Grace Gonzalez represents the fourth generation as a Master Distiller and ambassador of El Mayor. Over the years, she has worked at every level of the business and developed the skills and lifelong passion that go into creating an award-winning tequila, El Mayor. As a Distiller and Brand Ambassador, Grace delves deep into the art of growing agave and distilling tequila and also travels the world introducing people to her family, legacy, and of course, the wonderful El Mayor Tequila.
El Mayor is made from only the highest quality weber blue agave plants that thrive in the rocky valley area of Jalisco. At about 7,500 feet above sea level, its mineral-rich sandy soil produces the juiciest plants, providing the ideal base for great tequila.
We spoke to Grace to find out all about El Mayor’s tradition of tequila craft.
How did it all start?
El Mayor means the eldest. When my father had the opportunity to create his first 100% agave Tequila, he decided to honor his grandfather (who taught him the art of making tequila); therefore, he named it El Mayor, The Eldest, in honor of his mentor.
What makes El Mayor different?
When my father was developing El Mayor, he wanted to create a line that was elegant, fresh, earthy, and smooth so people could sip on, from blanco to reposado, añejo, and extra añejo without leaving behind the true flavor of agave.
Tell us about the unique production process and how this reflects in the amazing taste.
At Destiladora Gonzalez Lux (DGL), quality control is key, starting with the most important ingredient, our agave. We make sure that we always receive the best quality weber blue agave.
At the distillery, we combine tradition and technology. Tradition: we make tequila the traditional way in 5 steps. Cooking the agave, a milling system (to obtain the juice), fermentation (we have been using the same yeast strain for generations that we reproduce in the lab), distillation, and maturation. Technology: We have controlled fermentation to be consistent and efficient in our process. In distillation, tradition meets technology meaning that we still have master distillers making the cuts between first and second distillation but also utilizing technology as a support.
What is the best way to taste great tequila?
I recommend trying it neat to truly appreciate the color, aroma, and flavor of each expression (red wine glasses are perfect because the aromas can open up better, and we can appreciate it without the kick of alcohol). Then once you choose your favorite expression, either sip on it or make a Margarita, Old Fashioned, Manhattan… I mean, the sky is the limit. Experiment and find your favorite way of drinking it.
What do you do at home to train your nose, palate, and senses to be the best they can be?
When I’m about to work with a new profile I stay away from greasy and spicy food as both can numb the tastebuds. Before doing a professional tasting, I don’t wear perfume or moisturizer cream with aroma, so my nose is sharper. Resting is key, so getting a good night’s sleep is important. I prepare myself at least three weeks prior to the tasting, and I taste at different times during the day.
What does El Mayor actually taste like?
It’s a smooth tequila with character. In each expression, you will be able to find the fresh, earthy, and herbal notes that are distinctive of the blue weber agave. But as we move from blanco to reposado, añejo, and, extra añejo you will be able to experience the evolution of the tequila with the interaction of used bourbon barrels. What you will find is a fresh and complex well-balanced tequila in each expression.
What food do you think matches El Mayor?
This depends on the expression. Blanco: Ceviche, sushi, sashimi, oysters, lemon, berries and sorbet (anything fresh and not overpowering). Reposado: Cooked shrimp, chicken and beef. Añejo: Pork, lamb, rabbit, matured cheese, and dessert. Extra Añejo: Dark chocolate with caramel and sea salt, my favorite! I usually drink it after dinner or with a good espresso. But again, I highly suggest experimenting and finding the best pairing for your palate. There are no rules, so have fun.
What is next for El Mayor?
We are constantly working on innovation; this year isn’t an exception. For instance, last year, we came up with El Mayor Extra Añejo Port Cask Limited Edition, so stay tuned for this year’s annual release.
To discover more, visit: elmayor.com
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Imagery courtesy of El Mayor / Luxco.