By Rick Riozza
Pretty much everyone in the Tequila world knows the brand Don Julio. Their story began in 1942, when a young Don Julio González saw a unique opportunity in the production of Tequila. He didn’t have much money but what he did have was passion, and after sharing his vision with a powerful local businessman he was granted a loan to create his first tequila distillery.
Don Julio González revolutionized the world of Tequila by choosing quality over quantity, which included painstakingly planting each agave further apart to allow proper room to grow and fully mature before harvesting. He would then select only the most succulent portions of the piña and steam them under strict processes. It was this unrelenting passion for excellence that inspired his creation of the world’s first luxury tequila.
The years passed and the brand and company flourished. Don Julio became the bar for ultra-premium Tequila. Only a handful of Tequila brands could compete with the quality of Don Julio.
Of course, as big corporate beverage companies go—so goes the artisan brands. The beverage behemoth, Diageo, bought the rights to the Don Julio portfolio. (Although in 2015, with the brand selling over 600 thousand cases, it’s tough to claim “artisanal”; but great stuff can always claim “artisanal-style”)
Enter now: Eduardo “Lalo” González, where the family legacy continues with Don Julio’s grandson. González always knew he wanted to carry on his family’s fame of producing premium quality tequila, and he was surprised at how well-known the Don Julio name actually was outside of Mexico.
González grew up in Jalisco, seeing the passion and drive his father had for the Don Julio brand, and it only pushed him to do the same. He’s come a long way since his teenage years when he was working at the family’s distillery. “I’ve been experiencing not only the world of tequila, but premium tequila, literally since I was born,” he says. “So for me it was natural.”
“Lalo” González is now the maestro tequilero and founder of the new Mexican spirits brand LALO Tequila. And one of the most important facts about this LALO brand is that the blanco Tequila is free of additives, made with 100 percent agave, and has never aged in a barrel.
Recently, Lalo Gonzales came to Palm Springs and a wonderful Tequila tasting dinner was scheduled at the chic and trendy Saguaro Hotel in their El Jefe Mexican Cantina and Tequila Bar.
We jumped at the opportunity to meet, greet, and enjoy the company of the maestro along with the culinary talents of the cocineros and staff. Indeed the venue was perfect—what better place to showcase world class Tequila and its tequilero in a cool and intimate surrounding.
This column has covered many a wonderful chef/winemaker dinners and outstanding events in the past decade; and this LALO dinner & tasting, was a joy to attend.
And how about a shout-out to our friend, Palm Springs’ publicist, Joe Enos and his eponymous media company for keeping this column au courant as to the valley’s happenings and unique events to attend & see—and to be seen at!
The evening began with Lalo introducing himself, discussing his family story, and describing the LALO production. Of course, we enjoyed not only pure shots of his Blanco, but in between courses of Mexican fare, the bartenders served up a variety of LALO Tequila cocktails to show the versatility of the Blanco liquor.
While I was listening to Lalo González describe the entire production of his Blanco, he sounded like a veteran winemaker raising points as to land/”terroir”, climate, water, and all the patience it takes to produce a world-class beverage.
As we enjoyed the pure shots, we found the nose to be light, with a pleasant agave scent, followed by notes of citrus, black pepper and a grassy and earthy note.
On the palate, Lalo is rich in natural agave sweetness, with hints of citrus and vanilla, along with cinnamon and black pepper. It has a creamy feel to it and very little heat, making it a very nice sipper.
Lalo spoke, “The tequila is made with just three ingredients — agave, yeast and deep well water. Once the fully mature agave plant is picked from the Jalisco Highlands, it’s cooked in a stone oven called hornos de mamposteria. The agave is steamed for 20 to 32 hours and rested for up to 18 hours. The agave is only twice-distilled to maintain its integrity, and it uses a proprietary yeast found in Champagne during the fermentation process.”
What sets LALO Tequila apart from other Tequila makers and companies, is that they aren’t interested in taking over the entire tequila market, or coming out with dozens of new products every year. They want to stick to the facts and stick to what they’re good at — producing a clean and pure blanco tequila, using agave from the Jaliscan Highlands of Mexico.
As we alerted earlier, again. his LALO Tequila is additive free. Although Tequila legislation allows for a minimal amount of natural oak extracts—caramel, oak, sugar, or glycerin, Lalo’s brand is 100% pure blue agave Tequila.
For González, the spirit itself isn’t the only thing that’s important to him. The tequila brand prides itself in ensuring they oversee the fair trade of their farmers, as well as the workers in the distilleries.
He’s proud of the story, history and lineage that comes behind the making of LALO Tequila, all he desires is to continue honoring his father’s and grandfather’s legacies.
You can find LALO Tequila for about $46.99 at many local liquor stores. Distribution is moving along, and we hope to see it available soon at our supermarkets. Salud!