Clase Azul Not In Your Budget? Here Are Some Cheaper Alternatives

tequila shots being poured
tequila shots being poured - Igorr1/Getty Images

Tequila may have been one of those love-or-hate things that almost everyone has a story about, but it's recently been considered with the same sort of seriousness usually reserved for whiskey or scotch. Premium tequila brands can set a buyer back a pretty penny, and take Clase Azul. Bottles start somewhere in the $130 mark and go up from there, with some bottles heading to the same price bracket as a new car.

Hilariously, Clase Azul founder Arturo Lomeli told CNN that while they had seen a market for luxury tequila, the most expensive bottles started as a gimmick. "We didn't imagine that we were going to be in the business of selling super expensive bottles regularly," he said. Surprise!

Lomeli stresses that his tequila is meant to be savored, to be enjoyed slowly and purely. That's great, but let's be honest — that's a ton of money to lay out for a single bottle of tequila, no matter how good it is. Fortunately, we have some really good news. We took a look at some affordable alternatives to Clase Azul, and chose the best of the best based on price point, on-the-rocks drinkability, and how happy we'd be to have a friend show up on our doorstep with a bottle.

Read more: Popular Vodka Brands Ranked From Worst To Best

KAH Tequila Añejo

decorated skull tequila bottles
decorated skull tequila bottles - David Becker/Getty Images

So, you're standing in the liquor store looking for a bottle of something nice to take to that dinner party. Ask for the KAH Tequila Añejo, and you're not going to go wrong. Kah is the Mayan word for life, and once you give this 80-proof, 2-year-old tequila a try, that'll make complete sense. Bottles average around $70 depending on location, and it's absolutely worth it for this sippable, savorable tequila.

Aged in American white oak casks, this tequila comes with a brilliantly creamy, caramel-and-toffee, vanilla sweetness that can change anyone's mind about tequila. Experts agree, as it has taken home silver and gold medals at The Spirits Business awards for multiple years. And we're not going to lie: We love the bottles, too. KAH tequilas (including its Blanco and Reposado, which are also excellent) come in ceramic bottles shaped and painted as Day of the Dead sugar skulls. They're so cool that you're going to want to save them for other purposes, and we're always fans of products that allow us to recycle and reuse.

Mijenta Reposado

Mijenta Reposado bottle
Mijenta Reposado bottle - Amazon

Tequila is made with agave — that's what makes it tequila, after all — so one of the hallmarks of a really good tequila is that sweet agave flavor. It's one of the reasons we like Mijenta's Reposado: Not only can you pick up a bottle for around $75,  but that bottle is going to last a while. Why? You're going to want to sip it and savor it on those days when you're in the mood for something wonderfully sweet.

That sweetness comes from the agave, which is front and center in this bottle. Add in notes of honey, toffee, and orange, and while sure, it'll make for a great tequila sunrise, you don't really need to mix this one with anything at all.

Mijenta has won a slew of awards for this version of its tequila, which was made with an eye toward creating the perfect sipping or on-the-rocks tequila. It's flavorful but not overwhelming, incredibly smooth, and great for those who aren't super familiar with tequila. We love it for newcomers because it's a great example of that agave flavor that you have to experience to really understand, but you're not going to be making that cringey tequila-face with this one. Be honest: You know which face.

123 Organic Tequila

three tequila bottles on counter
three tequila bottles on counter - FILO Liquors/Facebook

If you're looking for an organic tequila option — either for yourself or to impress the gang at the next poker night — look no further than 123 Organic Tequila. This brand meets the standards for being certified organic in both the U.S. and in Europe, and it has several award-winning options that are all great choices. Its Blanco is an easy-drinking clear tequila that's heavy on the agave sweetness; the Reposado has a caramel-y vibe that makes it perfect for dessert; while the woody richness of the Añejo makes it a great choice for an after-dinner treat. Looking for something a little more complex? Try the Extra Añejo (Diablito) or be sure to pick up some of its limited releases.

The price point on these can vary depending on which one you chose, but generally sits at somewhere between $55 and $70. (Looking for a more in-depth analysis? Check out this discussion on what separates the different types of tequila.)

Ocho Reposado

Ocho Reposado bottles with agave background
Ocho Reposado bottles with agave background - Amazon

Ocho Tequila boasts being one of the few tequilas that's still made the old-school way: This additive-free, artisanal tequila comes from slow-roasted agave that is harvested only when they reach seven to 10 years old. They're cut by hand, slow-cooked in brick ovens, then crushed and fermented. If that sounds like a lot of work, it is — but it's totally worth it. The idea was to create a tequila that doesn't need to hide behind mixers, can stand alone, and captures the spirit of what makes tequila such a long-time favorite.

All of Ocho's offerings are respectable options, but we went with the Reposado as our favorite for an on-the-rocks or straight drink. There's a richness to this one that's not necessarily in the Blanco — which isn't always a bad thing — and it comes with a nutty, butterscotch flavor that's almost got a note of coffee about it. This makes it an excellent after-dinner drink, and given that a bottle will set you back only about $50 to $60, it's one that you can enjoy guilt-free, even when there's not a special occasion to celebrate.

Enemigo 89 Añejo Cristalino

Enemigo 89 Anejo Cristalino bottle
Enemigo 89 Anejo Cristalino bottle - Master of Malt

Anyone who's had a bad experience with tequila is familiar with that bite that usually comes with a sub-par bottle. If those memories are keeping you from trying tequila again, we have the perfect bottle for you: the Enemigo 89 Añejo Cristalino. Clocking in at around $70 a bottle, it's not going to break the bank, but it is going to help open doors for the most cynical, would-be tequila drinker.

What makes it stand out from the crowd? This offering from Enemigo Tequila is aged for at least a year, so it has all the flavors anyone could want from a great tequila. It's a lighter, more citrus-forward tequila than some — which makes it perfectly suited to drinking with a slice of lemon or lime — with none of that bite. That's all removed in its triple-filtration process that removes impurities and results in that clarity that makes it worthy of the name Cristalino. And the "89"? That comes from the number of experimental batches that went into getting this one right.

Fortaleza Blanco Still Strength

Fortaleza Blanco Still Strength bottle
Fortaleza Blanco Still Strength bottle - Master of Malt

Seeing something that's still strength usually means that it's going to make your toes curl, but Fortaleza's Blanco Still Strength is such a good tequila, it's great on the rocks nevertheless. We also like it because it's a great example of what agave should taste like: sweet and earthy at the same time, slightly peppery, a little salty, with some citrus notes that give it a bite, but not a sting. It's no slouch at 92 proof, and we also like the idea that you're getting a bottle of something that was once pretty exclusive. Its still strength tequila was once only available during distillery tours, but if that makes it sound super expensive, don't worry.

Depending on your location, you're likely able to pick up a bottle for between $52 and $90. We'd definitely recommend keeping an eye out for this one, picking it up when it's on the cheap side, and stowing it on the shelf for one of those evenings that you just want to treat yourself.

Montelobos Mezcal

Montelobos Mezcal bottle with small glass
Montelobos Mezcal bottle with small glass - Amazon

Montelobos Mezcal has a pretty fascinating pedigree: It's the brainchild born of a partnership between a fifth-generation mezcalero and a doctor in botany who specializes in agave. Science and tradition have come together to create a pretty incredible product that not only has rave reviews across multiple sites, but is repeatedly lauded as a brilliant example of what makes mezcal different from other kinds of tequila. One of the things that sets mezcal apart is a smokiness of flavor that's very, very forward in this one, so while it's an experience that's a little different than your typical tequila, it's totally worth it.

Montelobos has won a slew of awards for its mezcal, but you wouldn't know it by the price tag: There's a good chance you can pick up a bottle for around $40. It's smooth enough that it's fine on the rocks, but the smoky flavor might be a bit too much. But that's fine — we also love this one in a sour cocktail because that smokiness balances sour notes pretty perfectly.

(Want to know more about mezcal? We have you covered with everything you ever wanted to know about mezcal, and you can continue with our in-depth look at the differences between tequila and mezcal.)


Herradura ultra bottle
Herradura ultra bottle - Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

We're recommending Herradura as a whole because there's no way you're going to go wrong with any of its products. Its standard bottles hover at around $50, and there's a reason the distillery has been in business since the 1870s: It's just good tequila. Casa Herradura is actually the birthplace of both reposado and extra añejo, so trust that it knows what it's doing.

Herradura's Reposado is still winning awards in the 21st century, and is lauded for the way that it accents that forward agave flavor with buttery, gingery goodness. If you're looking for something that's a little more on the spicy and smoky side, there's the equally award-winning Añejo. Love vanilla? Try the Silver, which has the bonus of being generally a little more on the affordable side, but is just as good — particularly when it's used in your favorite tequila cocktails. (Yes, that's true for even those tequila cocktails that aren't margaritas.)

Casa Noble

Casa Noble bottle
Casa Noble bottle - Master of Malt

Casa Noble is another brand that you can't go wrong with, and it's a safe investment at around $60 a bottle. What makes it stand out from the crowd? Instead of using the more traditional American oak barrels, Casa Noble uses French oak. Not only does it just sound more fancy, it also means that each one of these bottles contains more fully, completely developed flavors that aren't going to leave you debating over whether those are notes of vanilla or caramel.

So, which should you go for? If you're looking for something to drink straight or on the rocks, you're not going to go wrong with any of them. If you prefer lighter citrus flavors, opt for the Blanco. If you want some rich, buttery caramel flavors, opt for some of its other varieties — which brings us to the perfect place to talk about getting the most out of that bottle. While it might be tempting to chill a bottle in the freezer so you can enjoy it ASAP, the freezer is not the place for tequila. Serve it too cold, and you're going to lose some of those amazing aromas that make Casa Noble a must-try.

Codigo 1530 (Rosa)

Codigo 1530 bottle with glass and limes
Codigo 1530 bottle with glass and limes - Amazon

Sometimes, there's just no regular bottle of tequila that seems right. If you're looking for the perfect bottle for a romantic dinner, an anniversary, or an intimate birthday celebration, look no further than the Codigo 1530 Rosa. Rosé might be something that comes to mind more readily with wine, and that actually ties directly into how this particular offering is made: It's aged in barrels that were used for Cabernet wines in the Napa Valley.

Sounds pretty amazing, right? It is — and BBC GoodFood agrees, giving this 5/5 stars and calling it their favorite out of the line of all the impressive Codigo 1530 tequilas. While most tequilas might have an agave sweetness or a caramel and vanilla vibe going on, this one has a pleasantly surprising floral-and-strawberry flavor that we love for a few reasons. Not only does it make for a wonderful tequila, but it's a great way to add something unique to the regular rotation. It's also a great way to introduce someone to tequila who might be unsure of whether or not they're going to like it, and at around $60 a bottle, there's no way to go wrong.

Siete Leguas Blanco

Siete Leguas Blanco bottle
Siete Leguas Blanco bottle - Wine & Liquor Warehouse

While gin or vodka might be more predictable, there's no reason in the world not to whip up a batch of tequila martinis for your next fancy dinner party (or, you know, Taco Tuesday). Completely ordinary days can sometimes use a little dressing up, and that's where Siete Leguas Blanco comes in. Let's start with the fact that you can typically pick up a bottle for around $50, which means it's not necessary to save this one for a special occasion — Tuesday is absolutely fine.

Then, let's continue with the fact that this unaged tequila has a lovely sweetness that makes it perfectly acceptable straight or on the rocks, but it really shines when it's in the kind of cocktail that doesn't have a lot of overpowering ingredients — like a martini. There's no point in drinking a cocktail if you're hiding the alcohol you're putting into it, right? And Siete Leguas really comes alive when it's shaken, releasing lovely citrus and grass notes that might go overlooked without that extra step. There's also a slightly minty flavor to this one, which goes pretty perfectly with some of those fresh limes you're going to have on hand.

1800 Cristalino Añejo

1800 Cristalino Anejo bottle and glass
1800 Cristalino Anejo bottle and glass - Passion Spirits

That old saying about not judging a book by its cover has been around for a long time for a reason — hence why you can't always judge a liquor by its bottle. Sometimes, though, you just want a statement piece — and whether it's something to sit on the top shelf of your home bar or to take to a holiday dinner with the in-laws, there's nothing wrong with picking something eye-catching and decorative. And when it's affordable? All the better for you, and no, you don't have to tell. 1800 Cristalino Añejo looks like it costs much more than a reasonable $65 or so per bottle, and it follows that fancy bottle up with a very good tequila.

One of the things that we really like about this one is the complexity. This develops from the multi-step aging process that starts in French and American oak barrels and finishes in casks previously used for port wine. With these added layers of flavors that might not be present in other tequilas, it's a great option for enjoying on the rocks.

Prospero Tequila

Prospero Tequila bottle
Prospero Tequila bottle - Master of Malt

For those who might be looking for a less agave-forward tequila, Prospero Blanco might just be what you're looking for. It's lauded for a smooth finish and light, floral flavors that make for a tequila that's lacking in some of the characteristic sweetness that many agave-heavy spirits come from, which can be exactly what some prefer. It also offers a highly rated Reposado that similarly has a more floral flavor than an agave one, and even if you're unsure of whether or not it's for you, the roughly $50 price tag means that you're not going to regret giving this one a try.

There's another bonus here, too: The driving force behind Prospero is singer-songwriter Rita Ora. While celebrity-owned and -endorsed brands are nothing new, Ora told The Spirits Business that she opted to get involved with the tequila market specifically to add a female voice to the industry through her partnership with female distillers. "It's usually wine or Prosecco, and I feel like this was such a male-dominated aspect of alcohol that I was like, 'Why not try and get into this game?' and have a really good shot at it," she explained. Looking for a meaningful choice for the next girls' night get-together? Look no further.

Rooster Rojo

Rooster Rojo bottle and glass
Rooster Rojo bottle and glass - Amazon

While there's something to be said for a tequila brand that does things well and the traditional way, there's room for the young upstarts, too. Enter: Rooster Rojo. One of the things we like about this brand is that in addition to the typical Reposado and Blanco options, it has a few unique types. Its Smoked Pineapple is tequila that's not only infused with pineapple, but aged in bourbon barrels for a fruity, smoky flavor that's completely different than what one might be expecting from a tequila. It also has a spicy, earthy Ahumado, which adds a pretty amazing extra dimension to any cocktail it's used in.

The standards are nothing to scoff at, either, with varieties like its Reposado getting accolades for its rich yet smooth woody, fruity, and vanilla symphony of flavors. In most areas, you can expect to pay about $50 a bottle for these, making it a great brand for everyday drinkability and making sure you've got a go-to win.

Now that you're armed with some information about some more affordable yet respectably delicious tequila options, check out everything you need to know about Clase Azul.


tequila shots with lime slices
tequila shots with lime slices - Pjohnson1/Getty Images

We went into this with a bit of an advantage, which is that we've gotten over our college-age tequila mistakes thanks to several of the brands on our list. We didn't just list our favorites, though — we compiled this list with a few things in mind, including reviews from several different sources. We looked for a general consensus on drinkability, straight or on the rocks, reasoning that if it's good straight, it'll be good in a cocktail. We also looked at average price points across the country, and asked ourselves: Is this tequila suitable for anything, from keeping in your home bar to taking to a dinner party or a D&D session where the party's taking on the BBEG? Tequila is best shared, so we also considered accessibility and the likelihood it would be enjoyed by tequila newcomers and connoisseurs alike.

Read the original article on Mashed