New premium tequilas come along so often it's hard to tell the good stuff from the bad. The market may be booming with novel new blends, fancy bottles (which almost always hide mediocre juice), and ridiculous price tags for the aged stuff, but it's still rare to find a truly great new tequila. That's why we were dubious of the new Qui Platinum Extra Añejo Tequila, which – despite being barrel-aged for more than three years to earn its "extra añejo" status – does not have the tawny color of most añejos aged in oak barrels. Instead, it's as clear as a blanco, the result of being filtered nine times after the aging process, then distilled a third time. You might think all this filtering would strip the tequila of its aged wood flavor, making it into not much more than agave-brewed vodka.
But that's not what happens with Qui.
What comes out is subtle, sweet, slightly spicy – Qui is not a rugged tequila, for sure, but it's a smooth sipper that still retains a hint of the agave edge. The company, which hired longtime Herradura master distiller Miguel Cedeño to oversee its operations, has stumbled onto a great new formula – and, at $55 a bottle, it's far less expensive than most of the overrated extra añejos out there. As company co-founder Pete Girgis told us: "There are walls full of tequilas at every liquor store these days. We wanted to make one you will remember." [$55; quitequila.com]