Review: Hornitos Black Barrel Tequila and Plata Tequila (2014)

Review: Hornitos Black Barrel Tequila and Plata Tequila (2014)

hornitos Black Barrel Bottle Image

The world’s love affair with whiskey has now come… to tequila.

Say hello to Hornitos Black Barrel, a unique spin on an Anejo from the Sauza-owned distillery. The production process is on the complex side, so let’s let Hornitos tell the tale for us:

Hornitos Black Barrel Tequila is redefining the premium tequila experience. Hornitos Black Barrel is a super smooth, triple aged, 100% agave tequila uniquely aged to embark distinct and complex whiskey notes. The tequila starts with 100% Hornitos Tequila, which is aged in traditional American Oak barrels [presumably ex-Bourbon barrels -Ed.] for 12 months. Once the soft, smooth, complex flavor of the Añejo tequila has been achieved, the liquid is placed in deeply charred American Oak barrels for four months to ensure that the tequila breathes through the caramelized layer of sugar, imparting the rich character, golden amber color and smoky notes traditionally found in whiskey. Lastly, the tequila is aged in specially-toasted American Oak barrels for two months to impart a creamier, vanilla character to add depth and complexity to the final spirit.

I’m still not entirely sure what all of that means, but the goal here is clearly to pump as much wood character (read: whiskey) into the tequila in as short a time as possible. Hornitos Black Barrel arrives on April 14 in limited release. Look for the black-frosted bottles.

Thoughts on both Black Barrel and a fresh review Hornitos Plata (last covered here (weakly) in 2007!), from which it is born, follow.

Hornitos Plata Tequila (2014) – Unaged, but it tastes like it has a bit of wood on it nonetheless. Fresh citrus (heavy on the lime) is on the nose, along with spicy agave. The palate is racy, but tempered by fruit. There are touches of pear, hints of mango, and hints of cinnamon, vanilla (that wood-seeming influence), and butterscotch. The body’s a little on the watery side, but overall it’s got a good kick and stands as a solid base from which to build some aged expressions, particularly at this rock-bottom price. 80 proof. A- / $17 [BUY IT NOW FROM TOTAL WINE]

Hornitos Black Barrel Tequila – At the outset, it’s a wholly different experience than pretty much any tequila I’ve ever had. (See if you can fool your friends!) The nose is distinctly whiskey-like, but what kind of whiskey is hard to say. I get notes of raw wood (foremost), VapoRub, brandied cherries, and a ginger spice that recalls Christmas cake, punched up with chili powder. The body largely follows suit. Chewy with vanilla and nougat with touches of fresh charcoal, it’s got a whiskey kick but it can’t mask that agave, at least after it opens up in the glass. Over time, Black Barrel develops more of a traditional anejo character, where agave and vanilla notes are a little more balanced. Unconventional — and purists will hate it — but tradition aside, it’s pretty good stuff. 80 proof. A- / $30 [BUY IT NOW FROM TOTAL WINE]

Hornitos Black Barrel Tequila




Christopher Null is the founder and editor in chief of Drinkhacker. A veteran writer and journalist, he also operates Null Media, a bespoke content creation company.


  1. Rich Conley on July 11, 2014 at 7:15 am

    This is some good stuff but hard to find in my immediate area. For the price it puts to shame El Tesoro Paradiso which used to be along the same line. Had some great bottles of Paradiso and then it began to taste like a “plain” anejo with no discernible taste from the cognac barrels it is supposedly aged in. Considering Paradiso is about $120 and Black Barrel at $30 it’s no contest. Purist can go suck a lime.

  2. Long Island Lou Tequilai on October 26, 2015 at 4:42 pm

    PLEASE… It may not be the worst thing I ever tasted but you can’t compare ANY version of EL Tesoro Paradiso Extra Anejo to Sauza Hornitos Black Barrel Tequila. This is a hybrid liquor made with a diffuser by one of the crappiest companies on the face of the Earth (Sauza) and the other is one of the most prestigious well made tequilas there is. NO COMPARISON… Please if you want to learn about Quality Tequila- check this out

  3. Barry on November 19, 2015 at 9:07 pm

    Don Pilar, extra anejo. Screw all other tequilas.

  4. Anonymous on April 25, 2016 at 7:18 pm

    Just bought duty free in Cozumel two bottles for $46, third bottle free.

  5. Anonymous on May 20, 2016 at 1:53 pm

    just bought it in mexico city (duty free) two bottles for us$40 third free.

  6. Rich Starinsky on May 21, 2016 at 2:32 pm

    Hey Long Island Lou you obviously don’t know shit about anything you’re an Islanders fan for crying out loud

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.