By Michael McCarthy By Michael McCarthy | October 14, 2021 | Food & Drink
Tequila Don Julio Ultima Reserva employs a special agave harvest to create an unforgettable limited release.
Fifteen years ago, Don Julio González, along with his family, planted his final field of agave for harvest. González, founder of Tequila Don Julio, began his tequila journey in 1942 and continued to revolutionize the industry with an unparalleled devotion to his craft. “From whispering to his agave plants to planting them uncharacteristically farther apart in the highlands of Jalisco to aging the liquid to perfection, González’s principles elevated the standards of tequila-making,” says Jorge Raptis, a national tequila educator for the brand. “As a result, Tequila Don Julio has since become one of Mexico’s most loved spirits, and, trust me, in the land of tequila, they know what they’re talking about.” As a tribute to González’s devotion and craftsmanship, this final agave harvest from 2006 (González passed away in 2012) was carefully distilled, barreled and set aside for a special use: the creation of Tequila Don Julio Ultima Reserva. Raptis sat down with us to discuss the new release.
This is a special bottle—how did it all come together? To preserve this tequila and the exquisite agave piñas behind it, the team of experts at Tequila Don Julio implemented a Solera aging method that combines and matures tequilas of different characteristics, allowing this final agave harvest to remain at the heart of Tequila Don Julio Ultima Reserva. It’s a rare, luxury extraañejo tequila, aged 36 months. [It] rested in oak—previously used to age bourbon—and was finished in seasoned Madeira wine casks. So, while the story behind this liquid is special because it preserves history, the process is equally special—[it was] a very conscious decision in order to ensure that we could enjoy the results of this final agave harvest.
What did you find most surprising about this tequila? Tequila Don Julio Ultima Reserva is such a special liquid. Before even tasting it, simply understanding the history that’s preserved in this beautiful bottle makes holding it in your hand an honor. This is the first variant from Tequila Don Julio that employs the Solera aging process in this way, and when you taste it, it’s a wonderfully complex liquid, but it’s also perfectly balanced. You truly discover something new with each sip. The deep yet balanced flavors that this rare spirit acquires through the aging process provide an unforgettable drinking experience.
What can connoisseurs expect when it comes to Ultima Reserva’s taste? Hints of apricot and orange, then finishes with smooth honeyed agave. [As I mentioned], during the Solera aging method, the liquid blends and rests for two to four months in seasoned Madeira wine casks to impart notes of apricot and orange, resulting in a unique journey from start to finish.
What about Ultima Reserva’s nose? It’s a mature aroma with notes of toasted oak and caramel, a signature of our aged variants, but in a new, deliciously smooth and exceptionally balanced way.
What else should we know about this release? It’s available in extremely limited quantities. The first batch will be available in select markets while supplies last; these bottles will be labeled Batch 001. Only 4,000 cases of Tequila Don Julio Ultima Reserva will be released this year, with an extremely limited release in the years to come until it reaches the end of this final agave harvest.
Why do you think quality tequila is having a moment right now? As the tequila category continues to grow, consumers are educating themselves and recognizing tequila as one of the most complex and unique spirits in the world. They’re increasingly more interested in the process and history behind their drinks and are gravitating toward higher-end tequila as the availability of options continues to grow.
Photography by: PHOTO COURTESY OF TEQUILA DON JULIO