09/04/2022 Mexican family firm walks off with Tequila of the Year prize.
Don Fulano Imperial Five-Year-Old Tequila Añejo
One of the fastest-growing spirits sectors, tequila is forecast to increase in value from an annual US$9.89 bn in 2021 to US$14.7 bn in 2028, a CAGR of 5.8% over the period, according to the IWSR.
And one of the very top brands, the Mexican Don Fulano Imperial Five-Year old Tequila Añejo has just scooped the top prize at the prestigious London Spirits Competition, walking off with the Tequila of the Year Award.
Aged in new French oak barrels, the award-winning 40% ABV tequila is produced by the Fonesaca family in the highlands of Jalisco in Mexico, where their forefathers have been producing premium blue agave for over 140 years, initially supplying some of the top tequila producers of the time.
And since the 1980s the family has been producing their own tequila at the Tequileña Distillery owned by parent company DF Desarrollo Global under the Don Fulano brand. Made from only three simple ingredients, agave, yeast, and water – the hand-selected mature Maduro and Pinot agave is slowly cooked and naturally fermented using proprietary yeast, distilled in copper, and rested in dark European oak.
While up to 95% of all aged tequila is matured in ex-bourbon white American oak casks, Don Fulnano does things differently. The American oak casks can easily overwhelm the subtle flavors of the agave, and therefore the Don Fulano producers choose instead to age their product in former wine European oak barrels, primarily those which held wines from Burgundy, Bordeaux, and the Loire Valley in France, as well as others from Spain and Eastern Europe.
After the aging process, each batch is blended from carefully selected barrels by the master of the cellar, and then aged for between five years and up to 12 and finished in Olorosso sherry casks before being bottled without any additives.
The Imperial tequila was singled out by the judges for being “a wonderfully smooth and rich extra Añejo, with a great combination of elegance and power,” though their job of selecting the overall winners was made all the harder by the sheer number of entries in the competition, which this year saw over 2,500 spirits from 80 countries vying for bronze, silver and gold medals, a massive 50% increase on the previous year.
One of the country’s most highly regarded drinks awards and now in its fifth year, the London Spirits Competition recognizes the very best in spirits, not only for their taste but also for their market viability and packaging, as judged by an expert team of drinks industry professionals.
Respected for their expertise and impartiality, the judges rose to the challenge, finally awarding a total of 93 points to the Don Fulano Imperial brand, admiring it for its “bitter chocolate aromas, and earthy notes such as peat and honey”.
Image: Mexican Don Fulano Imperial Five-Year old Tequila Anejo wins Tequila of the Year at the London Spirits Competition - 2022
The top panel of judges, comprised of some of the world’s leading figures from the hospitality sector included representatives from the country’s most prestigious restaurants, bars, and hotels such as the Ritz, Le Manoir, Gleneagles, the Goring, the Connaught, and Claridges. Judges from the retail and wholesale sector were also out in force, with individuals from Enotria, Selfridges, and Berry Bros & Rudd and a clutch of Master of Wines completing the exacting judging lineup, spending two days sniffing, swirling, tasting, and spitting their way through the vast array of entries.
But eventually, the quality of Don Fulano’s Imperial Tequila won over the judges, who deemed it the most worthy winner of the Best Tequila prize. Don Fulano Imperial is the oldest expression in the range, and is described as a “full-flavored, rich and complex tequila.” The company had an exceptionally good year at the London Spirits Competition, with another of its tequilas, the Tequila Don Fulano Anejo also winning a gold and racking up the same number of its points as the overall winner.