We pay for that last shot all the same.

In celebration of the much beloved (non)holiday that is International Tequila Day, we've decided to get a definitive answer to the age old debate:

Is expensive tequila really worth it?

If the destination is all the same, does it matter how you get there? Sure, we'd all rather roll up to the party in an Aston Martin than a Honda Civic, but at what point should you pull back for something a bit more...ground level? 

In defence of...

There is, so I'm told, a significant difference in taste. This difference is largely beyond my palate, but for those of you more refined than I, it's worlds apart. Regardless of whether you and I can discern the said difference is not the principle concern. It's what the overarching quality of the flavour indicates. 

We've all thrown back nasty shots. These shots were in all likelihood poured from bottles known as "mixto". Mixto tequilas are fermented with up to 49% non-agave sugars, some making use of cheap cane sugar with horrid additives like glycerine, caramel colouring, sugar syrup, as well as oak and almond extract. 

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This is a blatant cheating of the system, as they can still legally call it tequila when it's essentially half and half. This is also how you get a bitch of a hangover. I mean sure, you shave a few dollars off production costs and bump up the profit margins, but is it even actually tequila at that point? Half and half. In what other field is that legal? Imagine being given a half dose penicillin by a doctor. There'd be less of us standing. Of course, you'll never catch any producers labelling their stuff with "mixto". That'd be a death sentence. Instead, they'll just omit a certain key phrase that is the golden assurance for quality. So what's this phrase you should be looking out for? 

Real tequila is made from blue agave. You should never drink anything that doesn't say it's "100% blue agave" 

Obviously this means paying a bit more to lick salt and suck limes, but it also means you're getting what you rightfully deserve. Interpret that as you will... 

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And all against...

As always, the Yankees always win because no one can keep their eyes off those damn pinstripes. And by that I mean all the bells and whistles, all the flashy George Clooney endorsements, and vast stretch of expertly designed labels will always (always) blur the line between true quality and ridiculous hype. Not to name names, but there are certainly more than a few cases of the emperor's new clothes, or the man who sold the Brooklyn Bridge... twice. Be wary of the actual taste, and quit eyeballing those damn blue pinstripes. It's the mark of the blue agave you really want. 

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The verdict

The lesson here that dangerously borders on fence-sitting is that paying more doesn't always mean you're getting what your bank statement reads. The undeniable mark of a value here is in the production label. But, for the sake of surrendering a definitive answer: yes, pricier tequila is worth itNote the use of "pricier" in place of "expensive", and maybe place a casual "generally" there somewhere. 

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Related: The difference between cheap & expensive whisk(e)y