don julio  

Julio Gonzalez-Frausto Estrada was only 17 years old in 1942 when he began distilling tequila, but he immediately showed a knack for it that ultimately created a legacy. Read on and find out how Don Julio Tequila became one of the most sought after brands of tequila on the market today.

Life, for Julio Gonzalez-Frausto Estrada started out typically enough. He was born in 1925 in the small town of Atotonilco, Jalisco, Mexico and worked from a young age at his uncle's distillery.

In 1930 his life took a sudden drastic turn when his father passed away and he became the "man of the house".

Julio took a job as a farmhand, but the pay, reportedly nine pesos per week, wasn't nearly enough to support his family. To supplement his income, he began making and selling tequila in his own area and before long was earning nine pesos per day.

Julio's tequila quickly became well-known for its quality and taste and so, at the urging of his friends and family, he opened his own distillery, which he called La Primavera (The Springtime). Here he began making his first brand of tequila, which he called Tres Magueyes, using highland agave plants grown in Atotonilco, Jalisco.

Julio Gonzalez-Frausto Estrada made a huge impact on the art of making tequila. For example, he decided early on that he didn't want to buy land to grow agave on, but instead he decided to lease it. This gave him the ability to pick and choose which crops to use, ensuring that he always had the best agave with which to produce his tequila.

Take also the humble tequila bottle. Tequila used to be bottled in tall, thin bottles like wine. Julio, though, frustrated that he couldn't see his friends across the table because of the tall bottles ordered that his tequila be put in short, squat bottles. Many tequila brands today, such as Patron, use similar shorter bottles initiated by the visionary Don Julio.

In 1985, on Julio's 60th birthday, his children presented him with a new, premium tequila they called Don Julio. At first, it was meant to be for his birthday party only and the guests there. But so many people from the party asked if the new tequila would be available for sale that they relented and began bottling and selling the Don Julio brand of tequila, which has been called the world's first luxury tequila.

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Don Julio tequila is now available in a Blanco, a Reposado, and an Añejo. Additionally, they also make an exquisite extra Anejo called Don Julio 1942 (which was rated one of the best tequilas in the world by Men's Journal), and an extra Anejo called Don Julio Real.

Each of these tequilas starts the same way - through hand-harvested blue agave that is baked over several days in brick ovens. Then, water is added and the agave pinas are crushed, producing a sweet syrup. Finally, yeast is added and the batch is allowed to ferment into a sort of beer-like mixture before finally being distilled and placed into used bourbon American oak casks to age the tequila or in stainless steel tanks to rest and mellow each batch.

The entire line of Don Julio tequilas has won acclaim throughout the world. In fact, the Don Julio Extra Anejo Real won gold medals at the 2008 and 2011 San Francisco World Spirits Competition.

Don Julio himself passed away in 2012 at the age of 87, but his family continues to make the same, high-quality tequila he always made himself. In fact, be prepared to see more of Don Julio's spirit. In 2013 the company planned a huge expansion, seven years in the making. They planted 1.8 million agave plants. These will mature in 2020, at which time the production of Don Julio Tequila should double! Viva the iconic Don Julio Tequila!

La Posta de Mesilla stocks Don Julio's entire line of fine tequilas, so be sure to try some the next time you stop by!