This tequila brand made me smile before I even popped the top on the bottle. That’s because Espólon tequila bottles don’t try to justify a high price with hand-blown glass or fancy caps. Instead they wrap the bottles in fantastic illustrations from the famous Mexican artist/printmaker José Guadalupe Posada.

He’s the artist who is most associated with the Day of the Dead figurines and illustrations. (See some of Espolon’s Day of the Dead cocktail recipes here.) Posada was also illustrating events during the Mexican Revolution 100 years ago as well, so it was an opportune time for the tequila company to launch this new packaging with appropriate prints.

What’s inside the bottles may immediately conjure up images of cantinas and brawls as well. This is a robust and hearty tequila, a far cry from the smooth—some would say wimpy—taste of Gran Centenario, Patron, or Siembra Azul. This tequila is from Los Altos too though—the highlands—which does give it a more floral and sweet nose than brands made at lower elevations. There’s a lot of intensity and complexity in the mix though once it hits your tongue.

For my tastes, it’s a bit too much when drinking it neat, especially at the 40% alcohol level that’s standard in the U.S. It works better in cocktails, which is where most tequila ends up outside Mexico anyway. I liked Espolón’s blanco version especially when put into a paloma or margarita. That took a bit of the edge off and let the varied flavors shine through.

Espolón’s blanco and reposado versions are both a screaming bargain, generally retailing for $18-$25. It’s almost impossible to find 100% agave tequila in the U.S. at that price point, so even if this were just barely above the likes of Jose Cuervo Gold it would be a deal. Fortunately it’s a big step above that rot-gut stuff.  If you’re having a party where you’ll need multiple bottles or you’re going to mix cocktails instead of sipping neat, but this brand in bulk before word gets out and they start raising the price!

Related Luxury Latin America feature: Tequila in Jalisco