Fortaleza is made by fifth-generation tequilero Guillermo Sauza (yes, that Sauza, though the family sold off its eponymous brand decades ago), who in the 1990s sought to re-create the tequila his great-great-grandfather made a century before. The agave is crushed by a traditional tahona (or stone wheel), fermented in small wooden vats, and distilled in tiny copper-pot stills for maximum quality control. Notably, Fortaleza is a "lowlands" tequila, which is made from agave that takes longer to ripen than highlands versions and typically has a sweeter flavor. Sure enough, Fortaleza is silky smooth, coming on sweet and a little spicy – like coconut candy with a touch of cinnamon – but leaves you with a briny finish, almost like a salted glass rim. Most of our other picks in this roundup are of the highlands variety, but Fortaleza is, to us, perfection. [$60; qualityliquorstore.com]
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