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There’s a reason bar industry experts gravitate towards reposado tequila. Meaning “rested,” reposado sits for at least two months, but generally less than a year, in the barrel. Most oftentimes, they’re American oak casks that once held whiskey. “It’s like the VSOP of tequila, aged but not too aged, with some wood but not overly decadent,” says Ivy Mix, owner of New York's Leyenda and author of "Spirits of Latin America." She quotes Carlos Camarena, master distiller of Jalisco La Alteña distillery, where Tequila Ocho is made: “He says aging is supposed to be like a picture frame, and in this case, the picture is of agave. You don’t want the frame to overtake the picture but to bring out [the] best attributes and highlight them.”
A reposado that is aged correctly is a tequila that can do it all. “You might get more spice or sweet aromatics, so it’s really good to sip neat,” says Walter Easterbrook, founder of Arte Agave, a festival for agave-based spirits. “But it’s also versatile in cocktails. It’s not overly aged, so it isn’t going to take away from the other flavors in a drink like an añejo can. Reposado can help enhance the fresh fruits or different syrups I want to play with.” Here are some of the pros’ picks of the best reposado tequilas to drink.
Best Overall: Siete Leguas Tequila Reposado
Mix calls this one “the bartender’s choice.” Easy on the wallet and the palate, Siete Leguas' reposado “hits the sweet spot of age,” she says. “It’s not the youngest and not the oldest, but it’s consistently great for cocktails as well as sipping neat.”
You’ll taste a marked minerality—soapstone or whetstone—followed by orange zest and the subtle flavor of vanilla that the barrel imparts. “There’s also clove and other baking spices that tie into the minerality, along with the richness of the agave coming through,” says Mix, which is just what you want from a reposado. “You should get that agave flavor at the end, like, ‘Oh, yeah, I’m drinking tequila.’”
Read Next: The Best Tequilas
Best 100% Agave: Partida Reposado Tequila
Tequila Partida's estate-grown crowd-pleaser—one of Mix’s favorites—comes from the Tequila Valley, where it is distilled from 7- to 10-year-old agave that has matured to full ripeness and complexity. Aged in reclaimed whiskey barrels for up to a year, it offers a floral nose with a caramelly and creamy flavor that resolves into a butter-and-honey smoothness and a spicy agave finish.
Though it’s lovely to sip with a single, large ice cube, it’s also dynamite in both summer highballs and strong, wintery drinks. If you like it, you might also try the distillery’s new reposado expression, Roble Fino, aged in used sherry casks.
Best for Sipping: G4 Tequila Reposado
Both long-time tequila fans and those who are new to the category will love this reposado from Destileria el Pandillo, where the fourth-generation Camarena family uses a special tahona, or millstone, made from recycled metal parts to break down the agave. Their innovative ways don’t stop there; they also distill their tequila using a blend of neutral rainwater and mineral-laden spring water for an approachable yet structured spirit.
Aged in both American and French oak, G4 Tequila's reposado offers buttery, orange flavors but with a mineral-driven backbone and a cinnamon finish. Sip it neat and enjoy the craftsmanship.
Best Under $50: Herradura Reposado Tequila
A “favorite go-to” for Easterbrook, Herradura's popular tequila, produced by a distillery known for its environmentally-friendly practices, launched the entire reposado category back in 1974. Today, it is easy to find and remains inexpensive.
With a super smooth mouthfeel and a pleasing cooked agave flavor, this tequila is overlaid by rich, creamy vanilla notes from a full 11 months spent in American oak. “It’s a very well-rounded reposado that you can sip neat, throw on rocks, or mix into an amazing cocktail,” says Easterbrook. “It hits all the points I like. It’s not too sweet or too spicy; it’s perfectly balanced.”
Best Splurge: Clase Azul Reposado Tequila
"I’ve always gravitated towards this reposado,” says Easterbrook. Clase Azul's ultra-premium tequila is made traditionally, with agave cooked in stone ovens and twice distilled in copper pot stills, then aged eight months in oak barrels.
Dark amber in color, it leans more toward the sweet side, so it’s great for drinkers who like the fruitier aspects of the agave. “Bananas, pears, and pineapples is what I get,” says Easterbrook, who prefers to sip it neat. If you’re searching for a showpiece to jazz up your bar, this tequila's uniquely shaped, hand-painted ceramic bottle looks stunning on the shelf.
Read Next: The Best Añejo Tequilas
Best in a Paloma: Santera Tequila Reposado
Aged seven months in American oak, this reposado from Santera Tequila is produced by Casa Maestri Distillery, a female-owned operation in Tequila, Jalisco. Made from 100% Weber blue agave steam-roasted in a traditional brick oven, its relatively long rest in the barrel gives it a perfumey, citrusy character, which mingles with the salty-sweet agave.
Smooth and velvety, the tequila winds down with a dry and pleasant bitter note, with a touch of vanilla and dark-blonde caramel on the finish. Mixed into a fresh-fruit Paloma, it lends a delicious brûléed quality to the fresh grapefruit juice, while augmenting the zing of the citrus peel.
Best in a Bramble: Don Julio Reposado Tequila
Great for any type of cocktail, this classic reposado is aged eight months in American white oak and is produced by Don Julio, which has been making tequila since 1942. “This one goes down nice and easy,” according to Easterbrook. “It’s super smooth, but it stands up to mixers and sweeteners.” One of his favorite ways to use a reposado like this is in cocktails with muddled fresh berries and herbs: cilantro and blackberries, mint and strawberries, or any other combination. “It’s an amazing, delicious marriage,” he says.
Best for Margaritas: ArteNom 1414 Reposado Tequila
"Some tequilas are so light that they just get lost if you make a drink with them,” says Easterbrook. Bold and full-bodied, ArteNom's reposado doesn’t have that problem. “When you add it to a drink, you can still get that agave flavor,” he says, “and it stands up to the sweetener and citrus.” That makes for the perfect Margarita, which, after all, is a marriage of the three. “You’re getting sweet, sour, and tequila all in one sip,” says Easterbrook. “It’s just delicious.” Still, it doesn’t lack versatility, so you can use this one in any version of the cocktail you choose to make: on the rocks, up, with a salt rim, or even frozen and with flavorings.
Read Next: The Best Margarita Machines
Best for Stirred Cocktails: Siembre Valles Reposado
Especially in fall and winter, Mix likes this tequila from Siembra Valles in boozy, stirred drinks in the Old Fashioned realm. “It’s quite rich and caramelly,” but with plenty of spice bringing “almost a confectionary quality, like cinnamon crème brûlée,” she says. There are notes of black pepper here, too, because this reposado is from Jalisco Valley, where the agave tastes bolder. Still, it’s more delicate than other Valley tequilas. “It pulls and plays with itself,” says Mix.
Best from Outside Jalisco: Corralejo Reposado Tequila
"It’s super good,” Easterbrook says of this reposado from Corralejo. “You get a really great combination of sweet and spicy characteristics. For the price, it has good complexity.” At the same-named distillery located in Guanajuato, Mexico, this tequila ages for four months in a curvilinear cellar amid a range of French and American oak barrels, which lend notes of peppercorn and honey to the natural agave flavors. With a nutty aroma resolving in a sweet palate and bitter spice finish, it’s terrific neat or on the rocks.
Best from Tequila Valley: Fortaleza Tequila Reposado
"Valley tequilas have this ka-bam quality,” says Mix. This one from Fortaleza delivers the personality in spades. “Off the nose, you get overripe tropical fruit aromas,” she describes, “and then the palate pops” with flavors of lemon, a bit of cardamom, and plenty of black pepper, which “cuts through” the cinnamon and vanilla of the barrel. A bottle of it provides all of the characteristics you want in a reposado. “The beautiful thing about fall is we can make richer, citrusy cocktails, like a sour, but with some robustness,” says Mix. When you’re mixing an autumnal sour, this is the tequila to reach for.
Best from the Highlands: Tequila Ocho Reposado
"It really has some nice, spicy notes to it,” says Mix of Tequila Ocho's reposado from Jalisco’s Los Altos region, “but more than just black pepper.” Though these notes are expected from a tequila made of agave grown at lower altitudes, this Highlands version is also replete in baking spice flavors (cinnamon, nutmeg and clove), as well as fruity notes, like ripe strawberries and honeysuckle. “Yet it’s not too sweet,” adds Mix.
It’s aged in older barrels that impart just a hint of color and little of the woodiness of newer oak, allowing the spirit’s agave character to shine. “It’s complex and well-balanced, with zero bite or burn,” she says. “I can sip on it all day long.”