This post will explain what it is, the difference between Añejo tequila and other classifications, what to look for when purchasing Añejo tequila, and make a few recommendations to help you get started.
Añejo tequila is considered the best tequila for sipping, so read this post before you waste that bottle on frozen drinks or another tequila cocktail.
How Añejo Tequila is Made
Añejo is a term for aged or old in Spanish, so it's no coincidence that it's aged between 1 and 3 years inside an oak barrel before it's bottled and sold.
More expensive varieties and numbered bottles are often made as small-batch Añejo or made for a rare variety of agave the agave plan.
The longer the tequila has sat in the oak barrel, the older the Añejo will be, and the sweeter and smoother it often is. That said, any tequila that's been aging for longer than 3 years is classified as Extra Añejo tequila.
Related: How Tequila is Made
The Difference Between Tequila and Añejo
While all tequilas are made from the agave plant, not all tequilas are the same. Añejo tequila is a classification of that distilled alcohol that provides proof that the tequila has aged anywhere between 1 and 3 years.
There are different classifications or varieties of tequilas based on the way it was distilled or whether it was aged before bottling.
Basic or regular tequila and Blanco Tequila (same thing, different terms), are bottled immediately after being distilled, while Añejo tequila is distilled and then stored in oak barrels to age.
Blanco tequila is best used in mixed drinks and cocktails, while Añejo is considered a sipping tequila since it has a smoother taste and hints of oak and caramel flavors.
What Does it Taste Like?
Añejo tequila often feels sweet on the lips and tends to have a caramel-like taste and a cinnamon-like hint from the oak barrels.
Of course, these flavors always vary by the brand since each distillery has its own process for aging its tequila.
Sipping tequila is a term used to describe high-quality, typically aged, tequila that is smooth enough to sip on straight.
It can be sipped out of a traditional shot glass, a sipping glass, or a low ball glass. It can be served at room temperature, chilled, or on the rocks (over ice).
Is it Good Straight?
Añejo tequila is delicious without needing any type of mix added to it at all. It has a smoothness that's good enough to sip on, feels sweet on the lips, and warm like honey down the throat.
Añejo has much less of a peppery bite than traditional blanco or silver tequila used for making drinks.
Is Añejo the Smoothest?
The smoothest tequila will vary by the brand, aging process, and the type of flavor notes your tastebuds consider smooth.
When compared to other tequila classifications, both Añejo tequila and Extra Añejo tequila are the smoothest. A close competitor would be Reposado tequila, that's also good enough to sip on as well.
Where to Buy Good Añejo
While you might be able to find good Añejo at your local liquor store, there's a good chance that you're going to pay top dollar for it and that they only carry the most popular varieties.
Good Añejo can cost between $50 and several hundred dollars, with limited editions in the thousands. Pricing is based on the length of time the Añejo is aged, the size of the batch, the bottle, and so on.
If you're just getting started with sipping tequila, you'll find a few affordable recommendations below.
What Mixes Well with Anejo?
Just about anything will mix well with Anejo tequila, and if your budget permits it, it's also ok to use in premium margaritas like the Cadillac Margarita.
Some people add a splash of water, carbonated water or soda, or an ice cube to chill it and water it down a little.