Feeling Blue

01 December, 2017


Despite being the brains behind one of the most internationally recognised 100% agave tequila brands, Don Julio master distiller Enrique de Colsa does not dismiss the regular category.

“It’s important to understand

what quality is,” he says. “Yes, it’s a great thing to be 100% but there are some very good tequilas which are not 100% agave.

“There are tequilas with 49% and 51% which are very well done and they are much better than bad 100% tequilas.

“But, of course, the best 100% is going to be nicer than the 49%-51%. Just having 100% is no guarantee of quality.”

This means that consumers, especially in Europe where education about tequila is still lacking, could be paying extra for a product which is not up to standard.

“I absolutely agree with that 100%,” says Estes, apologising for the pun. “There are many 100% agave tequilas which are not respectfully made. They don’t respect the agave, they don’t respect the process of making it by adding chemicals and they don’t respect us as consumers.

“As an example [of how a regular tequila can taste better than 100% agave], I was in a bar called La Capilla in Tequila town and its house pour is a well-crafted regular tequila. I call it regular because the tequila industry doesn’t like to use the word mixtos.”


There are two trends currently driving the popularity of premium tequilas in Europe and ultimately putting pressure on supplies.

Estes and his son, Jesse, sell their Ocho tequila in Europe and Tomas is a firm believer in the effects of terroir on the spirit. “Terroir is something that is new for spirits and we’re having a lot of fun with it,” he says.

“We don’t really know what it is about the natural influences such as soil, sun and heat that creates various flavour profiles and differences but it definitely does.”

Estes says that the more stress put on the agave and the less habitable the terrain is, the more characterful the flavours are. The agave used for Estes’ Ocho are grown in the highlands where it isn’t as hot and the plants struggle more – essentially they are being bullied to get more flavour.

“Jesse and I have been spreading this message in Europe for the past eight or nine years and it is received by the French wonderfully. Those who have an understanding of terroir and wine are often very interested.”

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