There was a time, not long ago, that Don Julio Tequilas were revered as THE Tequila of Tequilas throughout most of Mexico’s upper-echelon consumers. The bottle, the image, the name, the tequila in itself were all one step above everyone else. I got invited back to the homes of a few families during my trips to Mexico, and if they wanted to impress, there was a bottle of Don Julio Reposado on the table.
Now, history has a tendency to repeat itself, and the Gonzalez family (now with their own brand, Reserva de los Gonzalez) walked out of a long time mission with Don Julio and sold the brand to foreign interests.
Don Julio Tequila is named after its founder, Don Julio González-Frausto Estrada, who began distilling tequila in 1942 at the age of 17. Acknowledging the benefits of vertical integration (In microeconomics and management, the term vertical integration describes a style of management control. Vertically integrated companies in a supply chain are united through a common owner. Usually each member of the supply chain produces a different product or (market-specific) service, and the products combine to satisfy a common need.), Gonzalez-Frausto established his own distillery, La Primavera, and spent the next 40 years improving his craft. In 1985 Don Julio González-Frausto celebrated his 60th Birthday, and his sons gave him the greatest gift of all. A Tequila perfected over many years carrying his own name, Don Julio. Guests at the party asked if it would be available for sale. The word spread and before they knew it, the demand from Guadalajara and neighbouring cities became so big it made the choice very simple. Don Julio launched in 1987 and set the standard for all Tequilas in this category of style. It is considered to be the worlds first Luxury Tequila. Before this Tequila was considered a poor mans drink.
In 1999 the now defunct, The Seagram Company Ltd., had invested in Don Julio Tequila. The expanded agave plantations were a joint venture between the Gonzalez-Frausto, Funtanet, Andrade Rivera Torres, and Cuaik families. In 1999 Don Julio Gonzalez, delighted to forge a relationship with Seagram, stated, “I am proud that the Gonzalez-Frausto family joins with the Seagram family in a global effort behind Don Julio Tequila. I am committed to overseeing personally the agave plantations that are so vital to the superior and unique quality of the Tequila that bears my name.” Following the liquidation of The Seagram Company, Diageo PLC decided to acquire all the Don Julio brand in 2005 for 29,300 million Mexican Pesos or 2.2 million USD at time of sale and an undisclosed share swap to the Gonzalez-Frausto family for Diageo stock.
This brings us to Tales of the Cocktail that happened a couple of weeks ago, where Don Julio introduced their new product Don Julio 70 Anejo Claro. A revolutionary new technique called filtering is introduced, which basically takes all the color away from the Anejo, hence the “claro”. Why this is made is beyond my understanding. Filtering comes with a price, in this case, that price is flavour. The “70” stands for the 70 year anniversary of La Primavera distillery. So if I get this right, to celebrate 70 years of tradition, they make something very untraditional and completely without purpose. Well not completely without purpose, the price-tag went from around $40 to $70, so obviously someone is getting something out of it.
” Tequila Don Julio 70 originated from Master Distiller Enrique de Colsa’s special reserve and is being launched in honor of the 70th anniversary of the year Don Julio González began perfecting the art of tequila making. To create this unique masterpiece tequila, Tequila Don Julio hand selects the finest blue agave plants at the peak of their maturity. The agave is then hand harvested and twice distilled at La Primavera, the distillery founded by Don Julio González. Tequila Don Julio 70 is aged to perfection in reclaimed American white oak barrels for 18 months, then carefully filtered for extra smoothness and its unique clarity.” – Tequila.net
If you ask me, that is a load of bullshit. Salud Tequila Blanco!