to its oak aging, Añejo tequilas often show rich flavors of vanilla, cinnamon, and/or sweet spice on the palate.
Is Añejo tequila smoother than unaged tequila?
Generally speaking, Añejo tequilas tend to feel smoother on the palate, thanks to their one to three years spent in aging in oak barrels.
What is the best way to drink Añejo tequila?
Añejo tequilas can be sipped on their own or used in cocktail creations, it’s simply a matter of preference. When sipping Añejo tequila solo, Swet explains that it’s generally best to do so without ice, similar to how one would enjoy cognac. “It’s nice to build a simpler cocktail with Añejo tequila, where [its] flavors get to shine, unlike a blanco or joven, which would mix well with multiple layers in the cocktail,” he explains.
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Vicki Denig is a wine, spirits, and travel journalist who splits her time between New York and Paris. Her work regularly appears in major industry publications. She is the content creator and social media manager for a list of prestigious clients, including Sopexa, Paris Wine Company, Becky Wasserman, Volcanic Selections, Le Du’s Wines, Windmill Wine & Spirits and Corkbuzz. She is a Certified Specialist of Wine.