Feliz Navidad!

Tequila, along with its often smokier cousin Mezcal, have a reputation for being strictly summertime sippers, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. There’s nothing more enjoyable than a dram of fine tequila or deeply complex mezcal next to a fire on a cold night. If you’ve got an agave lover looking for something new to sip this holiday season, here are a few of the coolest bottles guaranteed to make a tasty gift.

Photo courtesy of Código Mezcal Artesanal

Código Mezcal Artesanal

Vitals: 84.4 Proof (42.2% ABV), $65

Entering the Mezcal space is Código 1530, a five-generation tequila company from the celebrated Amatitán, Mexico region. Código 1530 is known for traditional production methods like earthen ovens and burro-pulled tahona wheels. It may be inefficient, but they believe it makes better tequila, and this outstanding Sauvignon Blanc barrel-finished Mezcal Código 1530 is no different. Look for vanilla, citrus, fruit, a hint of organic grass, clay, all enveloped in a warming cloak of smoke.


Photo courtesy of El Bandido Yankee

El Bandido Yankee Reposado

Vitals: 80 Proof (40% ABV); $45

El Bandido Yankee marries a killer tequila with a good cause by teaming up with S.A.C.R.E.D., a not-for-profit that improves rural Mexican communities. Produced at the historic El Viejito Distillery in Atotonilco El Alto, Jalisco, this tequila finds its flavors through a process of oxygenation, where micro-oxygen bubbles are mixed with the tequila, evaporating undesirable compounds and highlighting a lighter finish. Honey and citrus flavors are balanced with earthy agave and oak, finishing long, floral, and bright.


Photo courtesy of Mezcal Campante

Mezcal Campante Joven

Vitals: 80 Proof (40% ABV); $65

Mezcal Campante’s goal was to bring a lighter mezcal to market that wasn’t so intimidating and smoother and easier to sip, and the result is an excellent choice for new drinkers. They combined the sweetness of Espadín agave with earthy flavors and gently smoked Barril agaves to create this mild but flavorful mezcal. Look for citrus notes with hints of mint and earthy notes, like pine, grass, and clay with a lingering smoky finish.

Want a discount code? Use promo code LOVEHARDSIPSLOW at checkout to save 10% off your purchase!


Photo courtesy of El Tesoro

El Tesoro Tequila Finished In Laphroaig Barrels

Vitals: 80 Proof (40% ABV); $125

El Tesoro’s experimental Mundial Collection features tequila finished in unusual barrels, and the latest is The Laphroaig Edition. El Tesoro aged its tequila nine months in ex-bourbon barrels before transferring the liquid into smoky Laphroaig 10 Years Old Single Malt Scotch casks for an additional four months. The result is surprisingly restrained; the peat flavor is artfully balanced with roasted pepper, agave, maple, citrus, and saline flavors.


Photo courtesy of Mezcal Amara?s

Mezcal Amarás Logia

Mezcal Amarás Logia Cenizo: 86 Proof (43% ABV), $85; Mezcal Amarás Logia Sierra Negra: 86 Proof (43% ABV), $125; Mezcal Amarás Logia Tobalá: 86 Proof (43% ABV), $150

Casa Amarás collaborates with over 18 Maestro Mezcaleros using a spectrum of agave strains to create artisanal and ancestral mezcal expressions. Mezcal Amarás Logia Cenizo is distilled with 14-year-old wild Cenizo agave and Sierra Negra sneaks peppercorns and chili peppers into their recipe. The rarest and collectible bottle is Tobalá, an ancestral mezcal. All ancestral mezcals are cooked in a traditional oven, milled with a tahona wheel, and afermented and distilled with bagasse in clay pots.


Image courtesy of Corazón

Corazón Tequila Expresiones Del Corazón

Vitals: 80 Proof (40% ABV); $60-$80

Here’s a must-try for bourbon fans who also love tequila. Buffalo Trace Distillery and Corazón Tequila teamed up to age tequila in barrels that have housed the whiskey companies finest stocks. William Larue Weller and George T. Stagg barrel-aged Añejo tequilas from the BT’s Antique Collection and a reposado tequila aged in an Elmer T. Lee barrel are examples. Each barrel imparts its unique flavors to the tequila, making them fun to taste side-by-side to explore the different wood influences.


Photo courtesy of Mezcal Lejana y Sola

Mezcal Lejana y Sola Artesanal Joven

Vitals: 84 Proof (42% ABV); $60

Mezcal Lejana y Sola Artesenal relies on labor-intensive processes like fermenting in open-air wooden tanks to make their mezcal, resulting in a spirit that harkens back to simpler times when things took longer but tasted better. Here, sweet Espadín agave is blended with drier notes of the wild Cuishe variety, resulting in light floral notes, sugar, and vanilla balanced with funky earth and straw notes and just a wisp of smoke.


Photo courtesy of PaQuí

PaQuí Silvera Tequila

Vitals: 80 Proof (40% ABV); $50

PaQuí Silvera Tequila waits up to 12 years before plucking the pinas out of the ground, ensuring maximum maturity, with smoother, more consistent flavors and complexity, and none of the bitterness you find in tequilas made with young agave. PaQuí features sweet, fruity notes like punchy orange and citrus, plus herbs and spices like mint and pepper. Perfect for margaritas or on the rocks.


Photo courtesy of Doña Vega

Doña Vega Tobala Mezcal

Vitals: 86 Proof (43% ABV); $130

Many believe all mezcal is smoked, but many of the finest mezcals are not smoked at all. Enter Dona Vega Tobala Mezcal, a lighter spirit distilled from the juice of the Tobala agave, a wild variety that is hard to grow and takes up to 12 years to mature. The result is a sweet nose with light smokiness and hints of vanilla and cocoa, including oak, strawberry, and apple.


Clint Lanier is a professor in the English Department of New Mexico State University. He is also the co-author of Drunken History, Bucket List Bars: Historic Saloons, Pubs, and Dives of America, and Craptails: the World’s Worst, Weirdest, and Most Disturbing Drinks. He has also written about spirits and travel for The Huffington Post, Fodors, Eater, and Liquor.com.