As with all things in life, not all tequilas are created equal. Some are perfect for Margaritas while others are meant for sipping neat, and some tequilas aren’t actually tequila at all (looking at you, Jose Cuervo). No matter what purpose they serve, there is no denying that tequila’s popularity has skyrocketed in recent years. And with an abundance of labels available on shelves, tequila drinkers have no shortage of options to choose from.
To determine where the tequila market stands, magazine Drinks International rounded up the top 10 best-selling tequila brands at 100 of the world’s top bars. Rather than displaying raw sales figures from each global market, the Drinks International Brands Report reflects responses to a detailed questionnaire completed by a targeted list of bars featured on major accolade lists and a small percentage of bars chosen by the Drinks International’s editors.
While a handful of brands have continued to dominate the sector, recent years have seen celebrity influence drastically alter the top-shelf tequila scene. The tides, though, seem to be turning. As celebrity tequila brands become more associated with diffuser production and artificial additives, many agave aficionados — including those at the world’s top bars — are turning to more traditionally produced spirits. Casamigos is the sole celebrity tequila on this year’s list, a possible indicator that high-end bars have brought it onto their back bars as a familiar bottle for guests. Its 10th-place position also challenges the withheld narrative that the celebrities are controlling the tequila industry.
Curious to see what the top 10 best-selling tequila brands are in 2023? Check out the list below to see if your favorite made the cut.
Co-created by George Clooney in 2013, Casamigos is arguably the most well-known celebrity tequila on the market, and its $1 billion sale to Diageo just four years after its founding only furthered its success. The brand now offers blanco, reposado, cristalino, and añejo expressions.
Distilled at the world-renowned La Alteña in the highlands of Jalisco, Tequila Tapatio was founded in 1940 by agave farmer Don Filipe Camarena. Produced using the traditional tahona method to this day, Tapatio is available in blanco, reposado, and añejo expressions. Also among its offerings: Blanco 110, one of the booziest tequilas in the world, and Tequila Tapatio Excelencia Gran Reserva Extra Añejo, one of the oldest. It’s those last two selections that allowed Tapatio to attract a cult-like following and secure its position as many bartenders’ top choice.
Herradura, which translates from Spanish to “horseshoe,” was established in 1870 in the lowlands of Jalisco near the base of Tequila Volcano. The tequila is produced using 100 percent Blue Weber agave and the brand actually created the reposado and extra añejo categories.
Founded in 2005, Fortaleza has catapulted in popularity in recent years, cementing itself as a bartender favorite for its lush agave notes that can only be achieved through tahona production. The brand was started by Guillermo Erickson, whose ancestors were the first to utilize steam to cook blue agave and were responsible for the creation of the tequila appellation. The spirit is currently available in blanco, blanco still strength, reposado, and añejo expressions.
6. El Jimador
El Jimador is produced from 100 percent Blue Weber agave harvested in Amatitán in the lowlands of Jalisco. The brand’s name pays homage to this harvesting process, as “jimador” is the title for the tequila farmers who have worked in the region for generations. The spirit is currently available in silver, reposado, and añejo offerings, each of which is distilled twice before being bottled at the estate.
5. Jose Cuervo
As one of the most well-known tequilas on the market, it’s no shock that Jose Cuervo ranks in the top five. The brand rose in popularity in the U.S. following the repeal of Prohibition, during which tequila was smuggled across the Mexican border. While undeniably linked with lower-end mixto varieties, Jose Cuervo does offer some traditional tequilas such as its plata, reposado, and añejo expressions, as well as the Reserva de la Familia collection.
4. Tequila Ocho
Tequila Ocho was founded on the belief that tequila has a terroir of its own, which can be better expressed through a more traditional, slow-style method of tequila production. Currently offered in plata, reposado, añejo, añejo single barrel, and extra añejo single barrel, each bottle of Tequila Ocho is labeled with the spirit’s agave selection location and year of production.
3. Olmeca Altos
Olmeca Altos was founded by bartenders Henry Besant and Dre Masso, so it should come as no surprise that the brand would become highly favored among those in the trade. Produced at Destilería Colonial de Jalisco in Los Altos in partnership with Maestro Tequilero Jesús Hernandez, Olmeca Altos is available in plata, reposado, and añejo expressions.
Ubiquitous on back bars around the globe, Patrón is one of the most famous tequila brands in the world. While the popularity of Patrón clearly can’t be denied, Drinks International suggests it could be mellowing conversation-wise: When it came to the top 10 most trending tequila brands, Patrón came in 10th out of 10. The tequila giant currently offers silver, reposado, añejo, and extra añejo expressions in addition to super-premium selections like El Cielo, El Alto, and the Gran Patrón line.
1. Don Julio
For the eighth year in a row, Don Julio tops the list as the top-selling tequila brand. However, Drinks International did reveal that the brand maintained only a slight lead on its competitors. The brand touts itself as the world’s first premium luxury tequila, with that reputation upheld with the wildly popular and oft-mimicked Don Julio 1942. In addition to the super-premium expression, the brand also offers a blanco, reposado, añejo, the 70 Añejo Claro, and the Real, as well as special releases including its Double Cask, Private Cask, and Double Cask Lagavulin.