THE HISTORY AND MASTERY AT TEQUILA DISTILLERS EL TEQUILEÑO CONTINUE TO DEFINE PREMIUM QUALITY AND GREAT TASTE.
“For us, it’s not just about the liquid in the bottle.” Steffin Oghene, the vice president of business development at El Tequileño, is talking about the tequila distillery’s commitment to the whole tequila-drinking experience. “We’ve got a real story here and we take great pride in both the heritage and the quality of the product, created by a family that has been making tequila the same way for more than 60 years.”
Located about an hour outside of Guadalajara in the tiny town of Tequila, which lives and breathes its name, El Tequileño was founded in 1959 by Don Jorge Salles Cuervo, who descended from the most renowned of Tequila families. His son Juan Antonio Salles is one of only five people to have ever been granted the award of Grand Tequilero by the National Chamber of the Tequila Industry, the oldest industry group in Mexico. Grandson Jorges Anthony Salles is now master distiller, encapsulating three generations of experience into every drop of the company’s tequilas.
In 2017, Paradise Spirits purchased the distillery, making plans to push the boundaries of its reach into the U.S. and beyond, while still maintaining the same commitment to quality. “The history and tradition are part of the story, but we’re also a vibrant, fun brand,” Oghene says. “The Salles family has always injected energy into the company — and there’s a bottle in every household, at every family event, in almost the whole of Jalisco.”
The popularity of El Tequileño has always been crystal clear, so much so that a hospitality centre at the distillery was converted into a boutique hotel in early 2020. “It’s in a really beautiful little corner of Tequila, an oasis,” Oghene says. “You walk in the door and there are 150-year-old mango trees and a big rubber tree and a beautiful pool. It’s so different from other hotels in the area. People start relaxing immediately because it really has the essence of Mexico. There’s nothing else like it.” The hotel recently received honours at the World Travel Awards, winning awards for Best Cultural Hotel in Central America and Best Boutique hotel in Mexico.
“YOU CAN MIX IT, SIP IT, SHOOT IT, WHATEVER YOU WANT.”
Seven tequilas at El Tequileño are made using volcanic spring water and ripe agave from the Highlands of Jalisco:
Blanco tequila can be un-aged or it can rest in wood barrels for up to 59 days. Reposado tequila is in barrels for a minimum of 60 days. There’s no time limit and no regulation on the size of the barrels. Añejo is aged from one to three years, with Extra Añejo aged three years and more. With both, the spirit must be aged in barrels of 60 litres or less.
“Our Reposado Rare is truly a unique product because it is aged for six years in a 23,000-litre barrel, so there is a smaller liquid-to-wood ratio,” Oghene says, adding that drinkers really zero in on the agave flavour, enjoying aromas of green apple and vanilla.
The El Tequileño Resposado Gran Reserva, which the family has been making it for many years, is equally distinguished. It is aged for eight months then blended with a one-and-a-half-year-old Añejo, which itself is aged in American oak bourbon barrels. This results in a very complex tequila with layers of caramelized banana, oak, vanilla and caramel with lots of agave flavour. This award-winning expression recently achieved 100 points at the Proof Awards and was awarded a gold medal in 2021 by The Spirits Business Masters of Tequila and Mezcal Masters.
“We really do have something for everyone,” Oghene says, “anybody who enjoys drinking good tequila and having a good time.” The El Tequileño Resposado Gran Reserva ($89.95) is available in British Columbia, Alberta and Ontario.