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Meet the Maker: Graciela Gonzalez

The fourth-generation master Tequila distiller and ambassador for Destiladora Gonzalez Lux, Mexico, talks to Douglas Blyde about how she supports agave growers, her hopes for seeing more women join the industry, and what Tequila to pair with chocolate.

According to Food & Wine, there are “3,000-plus Tequila brands” on the market; what makes yours special?

Without a doubt, the quality of our Weber Blue Agave is. My family and I spend a lot of time ensuring we grow only the most exceptional plants. 100% agave Tequila is made from just two ingredients: Tequilana Blue Weber Agave and water. My father, Rodolfo Gonzalez, always says: “Amazing Tequila is made in the fields”. In a good case scenario, it can take around seven years to reap one harvest. If you don’t have a great process at the distillery, you can ruin all that hard work. So, at Destiladora Gonzalez Lux, we ensure that our traditional, efficient process maximises the amazing qualities of the agave. It’s a five-step traditional process of harvesting, cooking, pressing, fermenting and distilling, which makes Tequila such a unique spirit.

Why did you call it ‘El Mayor’?

Meaning “the eldest”, we chose El Mayor to honour my great-grandfather, Delfino Gonzalez, who taught my father how to grow agave and the art of Tequila making.

Are you proud to be the first female distiller in your family?

Extremely so, and I hope that more women will be inspired to take on such a mantle. It’s been a great pleasure to work alongside my father as well as my brother, Paul, who both supported me on this journey.

Did you feel obliged to rise to the role, or did you consider other vocations beforehand?

I grew up super close to my father – I still am – and wanted to follow in his footsteps. As a child, he would take me to the fields and the distillery. I loved listening to him explain the Tequila-making process. Later in life, I developed a passion for tasting different spirits and wines and enjoyed pairing them with food. I genuinely didn’t consider another career.

Do you use entirely estate-grown blue agave?

Most of the agave we use for El Mayor Tequila comes from plantations we own in the Valley and Los Altos areas, which are at least 1,600 metres above sea level. These higher climes produce unrivalled earthy, spicy and citrus flavours which are harder to create elsewhere. The remaining agave comes from partnerships we’ve built with agave growers. To keep consistency and ensure the highest quality, we provide a care package to our plantation partners to ensure the soil is in optimal condition. The package includes us providing supervision and education to support the growers, helping them take care of the plants, and teaching them how to prevent disease.

When in the year do you typically distil, and when do you blend?

It’s all year round. DGL works two shifts, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, so it’s a good job. We all love what we do. In terms of blending, it depends on planned outputs and whether we’re working on limited editions, which is always an exciting time.

Where are you based?

When I’m not travelling, I live in the City of Guadalajara. DGL is based outside Arandas in the state of Jalisco, which I visit weekly when I’m in Mexico. You should absolutely come to Mexico: there are many great cities, not just Tequila!

What are your hopes for the brand in the UK?

This is our first venture with El Mayor in the UK and Europe, and we’re super excited to see the response. We hope for continued growth and are very much looking forward to sharing our history, legacy and traditions with the trade and consumers.

How best should we enjoy your wares?

El Mayor Blanco is a perfect pairing with sushi, sashimi and ceviche. It’s so good during the summer with a splash of sparkling water, a lime twist, and some cucumber slices. Meanwhile, El Mayor Reposado pairs well with cooked prawns and lean beef and makes for a crystalline lime margarita. Believe it or not, the richer El Mayor Añejo works with lamb, pork and chocolate puddings. Finally, El Mayor Cristalino is best sipped over ice with pistachio and rose-flavoured macarons.

What awards are you most proud to have garnered?

In addition to multiple awards in North America, we were delighted to be awarded the highest accolade of Master in The Spirits Business’ Tequila & Mezcal Masters for our Añejo and Gold for our Blanco.

Would you describe yourself as patient?

Although not so much in life, I am very patient when crafting Tequila; you have to be in order to produce Tequila.

Does it concern you that younger generations appear to be shunning alcohol?

Younger generations are more concerned with the quality of the spirits they consume rather than the quantity. They’re also interested in the provenance of what they’re consuming. As a Tequila producer, this is a real opportunity. It’s about savouring the product.

Who, from history, would you wish to savour your Tequila with?

Frank Sinatra.

El Mayor Blanco, Reposado and Añejo are available from Master of Malt (

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