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Don Julio Blanco Tequila

Review: Don Julio Blanco tequila (83.5/100)
a review by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Posted on August 16, 2011

Don Julio is a 100% Blue Weber Agave Tequila made from agave grown in the highlands of Jalisco, Mexico. As a highland tequila,we can expect the Don Julio to exhibit strong fruity citrus notes and to have a little hot pepper in the finish. The company was established by Don Julio González, who apparently began to examine the prospect of making his own Tequila in 1942. He established his distillery called, La Primavera, and spent nearly forty years refining his Tequila into the spirit which now bears his name.

I first encountered Don Julio Blanco at the May 5 (Cinco de Mayo) Tequila Tasting at Aligra Wine and Spirits in Edmonton. I enjoyed the crispness of the spirit at the tasting, and I decided I should review this tequila here on my website. A good friend of mine poured off a 200 ml sample for me, and this is the result of my labour.

In the Bottle 4.5/5

To the left is a photo of Don Julio Blanco. I really like the distinctive bottle with its light blue colour.  I like the labeling which is attractive, and I like that the bottle is sealed with a very nice high density cork which gives me that nice satisfying ‘pop’ when I open it.

In the Glass 8/10

When I tilt my glass and gave it a swirl, I saw only a light oily sheen which disappears over time rather than releases legs. Soft peppery notes come forward out of the glass, followed by lemon and lime citrus juices. Muted fruity agave and a hint of  vanilla waft into the air as well providing just a little more softness. I  allowed the glass to decant and the aroma did not change significantly. I was hoping the agave notes would grow in the glass, but the scent remained quite mellow.

In the Mouth 50/60

The tequila has a smooth presence in the mouth with a ‘soft’ agave flavour and warm citrus. I use the term ‘soft’ agave to try to give an indication that the typically earthy and punky flavour of agave is softened in this tequila to the point where I cannot really call it punky or earthy anymore. It resembles a taste which sits somewhere between the flavours of cucumber and squash, but this has a more herbaceous quality than either. Citrus flavours follow reminiscent of lemon-lime and perhaps a touch of passion fruit. As you sip on the Don Julio, the citrus begins to turn peppery in the mouth with flavours of citrus zest and scattered white pepper. This is a nice, but I find myself wanting a little more depth to the agave experience.

I mixed a nice Traditional Margarita (see recipe below), and I was very pleased at how the Lime, Triple Sec, and Tequila meshed together in the cocktail. I also mixed my cocktail creation, Metro Mexico, and the suitability of Don Julio for cocktails was confirmed.

In the Throat 12/15

Warm agave and citrus give way to hotter citrus zest and white pepper in a finish which is crisp and smooth. My palate feels cleansed; but again, I was hoping for more depth and perhaps a little more length to be imparted to the agave flavours.

The Afterburn 8.5/10

At the Tequila tasting where I was introduced to Don Julio Blanco, it was my favourite of the Blanco Tequilas that I tried that day. However, when I sampled the Tequila at home in isolation from the other spirits, it seemed thinner and lacked the depth that I remembered at the tasting. I realize now that at the tasting event the previously sampled Tequila (which in this case was Cabo Wabo Blanco) had left enough rich agave flavours on my palate that it added much-needed depth to the taste Don Julio. In isolation, that depth just isn’t there. Don Julio is a nice Tequila, but I suspect the experienced agave spirit aficionado will prefer a richer, fuller, taste profile with more evolution in the agave flavour.

You may read some of my other Tequila Reviews (click the link) if you wish to have some comparative reviews.

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Suggested Recipe

You will notice that this recipe includes two optional elements, a teaspoon of simple syrup, and a splash of soda. I often add both elements especially if I have friends over who do not consume tequila regularly. The touch of sweetness and the touch of soda often makes the taste Margarita cocktail more suitable to a larger variety of palates.

The Margarita Cocktail (A Traditional Recipe)

1 1/2 oz Blanco Tequila
3/4 oz Triple Sec
3/4 oz fresh lime juice
1 tsp simple syrup (optional)
ice
Splash of soda (optional)
lime slice for garnish

Chill a cocktail glass and rim the outside with coarse salt
Place the tequila, lime, Triple Sec, and simple into a metal shaker
Shake until the outside of the shaker frosts
Strain into the chilled cocktail glass
Add a splash of soda if desired
Garnish with Lime
Enjoy!

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You may (loosely) interpret the scores as follows.

0-25     A spirit with a rating this low would actually kill you.
26-49   Depending upon your fortitude you might actually survive this.
50 -59  You are safe to drink this…but you shouldn’t.
60-69   Substandard swill which you may offer to people you do not want to see again.
70-74    Now we have a fair mixing Tequila.  Accept this but make sure it is mixed into a cocktail.
75-79    You may begin to serve this to friends, (we are probably still cocktail in territory).
80-84    We begin to enjoy this spirit neat or on the rocks. (I will still primarily mix cocktails)
85-89    Excellent for sipping or for mixing delicious cocktails!
90-94    Definitely a primary sipping spirit, in fact you may want to hoard this for yourself.
95-97.5 The Cream of the Crop
98+       I haven’t met this bottle yet…but I want to.

Very loosely we may put my scores into terms that you may be familiar with on a Gold, Silver, and  Bronze medal  scale as follows:

70 – 79.5    Bronze Medal (Recommended only as a mixer)
80 – 89.5     Silver Medal (Recommended for sipping and or a high quality mixer)
90 – 95         Gold Medal (Highly recommended for sipping and for sublime cocktails.)
95.5+            Platinum Award (Highest Recommendation)

 
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