Enrique de Colsa, master distiller at Don Julio, faces an uphill battle in Canada. We still primarily drink the worst of the tequilas—what Americans call mixtos, which are usually only fifty-one per cent agave, the remainder from whatever sugars are cheapest for the distiller. The resulting spirit is harsh and synonymous with bad hangovers and worse decisions.
Nothing could be further from premium one hundred per cent agave tequila, a drink so smooth you can sip it like good Scotch. That’s precisely what Enrique de Colsa and I did, as we discussed everything from his favourite tequila to filling Don Julio’s shoes. As de Colsa said of his tequila, “It’s real. It’s not for salt and lime, it’s for sharing with friends.”
Don Julio González established the idea of premium tequila when he first released one hundred per cent agave tequila in 1951. De Colsa joined the company in the 1980s, initially designing the hand-blown glass bottle and wood stopper that is iconic to the brand, albeit swiftly imitated by plenty of other distillers on the block. He soon started learning under the godfather of premium tequila
The technical aspects of distilling—roasting agave, distilling the juice, aging the spirit in oak barrels—are formidable, but pale next to de Colsa’s main job: tasting and evaluating the flavour profiles of each tequila and tuning everything to maintain the consistency of quality Don Julio has built over the years. “Don Julio made a big impact,” de Colsa says, “but the tradition inspires and encourages me.”
As we polish off the last of the Don Julio range, I ask which is his favourite.
“Which is the best? Believe me, the blanco is as good as the REAL.”
Dave Robson is the editor of DailyXY. He spends his time reading books, drinking Scotch, and smoking cigars.
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