The Humbling Origins Of Don Julio Tequila

Don Julio González was making mezcal and selling tequila at the age of just 15 years old. His father had died, and he was thrust into the role of breadwinner, earning nine pesos a week to support his family of eight. Two years later, he used money loaned to him to buy a distillery, yet the alcohol for which he became known didn't take flight until over four decades later. When González began batching booze, tequila wasn't considered a premium product. The alcohol was poured into tall, somewhat unsightly containers that would be kept beneath dining tables. 

González, however, took a different approach to his alcohol, measuring distancing between plants and carefully cultivating agave to full maturation before harvesting. Instead of a quick fire, these plants were slow-roasted and steamed for days at a time. From the outset, González was focused on the art of his craft, erasing any question of his capability with a tenacious devotion to excellence. 

Each morning, González would take to prune his plants and take stock of his land in the Jaliscan Highlands. The high-altitude area is known for its fluctuating temperatures and demands on crops, yet González persisted. With a coa in hand, a special tool to harvest agave plants, he would tend to the leaves of the plants to cultivate the perfect flavors before picking plants individually to harvest. His hard work paid off.

Commitment to a premium product

For his 60th birthday, González's sons threw him a party. At the time, González's tequila had been reserved for friends and family, and there were plenty of requests for the bottles to be present at his celebration. González conceded, yet demanded that his booze be presented in short, square bottles that could be placed on the table while still allowing for guests to have unobstructed views of the room. The idea was a hit and got the González family's wheels turning. Two years later, Don Julio Tequila was announced and brought to a more general audience.

Since González first began his operations, several generations have continued to work with the tequila brand, paying homage to the original creator. To this day, agave plants are individually catered to and fields are watched over by those equally dedicated to exceptional harvests that González, who died in 2012 at the age of 87, would be proud of.