The world of tequila operates, to a large extent, in the shadows. The basics are known: Agave tequilana (aka Blue Webar Agave) is harvested and cooked, the juice is extracted and distilled, and the result is tequila. But, as always, the devil is in the details.
There are many spirits companies that utilize production methods that are not only not evenly remotely traditional (despite their frequent claims), but they can even be damaging, both to the agave ecosystem and to the environment. And the resulting product often resembles true tequila is only a casual fashion.
As a result, I have put together a list of recommended tequilas. These are brands that use either traditional methods, or reasonable modern versions of them. (For example, they may use a stainless steel autoclave rather than a clay horno to steam the agave.)
In most cases, that means these are made by smaller companies, and thus their products may be harder to find and/or more expensive. But I think you’ll find that the effort is worth it.
I have not tried all of these (yet) myself. Living in a state like Virginia that is very un-tequila-friendly makes it challenging. But all of the products on this list are regarded as being at least good by the tequila community, and most of them are held in high esteem.
If you purchase or drink any of the tequilas on this list, you can be sure that you are getting a high quality product that is either made in the traditional fashion, or at least replicates it using modern techniques that I, at least, consider acceptable. (And, above all else, responsibly made tequilas do not use a diffuser at any stage of production.)
Responsibly Made Tequilas
Siembra Azul/Siembra Valles
I would also like to list a few brands that have some questions about them, but are still, in my opinion, good products that I enjoy drinking.