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Don Julio Añejo Tequila

Review: Don Julio Añejo Tequila (91.5/100)
a review by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Published on December 10, 2012

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.

The Don Julio Añejo is produced in small batches, aged in American white-oak barrels for eighteen months. The spirit is currently owned by the Diageo Conglomerate, and I was provided with a 375 ml sample for this review by their Northern Alberta Marketing Agent.

In the Bottle 4.5/5

To the left is a photo of the 375 ml bottle of Don Julio Añejo (bottled at 40 % Alcohol by volume) which I was provided. I really like the distinctive squat bottle with its brown and oak colour scheme which I believe was chosen to remind us that this Añejo Tequila is an aged spirit which has spent over one year in oak barrels. The labeling is attractive, and each bottle is serial numbered which I suppose is meant to reinforce in our minds that the product is made in small batches.

In The Glass 9/10

The Don Julio Añejo is a very light amber colour which is only a smidgen darker than the Don Julio Reposado. As I brought my glass up to my nose, I discovered that the aroma rising into the breezes was very pleasant. The herbaceous agave is accented by light touches of caramel. There is a mild sweet fruitiness which reminds me of canned apricots and marmalade, some soft peppery notes, and tinges of lime citrus zest. I sense a hint of vanilla and some scattered tea leaves. This promises to be a very nice spirit.

In the Mouth 55/60

The Añejo Tequila is soft and smooth. The agave flavour is mellow accented by mild touches of white pepper, and the sweetness of light caramel. I taste a light oak presence and an underlying honey-like sweetness which is very appealing. There are some fruit flavours, in particular lime zest and apricot jam, and these flavours are melded very well into the agave, the light oak, and the caramel. Some scattered tea leaves, some hints of coffee, and perhaps a touch of cocoa round out the taste experience. After a few sips, the mouth is heated by the agave pepper, but the sensation is never uncomfortable.

This is not a tequila that I would mix in fruity cocktails like the Margarita. It is much more suited to mixing fifty-fifty with Grand Marnier, or to be enjoyed neat in a brandy glass.

In the Throat 13.5/15

The tequila exits with a smooth honey like sweetness which is firmly accented by herbaceous agave . There is some spicy black pepper in the finish, but the tonsils are warmed not battered. Impressions of caramel and coffee linger. The Don Julio Añejo Tequila is easy to sip.

The Afterburn 9.5/10

Although my scores were high throughout the review, my feeling is that this Añejo Tequila is perhaps more than the sum of its parts. Hence, I have bumped my ‘afterburn’ score up to 9.5 to recognize this. This is a true sipping spirit which brings a suave taste experience to the Añejo Tequila category that is bound to please most Tequila enthusiasts.

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


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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