Don Julio takes its name from its founder Don Julio González-Frausto Estrada, a tequila distiller who began producing tequila in 1942 at the age of 17.
For a good forty years, Estrada, who had entered his uncle’s distillery, La Primavera, took pains to perfect their sole product, and got a positive reputation throughout Mexico. But things really took off for the company in 1985, when on his 60th birthday, his children presented him with a new, premium tequila called Don Julio. Guests at the celebration saw the drink and asked if the freshly produced spirit was for sale. At first the family was hesitant to make it for public consumption, but eventually relented in 1987 – and thus Don Julio as a brand was born.
Don Julio is marketed as a premium tequila, and has seen portfolio expansions. The latest was in 2014, when [British multinational] Diageo took full control of Don Julio, however leaving the agricultural and manufacturing aspects of the brand solely to the Estrada family.
Don Julio Tequila Price List
|Don Julio Blanco Tequila||375ml||$19.99 – $27.99||80|
|750ml||$41.99 – $45.99||80|
|1.75L||$79.99 – $89.99||80|
|Don Julio Reposado Tequila||750ml||$45.99 – $46.99||80|
|Don Julio Anejo Tequila||750ml||$48.99 – $51.99||80|
|Don Julio 70 Anejo Claro Tequila||750ml||$54.99 – $59.99||80|
|Don Julio 1942 Tequila||750ml||$104.99 – $119.99||80|
|Don Julio Real Tequila||750ml||$399.99 – $419.99||80|
|Don Julio Reposado Double Cask||750ml||$58.99 – $59.99||80|
There are lots of facets to the success of Don Julio, and to list all of them would make this price guide tedious and boring. However, one cannot exclude the company’s añejo and reposado aging processes when listing what makes Don Julio great. For example, the reposados spend eight months in old American oak barrels primarily used for Kentucky bourbon aging. Select reposado sare aged for one more month in old Scotch whisky casks for the Don Julio Reposado Double Cask variant.
As for the añejos, their aging goes for a full 18 months in the company’s own reposado barrels. The result is more agave and less oak in the flavor, which is great for the tequila purist.
Don Julio Blanco Tequila
- $19.99-$27.99, 375 ml, 40%
- Alternate Money Check$41.99-$45.99, 750 ml, 40%
- Alternate Money Check$79.99-$89.99, 1,500 ml, 40%
Light and crisp is the consistent description of this blanco’s taste, with a citrus hint greeting you at tongue’s tip. Then the sweet agave takes over, getting creamy as the liquid goes down the gullet. There’s a tiny burn at the end, but it’s more respectable than rude – and you don’t forget the entire run of the drink through your mouth. It’s best served as a foundation for a mixed drink, such as a margarita or a 21st Century.
Don Julio Reposado Tequila
- $45.99-$46.99, 750 ml, 38%
Agave and vanilla are very much present at the start of the taste, followed by dints of wood, smoke and cinnamon. Everything goes smooth and silky in the lips-to-mouth-to-throat transition, with a very gentle agave/peppery reminder at the end.
Most prefer that this tequila should be consumed neat at room temperature. However, there’s a steady number of drinkers that claim that the reposado should be served neat, but chilled or slightly chilled.
Don Julio Reposado Double Cask
- $58.99-$59.99, 750 ml, 40%
Launched in the summer of 2018, Don Julio’s top end reposado is an answer to the question, “What if we put some scotch into our tequila?”
Surprisingly, there’s no traces of Scotch whisky in this reposado’s taste. Peppery agave is the dominant flavor here, with toffee, vanilla cream, citrus and cinnamon showing up occasionally. The finish is where the peaty trademark of scotch can be observed, with tiny bits of spice also saying “hi.”
Don Julio claims that the drink can be enjoyed neat, or on the rocks with an orange wheel.
Don Julio Añejo
- $48.99-$51.99, 750 ml, 38%
Even if it’s an “entry level” añejo, one will be hard-pressed to find a non-Don Julio tequila añejo that could top this.
The cooked agave, wild honey, lime, orange, grapefruit and butterscotch give a complex but consistently rich AND full-bodied flavor. The finish is memorable too, with a little tingle and wild honey present, and everything goes down in a silky smooth manner. Whether enjoyed neat at room temperature, or neat but frozen, on the rocks, or as a building block for a Tequila Manhattan, this añejo is the standard for tequilas.
Don Julio 70 Añejo Claro Tequila
- $54.99-$59.99, 750 ml, 40%
An original concoction of [Don Julio master distiller] Enrique de Colsa, this añejo takes its name from its near-transparent liquid final state.
This is achieved by aging the tequila for the same 18 months as the base añejo, but incorporating a charcoal filtration process to remove any sort of color. It can actually fool drinkers (if they haven’t seen the bottle prior to consumption) into believing they’re drinking a blanco.
However, those curious to take multiple sips claim that the spirit is confused, with the añejo and blanco aspects performing some luchador (Mexican pro wrestling) moves against each other. Vanilla comes up at the beginning of the palate, with a rough tequila “chomp” that’s a blanco trademark. Mid-taste, charred oak and toasted nuts pop up. Finish-wise, there’s a nippy presence (plus licorice), and there’s a consistent lack of agave spice or pepper.
Overall, it’s great, but critics claim that it’s best for margaritas or taken in shot glasses.
Don Julio 1942 Tequila
- $104.99-$119.99, 750 ml, 38%
Named after the very year the company founder made his first tequila, this drink is aged for 2 ½ years in used American oak barrels.
The aging – plus a third distillation attempt – helps a creamy and smooth palate that features white pepper, vanilla, mint, [an occasional] warm oak and cinnamon. It’s an incredibly complex and robust trip through mouth and tongue.
The smooth flow of flavor from lips to tongue to gullet is another trademark of this añejo. Only the earlier-mentioned burn stops the flow of taste, and practically the most diehard of tequila enthusiasts will detect said bite. Yet, as mentioned above, it’s a mere hiccup in an amber shower of well-deserved praises for the drink. It’s that great.
Don Julio Real Tequila
- $399.99-$419.99, 750 ml, 40%
One will point out this guide mentioned that the Don Julio Añejo is the standard for tequilas. We point out that the Don Julio Añejo is an añejo (18 months of aging), while Don Julio Real Tequilais an extra añejo (three to five years of aging).
When it comes to the palate, complex is the word that best describes this Don Julio. Vanilla and agave are the dominant flavors, supported by some caramel, chocolate and almonds. As the liquid goes down the throat, the vanilla and peppery agave gently and creamily remind you of this extra añejo, along with its American oak aging. Frankly, it would be sacrilege to drink this other than neat at room temperature.
Don Julio Añejo vs the competition
- 1800 Añejo ($ 37.99-$74.26, 750 ml, 38%)
- Tequila AviónAñejo ($44.99-$51.99, 750 ml, 40%)
- Casamigos Añejo ($50.99-$69.99, 750 ml, 40%)
- checkDon Julio Añejo ($48.99-$51.99, 750 ml, 38%)
Sweet and peppery (due to the agave) characterize the initial palate of the 1800 and mid-palate transition. The 1800 Añejo shows traces of cinnamon, candied pears, butterscotch and toasted oak, plus a finish of cocoa and banana bread. On the other hand, wild honey and butterscotch are on display when the Don Julio/DJ Añejo enters your mouth.
However, what sinks 1800 is an observed strong presence of smokiness in the taste. For some, strong traces of the roasting process may have settled in the final product, likely an oversight (but nevertheless an issue) due to 1800 being part of the mass market tequila assembly line of Jose Cuervo. In contrast, the DJ consistently keeps the smoky taste to a minimum, or even at zero presence.
Don Julio’s añejo may be more expensive than the Avión añejo.
However, the Don Julio/DJ presents a strong case of value-for-money tilting brains, lips, noses, tongues, throats and opinions towards its entry level aged tequila.
One, the DJ añejo consistently displays no alcohol burn, with a nip (some will claim it’s a bite or a wake-up call) in the Avión. Everything is bright, lightly spiced, rich and smooth, and you don’t forget the agave presence in the Don Julio.
Second, the DJ has a consistently minimal tinge of American oak residue (due to the aging duration) when the añejo hits your mouth. On the other hand, the Avión has an up-down presence of oak in the taste, which was a turn-off for some.
Casamigos’ añejo is neck-and-neck against Don Julio’s añejo in terms of pricing.
The Casamigos manages to compete in terms of taste. Custard, [a little bit of] oak, sweet vanilla, citrus, papaya, mango, toffee penny and dark chocolate all strive to have a voice in your tongue and throat when this añejois drank. However, critics claim the lips-to-throat transition isn’t as smooth as the Don Julio’s, due to a reported mild alcohol burn. The said burn is not punchy, but it might hurt sensitive gullets.
The DJ is bright, lightly spiced, rich and smooth, with the agave foundation much evident. The company even incorporated wild honey, butterscotch, lime, orange and grapefruit to join forces with the agave to create a complex yet unforgettable experience for the tequila newbie or the añejo veteran.
Don Julio Añejo Tequila Distrito Federal recipe
The Distrito Federal is named after Mexico City’s largest borough for much of the 20th century’s latter half.
The name implies that you’ve hit the big time. It also helps that if you incorporate Mexico’s top ranked tequila in the drink, you’ve also hit the big time.
Don Julio Añejo Tequila Distrito Federal
- 2 oz. Don Julio Añejo Tequila
- 1 oz. sweet vermouth
- 20 drops orange bitters
- 10 drops Angostura bitters
Mix everything together with ice and then stir for one to 2 minutes, then strain, and add a cherry when serving.