Behind the Bottle: Don Julio Master Distiller Enrique De Colsa
Welcome to the first edition of Behind the Bottle! This is a series where I get a chance to talk to the people behind everyone’s favorite wine and spirits. The passion and artistry is what makes things interesting and each bottle unique. This article features Don Julio’s Master Distiller Enrique De Colsa.
September 16th is the annual Mexican Independence Celebration. In Austin, there is a very large Hispanic community. In conjunction with the Viva Mexico 2014 celebration, a local artist, Joel Salcido, debuted a new exhibit at the Mexican American Cultural Center (runs through November 29th, 2014). The exhibit, Aliento Tequila, features the fields and artistry of tequila making at Don Julio. During the event, I was able to meet both the artist and Don Julio’s Master Distiller Enrique De Colsa.
Enrique has been with Don Julio for 15 years. He joined in 1999 and was able to work alongside the legend, Don Julio himself, for 5 years before moving into the lead distiller position. The brand of Don Julio is one of history, tradition and quality. The initial batches back in 1942 were for family and friends only. Profit was not a goal but amazing and high quality tequila was the key.
Tequila is the national drink of Mexico but it means much more than that to the people. Since the time of the Aztecs, the blue agave has made the elixir or gift of the gods. The blue agave used to make the tequila is key to the economy of Jalisco. Like Champagne in France and Chianti in Italy, Tequila is a geographically specific product meaning the government closely monitors production. Don Julio is made from hand harvested agave that’s allowed to grow for 7-10 years located high in the hills of Jalisco. The journey is tough and the people tougher. The tradition and economic impact Don Julio provides to the community puts pressure on Enrique to continue delivering the high quality product people expect.
© Joel Salcido 2012
In 1988, Enrique first met Don Julio. They had a close relationship throughout the years. As an industrial engineer (yes, another engineer! and he couldn’t believe I was one too), he worked in liquid handling. Pumps, pipes, valves…all the fun things behind the scenes. His work led him to milk, juices and spirits. The spirits caught his attention and love for tequila grew over time. After a time, Enrique went with his passion and began working as a distributor. Ultimately this led to a distilling role in a small tequila company. These three years allowed him to cut his teeth in the industry. Once word of this success made it to Don Julio, he insisted that Enrique come work for him. And as they say, the rest is history!
It was such a great experience talking with Enrique and look forward to taking him up on his offer to visit.
Tagged: behind the bottle, distiller, interview, Tequila