Don Julio Gonzalez – the Man Behind the Tequila

In 1942, in the hills of Jalisco, surrounding the village of Atotonilco El Alto, Don Julio Gonzalez founded his distillery, La Primavera; a region known for its rich red soil and ideal microclimate for growing agaves.


We’ve just launched our latest print magazine entitled Explore Gin, Tequila & Vodka, for your definitive guide to spirits or to share with your best spirits-loving friend.

In the magazine, we’ve highlighted the quintessential spirits brands on the market, and their roads to success.

Here, we’d like to share our feature on Don Julio Tequila, whose story begins in 1942 in the village of Atonolico, Mexico. Find the full story in the Explore Gin, Tequila & Vodka print magazine.

Don Julio Tequila

Don Julio Tequila

DON JULIO GONZALEZ BEGAN PRODUCING “Tres Magueyes” tequila (Maguey being another word for blue agave), which would quickly become one of the most widely available tequila brands in Mexico.

While Tres Magueyes was a good “standard tequila”, Don Julio Gonzalez’s passion to create great tequila would not allow him to settle for “good”. For over 40 years he painstakingly developed a process that would eventually produce the world’s first luxury tequila.

In 1985, to commemorate his 60th birthday, Don Julio Gonzalez’s sons threw a party featuring a batch of tequila called “La Reserva de Don Julio”, or “The Reserve of Don Julio”. This special tequila was wildly popular with Don Julio Gonzalez’s guests. Following the celebration, demand for his product skyrocketed and as a result, two years later, in honour of his 45 years in the tequila industry, he produced “Don Julio Reposado” and made it available to consumers. The introduction of this product, the world’s first luxury tequila, into the marketplace officially created the luxury tequila segment.

To this day the process perfected by Don Julio Gonzalez goes into every bottle that bears his name. Don Julio Gonzalez knew that creating superb tequila required using superior ingredients. For this reason, he owned his own agave fields and used only the best blue agaves planted farther apart than other growers. This extra room gave his plants more space to grow and fully mature into larger and sweeter plants.

After eight to twelve years the agaves are hand-harvested to remove the bitter leaves and ensure a uniform shape and size. Once the leaves are removed, the heart of the agaves, also called a piña for its similar appearance to a pineapple, are cut into quarters and placed into masonry ovens where they are steam cooked for 72 hours.

After cooking, the piñas are carefully milled and a precise amount of water is added to create a cooked agave mixture. This mixture is then placed in pot stills where a patented yeast strain is added for fermentation. This liquid is then double distilled and a rigorous selection process removes the “head” and “tail” of the distillation, leaving only the pure “heart” of the tequila.

Don Julio Blanco is bottled immediately following distillation, while the other varieties are aged in charred white oak, bourbon-barrels from between eight months and three years, depending on the variety.

Starting with the careful cultivation and harvesting of the signature blue agave, Master Distiller Enrique de Colsa oversees the entire handcrafted process – uniform cutting, slow cooking, careful milling, fermentation using a unique agave yeast strain, small batch double-distillation, and artful blending – to create a consistent and distinctive rich taste.

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