Don Julio blanco tequila is a brisk highland tequila with notes of tropical fruits, white pepper and menthol. The tequila is light- to medium-bodied, menthol-tinged and fruit-driven.
Classification: blanco tequila
Distillery: Tequila Tres Magueyes S.A. de C.V.
Still Type: stainless steel pot still (double-distilled)
- Bright, clean agave and tropical fruit notes with a lingering menthol-pineapple finish
- Equally appropriate for shooting, sipping or mixing into cocktails
- Comparable tequilas can be found for $10 to $20 less.
- The alcohol and menthol hits might be strong for some drinkers.
Color: Crystal-clear, with a medium viscosity
Nose: Clean agave notes, with hints of tropical fruit (papaya, guava and pineapple) and apricot. There’s a slightly medicinal top note, probably related to the fresh agave.
Palate: It enters round and sweet with a slight burn, typical of a highland tequila (heavy on the fruit notes). On the midpalate, grassy vegetal notes expand with a light-to-medium body. Toward the back of the mouth, you’ll find white pepper, stone fruit and menthol.
Finish: With a medium, brisk finish producing a menthol, white pepper and tropical fruit sensation, it feels a bit “flat” but only slightly.
Since many people drinking blanco tequila enjoy it as shots, we can start there. Unlike some much cheaper tequilas, there’s no real brashness to Don Julio, which makes it ideal for shooting. It enters sweet and leaves spicy but is easy on the throat. It also pairs nicely with lime juice and salt. Taking it up a notch, it’s also an excellent sipper, either neat or over ice with a little soda water. Likewise, it stands up clean and bright in Margaritas, Palomas and other traditional tequila cocktails.
Don Julio Gonzales began making tequila in 1942. He and his family soon produced a popular label in Mexico called Tres Magueyes before releasing the “good stuff” (his family’s reserve) under the Don Julio label. In 1994, Diageo took over full control of Don Julio, but the company insists that to this day one of the largest labels in Mexico is still produced with an emphasis on quality and careful production.
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 blanco, of course, doesn’t need any aging before it’s brought down to proof and dispensed into the iconic bottles (which used to be hand-blown but no longer are).
Where Don Julio might fall short is in the price category. When it launched, there were few premium competitors, and all were expensive. But these days, with brands including Espolòn, Cazadores and Olmeca Altos offering up high-quality tequila for half the price, it may be a bit tough to justify Don Julio blanco if all you’re doing is shooting it or throwing it into a frozen Margarita machine. On the flip side, if your experience with premium tequilas is limited to Patrón (and there’s nothing wrong with that), consider sipping some D.J. blanco for a distinctively different fruit-forward tasting experience.
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.
The bottom line: While some people may balk at the price (especially in the incredibly expanded world of tequila labels we live in today), Don Julio tequila blanco is well-made, easy to drink and more complex than one might first initially expect, and it’s lovely in cocktails.