Words: Lucy Sarah O’Connell | Images: Supplied
If the word “tequila” makes you think of wild nights, salt, and lemon, it’s time to change that. For discerning tequila drinkers, the product of the famous agave plant comes in many different forms and is a fine art to be appreciated and savoured by its drinker, and no one feels this more strongly than Guillermo Erickson Sauza. The great-great-grandson of Don Cinobio Sauza, one of the founding fathers of tequila in Mexico, today Guillermo is the genius behind La Fortaleza tequila and is slowly changing the face of this centuries-old drink.
Using only the same small-batch stone crushing production method that his family was using way back in the late 1800s, La Fortaleza is still made in the same ancient distillery on the slopes of an extinct volcano in Jalisco, Tequila. It’s also the place where Guillermo’s grandfather first taught him the importance of the family business, saying, “This land is the land of my father, and before him, it was the land of my grandfather. This is the land of the agave. You must always take care of it because this land is the lifeblood of our lives.” Fast forward, and it’s almost certain that Guillermo’s grandfather could never have anticipated just how much that lifeblood would grow, with the authentic taste of true-blue agave tequila now being sold as La Fortaleza all over the world.
Blue agave takes seven or eight years to mature before it can be harvested and then gently turned into tequila – which is part of what makes real tequila brands so special. Like master whiskey distillers or passionate winemakers, Guillermo’s goal as a master tequila blender is to make the best tequila that they possibly can, while appreciating and respecting the process. “To this day, we have not changed a single thing. While others focus on modern-day processes to speed up efficiency, we look back and use traditional, artisanal methods to produce the best tequila possible, and by doing so we honour our great-great-grandfather, great-grandfather, and grandfather.”
Impossibly smooth, beautifully sip-able, and undeniably timeless, enjoy yours neat, on the rocks, or in a simple cocktail. Whatever you do, just don’t reach for the salt and lemon.
La Fortaleza is found at leading bottle stores throughout Joburg.