Don Julio añejo tequila is a fruit-forward interpretation of the classic añejo style of tequila. Sweet and floral flavors of pear, spice, white pepper, wood and cigar lead to a long and slightly chewy finish.
Classification: añejo tequila
Distillery: Tequila Tres Magueyes S.A. de C.V.
Cask: American oak, ex-bourbon
Still Type: stainless steel pot still (double-distilled)
Aged: 18 months
Awards: Bronze Medal, San Francisco Spirits Competition 2020
- A modern-classic example of an añejo tequila
- Easy to drink; a great introduction into the category
- If you’re used to shooting tequila or throwing it in a Frozen Margarita, the aged stuff may take some getting used to.
- Hard-core añejo fans might find the overall experience a bit wanting for depth and complexity.
Color: Straw gold with hints of amber
Nose: Fruit-driven highland agave notes dominate on the first pass, with a noticeable agave “freshness.” Oak, barnwood and a hint of caramel follow alongside bright peppercorn, apricot and a citrus-floral note.
Palate: The first sip opens a little sweet and floral, with notes of pear. As it leaves the front of your mouth, the tannic spices tingle your lips and the medium-bodied spirit sits on your midpalate, slightly chewy. As it moves to the back of the mouth, you find the wood and cigar notes, white pepper spice, a hint of rose and cinnamon.
Finish: The finish is long with oak and spice.
Whereas other expressions of Don Julio (particularly the blanco and 1942) may feel as if they’re priced too high compared to the competition, the añejo feels about right, falling in the $50 to $60 range. That places it in roughly the same crowd as Casamigos and El Tesoro and a little lower than Patrón, all of which might be considered classmates in taste and complexity.
Hand-harvested, 6- to 10-year-old blue Weber agave from the Los Altos (highlands) region of Jalisco is shredded and cooked before being thrown into large steel fermentation tanks with a proprietary yeast, then double-distilled in stainless steel pot stills. The spirit then ages in American white oak ex-bourbon barrels for about 18 months before it is brought down to proof and bottled. Unlike scotch or even most bourbons, tequila needs very little time in barrel to achieve an aged character, thanks to the warm, dry weather of the region.
The result is a soft easy-drinking aged tequila perfect for sipping or blending into tequila riffs on classic whiskey cocktails, such as an Old Fashioned, or paired with aperitivi or digestivi such as Chartreuse or Campari. Fans of high-rye bourbons will appreciate the mellow spicy bite, while scotch drinkers may appreciate the combination of sweet and spicy notes. In comparison with the brand’s own 1942 añejo, it’s lighter in flavor yet a bit more wood-driven than the 1942’s sweeter tropical fruit notes. In comparison with other well-made añejos, Don Julio añejo falls neatly in the middle of the pack: It’s neither as woody and bland as some nor as complex and nuanced as others. It’s an ideal starter bottle for the category, and there’s a reason it still sells so well.
There really was a Don Julio Gonzales. In 1942, when he was 15 years old, Don Julio Gonzalez needed to help make a living for his family. He started his journey in tequila as a farmhand making about a peso a day. By the time he and his family were making their own Tres Magueyes brand, it became clear that there was a demand for their “family reserves,” which became Don Julio.
The bottom line: Don Julio añejo tequila is a dependable contribution to the world of well-made aged tequilas.