While most tequila brands come in at a standard 40% ABV (or 80 proof), there are a number of excellent agave choices that’ll hit 43, 45, 50 or even 55% ABV. They’re not always easy to find, though they might have “distill proof” or “still strength” in small letters on the label.
There are plenty of reasons to go big: These higher- or overproof tequilas won’t get lost in mixed drinks. If you’re a fan of actual agave flavor, you’ll pick it up more in these extra-proof expressions. And for seasoned drinkers, that 40% ABV might feel a little tepid and arbitrary — while it does offer a nice sensory and taste balance, that number is somewhat related to taxation as opposed to what’s best for the drink.
Below, 10 standout tequilas that up the proof for all the right reasons (beyond “more buzz”). Note that many of these are limited-edition and hard to find.
Tequila G4 Blanco Madera
Felipe Camarena’s family has been crafting tequila in Los Altos de Jalisco since 1937. G4’s 90-proof blanco is citrusy and grassy, with a slight minerality, an exquisite mouthfeel and a hint of cloves. The brand does a bunch of funky fermentation experiments across its line of tequilas, which includes an excellent, higher-proof 6-Year Extra Añejo (and they also do a Blanco 108).
Suerte Still Strength Blanco
Sold out online after its Aug. 7 launch — but available in some stores in September — these 1,530 bottles honor the Norma Oficial Mexicana (NOM) of Suerte, which is, natch NOM 1530. This 104-proof release (no water was added to proof it down) comes from a brand that uses a traditional tahona to crush the pinas while also being from a dedicated distillery, two rare feats in the modern tequila world. As for the taste? The vegetal and roasted agave notes are strong here, with a hint of citrus and white pepper on the finish.
Tequila Ocho Puntas
A brand obsessed with terroir, Tequila Ocho is headed up by co-founder and master distiller Carlos Camarena, a 5th-generation agave farmer and 3rd-generation tequilero. Utilizing single estate agave harvests and releasing yearly vintages, Puntas is a “distiller’s cut,” usually set aside for VIPs at the distillery. It’s a cut from the very end of the heads and beginning of the heart; coming in at 101 proof — it is proofed down using nearby well-extracted water — it’s full of notes of cooked agave, pineapple, cut grass, baking spices and more.
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Fortaleza Blanco Still Strength
A bit more rustic, earthy and vegetal than its regular blanco, Fortaleza’s roots date back over a century (though the brand itself only relaunched in 2005). They’re decidedly old school, utilizing a small brick oven, a tahona, wood tanks for fermentation and two of the original copper pot stills used for distillation.
El Luchador Distill Proof
Recently relaunched and inspired by lucha libre masked wrestlers, this modestly-priced line of tequilas features Reposado- and Anejo-aged expressions that rested in French white oak barrels that once held the wines of Puligny Montrachet. Interesting, but we’re here for the 55% ABV Distill-Proof Blanco Tequila, a surprisingly sweet and unsurprisingly robust spirit that should be your base for any tequila cocktail.
Pueblo Viejo Blanco 104
If your local bar uses this blanco for shots, you’re in luck: While lacking character, Pueblo Viejo is incredibly smooth (even the overproof 104 release) with a slight sweetness and notes of citrus.
Tears of Llorona
Fermented with a proprietary yeast, this extra añejo tequila (43% ABV) is distilled twice in copper pot stills and then aged in three types of oak barrels — ex-Scotch, sherry and brandy — for five years. The cooked agave flavors here remain intact, with some sweeter butterscotch, chocolate and dark fruit notes rounding out this exceptional sipper.
One of the earliest certified organic tequilas and now additive-free certified as well, Dulce Vida is also one of the early adopters of flavored (well, infused) tequila. But the biggest differentiator? The distillery offers 100-proof releases of its blanco, reposado, añejo and extra añejo release, giving each bolder and more concentrated flavor.
Codigo 1530 Estate Harvest Still Strength
Instead of aging this blanco tequila inside French White Oak barrels, Codigo 1530 instead fermented this 2022 limited-edition blanco inside the ex-wine barrels. Made with only agave that is grown on distillery-owned land, this one features notes of cherry blossom, maple, vanilla, cloves and even pumpkin seed. The distillery also offers a barrel-strength añejo.
A unique limited-edition bottle that references an old and currently rarely used Hispanic-Peruvian production method of distilling the fermented aguamiel while the yeast is still living. Coming in at 95 proof with no water dilution, the Exclusivo is wonderfully sweet, silky, fruity and peppery, while still maintaining its cooked agave flavor and a nice minerality.
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