Traditionally hailing from Mexico, tequila is essentially made from the round pineapple-shaped stem or piña of the blue Weber agave plant. Often party starters, tequilas are a favourite among many liquor connoisseurs, and when done right, an exceptional tequila bottle can become a prized possession, too. But why do some of these expensive tequilas fetch such high prices? Let’s find out.
Made by steaming the piña and distilling the extracted sap, tequila hits the right notes owing to its fine ageing in French oak casks, sherry barrels or American white oak barrels. These impart undertones and add layers to the flavour profile when the juice is left for fermentation. The production of this alcohol is typically concentrated in five primary regions — Jalisco, Guanajuato, Michoacán, Nayarit and Tamaulipas — and harvesting the blue agave plant is a generational art.
In fact, the drink gets its name from Tequila City, located in Jalisco. Interestingly, these specifications and ingredients required to make a bottle of fine tequila give it an overall standard taste and texture. Hence, aficionados may experience a uniform taste every time they sip on an expensive tequila.
What are the different types of tequilas?
Those who enjoy its earthy flavours know that tequila is a classic drink which can elevate the mood instantly. However, if you are new to the drink and want to give luxury tequila a try, these terms can help you identify the best dram.
Blanco (white) or silver tequila is the clear and unaged alcohol that is finished in bottles right after distillation. Therefore, it carries a strong raw agave taste.
Joven (young) tequila is also called gold tequila. It is a concoction of Blanco and aged tequila and is usually fermented for a short time. It carries a smooth texture and a mild sweet taste.
Reposado (rested) tequila is a type of aged spirit that is rested for a minimum of two months in oak barrels, but not more than a year. It has a light golden colour and a smooth woody taste.
Añejo (aged) tequila is kept in oak barrels for at least a year, but not exceeding three years. Such a prolonged fermentation period imparts a dark amber shade and has a smooth, complex taste.
Extra Añejo (extra-aged) tequila is the longest-aged tequila that is stored in oak barrels for at least three years. It is of a dark brown shade and has a rich taste.
Some of the most expensive tequila brands are based on these parameters, and their decanters make them the perfect drinks for those with sophisticated tastes and preferences. The drinks also come in expensive bottles, which are sheer works of art.
Here are some of the most expensive tequilas in the world
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- Tequila Ley .925 Diamante
- Tequila Ley .925 Ultra-Premium Project MX 33
- Clase Azul Master Artisans Limited Edition
- Patrón En Lalique: Serie 2
- Patrón x Guillermo Del Toro Añejo Tequila
- Jose Cuervo 250 Aniversario
- AsomBroso The Collaboration
- AsomBroso Del Porto Extra Añejo
- Barrique De Ponciano Porfidio
- AsomBroso Vintage Extra Añejo
Price: USD 3,500,000 (SGD 4,644,850 approx.)
The most expensive tequila in the world demands such a high price not only for its liquid content but also for the precious dragon motif bottle the liquor comes in. Created by Jose Davalos Mejia, it took nearly 10 months and is made of pure platinum and studded with white diamonds.
The drink is produced by one of the most renowned distilleries in Mexico, known for resting top-notch expensive tequilas. This exquisite millionaire’s extra añejo drink is made from a 100 per cent blue agave plant and is aged in a barrel for seven years. This premium sip has an alcohol-by-volume (ABV) content of 42 per cent.
Reportedly sold for the first time in 2010, this high-quality tequila is worthy of a place in an exquisite collection. While other Ley .925 tequilas are readily available across liquor outlets, this bottle is a rare find.
Image credit: Ley925.com
Price: USD 225,000 (SGD 298,600 approx.)
Another of the most expensive tequilas from the house of Ley .925, this premium alcohol made it to the Guinness Book of World Records in 2006 for its sky-high price. Like the Diamante, this exclusive tequila is also named after the expensive bottle, which is crafted of platinum and pure white gold, and designed by Fernando Altamirano.
The alcohol is extracted from pure blue agave and is aged for six years at the Hacienda La Capilla distillery in Mexico. As per reports, only 33 of these bottles were produced, making it a rare possession.
Image credit: Guinness World Records
Price: USD 19,015 (SGD 25,234 approx.)
For this limited-edition production, renowned tequila brand Clase Azul enhanced the rich traditions and cultural heritage of Mexico. Released in 2021, this edition saw the collaboration between the spirit company and famous Mexican artist Jesús Guerrero Santos of Guadalajara, Jalisco. He has spent over three decades in uplifting Mexican art and is heavily influenced by architectural study, sacred art and various baroque styles. All these are expressed most beautifully in the three decanters of this tequila.
These contain expensive tequilas of extra añejo blends. They are aged for eight years, first in American whiskey casks and then in one of the three sherry casks — Amontillado, Oloroso or Pedro Ximénez. The spirits are then finished in Madeira wine casks.
Clase Azul says, “Together, we consider these creations to be a poem in which each piece is a verse.”
Image credit: Clase Azul
Price: USD 7,500 (SGD 9,953 approx.)
A rich wooden box encases the crystal decanter that holds the crystalline bright gold-coloured alcohol. Designed by acclaimed French glassmaker Lalique, it flaunts an Art Déco style with straight geometric lines. The stopper at the head — a stunning crystal bee with hand-painted gold accents — makes this a gorgeous collaborative product between Patrón and Lalique.
A bottle of 750 ml of this 40 per cent ABV tequila is a collector’s dream. The fruity aroma of the alcohol is infused with notes of vanilla and oak. Every sip brings out smooth tastes of sweet honey and light agave as well. The extra añejo tequila is aged for eight years in French oak, American oak and well-seasoned sherry barrels.
Image credit: Patrón Tequila
Price: USD 5,000 (SGD 6,635 approx.)
Veteran filmmaker Guillermo del Toro calls Jalisco his homeland just like well-known tequila producer Patrón. Therefore, a Patrón x Guillermo del Toro collaboration is a natural outcome.
The bottle is the brainchild of famous illustrator Guy Davis, who has worked with del Toro on several film projects and has a morbid theme about it. Evocative of the horror genre that defines the director, the bottle is hand-painted and houses the tequila and the liqueur in two separate compartments. Two votive candles are also provided to amplify the dark mood when the contents are laid out.
Made from 100 per cent blue agave, the añejo tequila is finished in oak barrels and has 40 per cent ABV. The bright golden colour spirit has a sweet aroma with notes of dried fruits, nuts and vanilla. A sip of this luxury dram brings up sweet honeyed and medium French oak tastes. The liqueur is also a rich drink and perfectly complements the exquisite tequila. A medium amber hue alcohol with a fruity aroma and hints of vanilla, clove and caramel, the liqueur has an ABV of 35 per cent.
Image credit: Patrón Tequila
Price: USD 2,400 (SGD 3,185 approx.)
“Those in the know, know there is no substitute for Jose Cuervo.” This one-liner describes Jose Cuervo‘s creations in the best way. And, after over 250 years of high spirits, the brand remains one of the indomitable names in the tequila world, and its 250 Aniversario produce is one of the finest. The bottle was launched in 2008 as a commemoration of the founder, José Antonio de Cuervo y Valdés, receiving a writ of land from the King of Spain back in 1758.
This extra añejo tequila is made from pure blue agave plants that are fully ripened and collected from a single field. It uses an array of ingredients that provide a unique taste, aroma and texture. It is ‘ultra aged’ in a combination of French and American oak barrels and mixed with tequilas from other demijohns of the company’s cellar and finally finished in Spanish sherry barrels for a year. It is said to have a distinct agave flavour, with hints of chocolate, butterscotch and vanilla, and leaves a creamy aftertaste.
Image credit: Cuervo
Price: USD 2,195 (SGD 2,912 approx.)
A premium tequila from the house of AsomBroso, The Collaboration is an extra añejo barrel-aged pour that has 40 per cent ABV. The high-quality alcohol is rested in American casks from Napa’s Silver Oak Cellar.
The Collaboration is stored in a unique bulbous decanter made by acclaimed Italian artist Luciano Gambaro on Murano Island, Italy. The barrels and ageing process give it a complex taste and aroma of wine and agave. Upfront, there are notes of caramel, cream, butterscotch and cherry. Later, it opens up fruity flavours of blackberry and wild apple and is finished with mild oak and a light smoky twist.
Image credit: AsomBroso
Price: USD 2,095 (SGD 2,780 approx.)
This 40 per cent ABV tequila belongs to the personal collection of distiller Ricardo Gamarra. The extra añejo tequila is unique due to a mellow sweet flavour profile that it gets from double resting for 10 years in wine barrels brought from Portugal; hence, the name.
The alcohol is made from pure blue agave and is mixed with small amounts of previously oak-aged tequila. It has a rather smooth and silky feel with a mildly sweet and oak-like aroma. Taste-wise, there is oak with floral hints, which sets the stage for a toffee and sweet port flavour. One can get the essence of toasted vanilla and honey as well.
Even the bottle exudes class and sophistication. Designed by Luciano Gambaro, it resembles a vintage decanter belonging to 18th-century Europe. It took two years to be designed and comes with its own handmade cedar humidor.
Image credit: AsomBroso
Price: USD 2,000 (SGD 2,654 approx.)
Aged in French oak barrels for a decade, the Barrique De Ponciano Porfidio tequila’s rarity and its pure distillation process make it one of the most expensive tequilas in the world.
The limited-edition pure agave spirit is aged in more pricey and refined wood varieties such as cherry wood and acacia. Any use of water is also removed from its quadruple distillation process to obtain a juice that is absolutely pure.
The amalgamation of these details and meticulous preparation gives rise to one of the best tequilas in the world, of which only 2,000 bottles are released per annum, as per reports.
Image credit: Tequila.net
Price: USD 799.95 (SGD 1,061 approx.)
Another of the most expensive bottles from the house of AsomBroso, the Vintage is a fine extra añejo spirit with 40 per cent ABV from Ricardo Gamarra’s personal collection. Its production period of 20 years uses only mature nine-year-old blue agaves that are then aged in French oak casks for 11 years.
The Vintage tequila has a sweet fragrance with hints of butterscotch and caramel and gradually brings out aromas of honey oak and cinnamon. On the taste buds, the first flavour is a warming agave devoid of any bitterness, while flavours of vanilla and oak are revealed slowly. They finally culminate into a smooth finish.
This expensive tequila has been conferred with the Best of the Best by Rob Report and has been named the top tequila by the World Spirits Competition.
Image credit: AsomBroso
(Main and featured image credit: Francisco Galarza/ @fgalarza/ Unsplash)
This story first appeared in Prestige Online Singapore
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Answer: Tequila Ley .925 Diamante is the world’s most expensive tequila and is priced at USD 3.5 million per bottle.
Answer: Like other alcohols, tequila also receives its fine quality and flavours through the long ageing process. The extra añejo variant is aged for a minimum of three years and, hence, has a strong flavour taste.
Answer: Some of the most expensive tequilas that cost above USD 1,000 include Tequila Ley .925 Diamante, Barrique De Ponciano Porfidio, Jose Cuervo 250 Aniversario and AsomBroso The Collaboration.
Answer: Clase Azul incorporates rich cultural traditions and heritage into their bottling and creates their decanters as a piece of art. The alcohol is also of the extra añejo blend and, hence, makes every sip a luxurious experience.
Answer: Tequila Ley.925 Diamante is the most expensive blue agave tequila.