1800 anejo tequilaThere are always a lot of great values in the tequila aisle of the liquor store, even if you’re not in Mexico. One of the best values is a bottle that normally sells for $35 to $45 but out-tastes some that sell for twice as much. The 1800 Añejo (aged) tequila is a fine sipping spirit that deserves a place in your den or consideration as a classy gift for a client.

It’s a shame that the Jose Cuervo name has been so tarnished by its cash cow product, the artificially colored dreck that’s most consumers’ first encounter with something called tequila. The company wisely keeps that name off the front of this pyramid-shaped, heavy glass bottle. In fact until I took the Cuervo Express train out to the distillery from Guadalajara, I didn’t even know 1800 was part of their portfolio.

When I did a private tasting after the tour, of course I expected the Reserva de la Familia to be great. This is the company’s pride and joy and it usually retails for more than $100 a bottle. I came away really impressed with this 1800 Añejo though and bought a bottle right then and there. I’ve pulled it out whenever I’ve had something to celebrate and every time I’m delighted.

This premium 1800 tequila is made from 100% blue agave and aged in French oak barrels for 14 to 30 months. In Mexico it’s 35% alcohol, which I find preferable for sipping, but in the international market it’s 40%. This is an easy one to find in duty free stores, so it’s a reliable choice to bring home or pick up as a last-minute gift. (If you’re using it for cocktails though, step down to the reposado or silver version.)

For most people, the first word that comes to mind after sipping this is either “smooth” or “delicious.” It’s very well-balanced and doesn’t have a lot of bite to it. That doesn’t mean it’s lacking in complexity though. Those who are in close touch with their palate will taste the usual caramel, clove, and vanilla notes, plus despite the aging there’s a fresh agave taste that isn’t overwhelmed by the oak. You may detect some hints of coconut, cinnamon, and orange peel as well.

The other defining characteristic of this aged tequila is the consistently good experience from beginning to end. The hefty glass bottle with wood stopper cap feels solid in the hand and the first whiff of the glass after pouring immediately makes me start salivating. It’s a pleasant sensation when it first rolls across the different taste buds in the mouth and the finish is equally satisfying. There’s a pleasant and harmonious lingering of the flavor elements after it’s long gone.

Hand me $45 to buy anything in the tequila section and I’ll gladly make this purchase again.

Get more info at the 1800 Tequila website.