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Don Pilar Extra Anejo 100% Agave Tequila

Don Pilar Extra Añejo
100% Agave Tequila


By Robert Plotkin

While some brands of tequila are the product of boardrooms, spreadsheets and focus groups, Don Pilar 100% Agave Tequila is the creation of one man's lifelong vision and his family's dedication to tradition and pride of craftsmanship. The patriarch of the family—Don José Pilar Contreras—is devoted to cultivating the finest blue agaves on his five ranches, which collectively span over 1000 acres in the Highlands of Jalisco near the town of San José de Gracia.

Don Pilar Tequilas are handcrafted at Grupo Industrial Tequilero de Los Altos [NOM 1443] in San Ignacio Cerro Gordo by master distillers Gabriel Espindola and Leopoldo Solis Tinoco. When Don Pilar's agaves are deemed to have reached their optimum maturity, they are harvested by hand and brought immediately to the distillery, where they are placed in stainless steel autoclaves and steam baked for more than 24 hours.

Afterwards, the baked agaves are removed from the ovens, shredded and transferred to stainless steel vats. The agaves are fermented using a singular process dubbed the "Mozart method," in which Baroque music is played over loudspeakers during the 10-day fermentation process. It's thought the soothing strains of the classical music have a positive affect on the yeast used in fermentation.

The fermented mash—called the mosto—is then double-distilled in stainless steel pot stills. Each of the Don Pilar Tequilas is bottled at 40% alcohol by volume (80 proof).

Critically acclaimed Don Pilar Extra Añejo is matured for no less than 36 months in new "virgin" American oak barrels, after which it is finished in French Limousin oak barrels for an additional 4 months. The limited edition tequila is a luxurious spirit loaded with character and sophistication. The tequila has a dark copper/amber hue, a velvety textured body and a voluminous bouquet saturated with the aromas of brown sugar, dried apricots, butterscotch, caramel, cinnamon and vanilla bean. Its skillfully balanced palate is richly imbued with spice, vanilla, dark chocolate, toffee and red plums. The spiciness and fruity flavors persist throughout the long, lingering finish. This double-barreled gem is too good to share with the in-laws.

Don Pilar Añejo is matured for 18 months in new "virgin" American oak barrels. During its stay in wood, the tequila obtains a copper/amber hue, a satiny, medium-weight body and a bouquet saturated with the aromas of shredded coconut, toffee, tropical fruit and toasted oak. Its soft, gentle entry quickly envelops the mouth with a warm, semisweet array of flavors—dark chocolate, vanilla, butterscotch, dried fruit and herbaceous agave. The finish is long and pleasantly spicy.

Don Pilar Blanco makes an ideal entrée into the joys of sipping blanco tequilas. Bottled directly from the still, the crystal clear tequila has a silky textured body and a generous citrus and spice nose. It has a remarkably cool entry and a brilliant palate of zesty citrus and dried fruit with delicate spicy, peppery notes. The finish is crisp and decidedly spicy.

Don Pilar reinforces the notion that the single most important ingredient in tequila is passion.