When it comes to tequila, most people think of the light and dark varieties: blanco (unaged tequilas also known as silver) and añejo (aged for longer than a year in small oak barrels). But there's a middle ground that you might've missed out on. Reposado, which means "rested" in Spanish, is a tequila that has been aged in oak for at least two months, but less than a year—long enough to soften the spirit's signature bite but not so long that it starts to taste wooden. First invented back in the early 1970s, it's a happy medium that's ideal for all of your tequila needs. Taking shots? A reposado isn't quite so biting. Want to sip it on the rocks with a little lime? It's plenty mellow. And as for mixing into cocktails, it provides the earthy crispness you want without the sting. What's more, you can find quality bottles in a range of attainable prices. Herewith, four of our favorites from a recent taste test.
Aged: Seven months in
retired whiskey barrels
A small batch tequila made from hand-selected agaves, it's not shocking that this is the smoothest we tasted. A maple sweetness warms to a slight peppery finish.
$50, at BevMo
Aged: 364 days in
French oak barrels
Aged longer than most, it balances the sweet and spicy. Deep flavors of cherry and coffee are topped with a little kick at the end. But it's still mellow enough to sip.
$47, at Merwin Liquors
Jose Cuervo Tradicional
Aged: Six months in
white oak barrels
This straw-colored spirit is surprisingly smooth. The youngest of the bunch, it's got a generous punch of oak and flavors of fig and caramel with a warm, spicy finish.
$28, at Crown Wine & Spirits
Aged: 11 months in charred oak bourbon barrels
The most intense of the four but if you let it rest, it becomes briny and rich. You're first hit with bursts of cinnamon and pineapple which is then followed by a smoky finish.
$36, at Binny's