Most of the world knows tequila best as a party spirit, with Don Julio being the center of attention. It’s the essential ingredient in a margarita and makes an excellent one-shot-wonder, to be consumed with a pinch of salt and a wedge of lime. So pervasive was this reputation that when some spirits drinkers were presented with the idea of a “luxury tequila,” they had trouble imagining a tequila drinker would want to sip instead of shoot.
Of course, Don Julio wasn’t the first truly fine tequila in the world—but it was the world’s first luxury tequila. Here, we’ll explore tequila production, which makes Don Julio so special, and present two genuinely outstanding examples of fine tequila.
What Is Tequila, Anyway?
Tequila is a type of mezcal—a spirit produced by distilling nectar from the agave plant. For a mezcal to earn legal classification as a tequila, it must be produced strictly from Weber’s blue agave plant and undergo production in Jalisco, Nayarit, Guanajuato, Tamaulipas, or Michoacán.
Harvesters remove the hearts, or pinas, from the center of the agave plants and roast them in special ovens to convert the starches into sugars. From there, the pinas ferment for about four days, and the liquid is distilled so that it reaches the required alcohol content. Then, the tequila is either aged in a cask of choice or bottled for sale.
How Don Julio Crafted Some of the World’s Finest Tequila
In 1942, Don Julio developed a procedure to produce higher-quality tequilas. Instead of packing as many blue agave plants into his fields as possible, Julio proposed giving each plant room to grow and mature fully. His passion for the spirit—as well as his unique dedication to quality over quantity—inspired a local businessman to grant him a loan, and Don Julio Tequila was born.
Julio selected only the best pinas for eventual fermenting. He developed a process that steamed each pina for a total of 72 hours for peak quality. When his luxury tequilas were finished, Julio chose to bottle them in a short tequila bottle. Tequila enthusiasts everywhere could share a bottle around the table instead of leaving them hidden beneath the table.
Don Julio’s Best—Don Julio 1942 and Don Julio Real
While each of Don Julio’s tequilas is something special, experts agree that two stand out above the others in this fine collection:
- Don Julio 1942. Crafted as an homage to Don Julio himself, this añejo is aged 2 ½ years in bourbon oak barrels. Then, it’s distilled a second time in a stainless-steel pot still, producing a rich, sweet tequila. Tasters note that 1942 has a full, creamy palate with hints of caramel and spice and a long, spicy finish.
- Don Julio Real. The crown jewel of the Don Julio selection. This tequila is worth the purchase based on the crystal and silver leaf decanter alone. However, the real treasure is found inside, with one of the world’s first extra-añejo tequilas, aged 3 to 5 years in American oak barrels. With tasting notes of coffee, vanilla, and wood, this supremely smooth tequila is one of the best in the world to sip neat.
Reserve Your Bottle Today
For a limited time only, Payless Liquors is pleased to offer bottles of Don Julio 1942 and Don Julio Real to our customers who truly enjoy fine sippable tequilas. Reserve your bottle at our East Street location and arrange for in-store or curbside pickup today.