Don Julio dropped two luxe expressions this year, culmination with a rerelease of Don Julio Ultima Reserva, its top-end bottling which was originally released in 2021. We missed round one but were excited to see a second small release of this 36-month old extra anejo hit the market in time for the 2022 holiday season. Nothing seems to have changed with the recipe for this extra-rare expression, which sees the tequila aged for 36 months in oak and finished in Madeira wine casks. Don Julio says it uses a solera style for the aging of this tequila, but it’s unclear exactly how that works alongside the 36-month old age notation.
Why “Ultima”? It is made with the final agave harvest planted by Don Julio González (who died 10 years ago) and his family in 2006.
Turns out, the solera details don’t really matter. This is an exceptional tequila that deserves immediate attention — albeit also an equally outsized financial outlay.
Starting things off, the nose doesn’t shy away from agave. This is no syrupy extra anejo that’s all sugar, but rather a brighter exploration of both the earth and the barrel, with notes of caramel, sweet tea, lemon cake, and coconut all making for a dazzlingly complex aromatic mix — all infused with peppery agave.
The palate shines, showcasing cinnamon cookies and brown sugar — almost like churros at times — though again the agave keeps everything in balance. A strong vein of vanilla and chocolate both build as the finish, reminding me of chocolate mousse at times, though dusted so gently with notes of white pepper. It’s a heady experience but never a heavy one, and it’s one of the most approachable and balanced extra anejos I’ve ever encountered. In a category where balance is often elusive, Don Julio nails it with this special release.
80 proof. 4,000 cases produced. NOM 1449.