Some call it the tequila for whiskey lovers. Tears of Llorona, an extra-extra añejo, begins as 100% blue agave, hand-selected in Jalisco by Master Tequilero Germán Gonzalez. He slow roasts the pinas, before distillation in a copper pot, as most tequileros might.
But, then, artfully and fearlessly, Gonzalez diverges. He uses three distinct cask types for aging—brandy, scotch and sherry—each meant to impart a characteristic gravitas that, when fused, produce a sipping tequila full of umami-like depth. Expect to taste caramel custard, dried fruit, and dark chocolate in this exclusive, limited production tequila. Recalling a cognac or single malt, Tears of Llorona, named for one of Mexico’s most beloved fairy tales, conjures magic.
We caught up with Germán Gonzalez to share a tipple.
For anyone who has read Mexican literature or studied the nation’s folklore, the doleful tale of La Llorona has left a mark. Why did you name this prodigious anejo after her?
I have very good memories of my father telling me stories and legends; he was very good at it, but his best was La Llorona. Whenever I talk about barrel aging, as my father taught me to do it, I always talk about the flavors of the spirits that aging brings.
You are a fifth generation tequilero, trained by your father.
My father would spend every weekend in the Tamaulipas agave ranches; it was his passion. I was one of nine children and was always the most interested in his work at the ranches. As we say in Mexico, “That passion is not stolen, it is inherited.” So for me, the care of the agaves, as well as the other plantations and the care of the cattle, came naturally to me. He taught me to always put the well-being of the people who lovingly worked with us first.
What makes Tears of Llorona different than other tequilas on the market today?
Tears of Llorona is a tequila with the complexities and flavor profile of some of the greatest whiskies and cognacs in the world. By combining the flavors of the different woods, I’ve created a product that naturally has a unique sophistication without losing its agave roots.
What did you settle on three different types of casks for aging?
When I started the aging in 2009, it was a very small production. It was more of a personal project and experimentation for me. I experimented with various types of barrels, not just three. As the barrels matured, I tasted them and began to discard those that did not adhere to the product that I envisioned. After five years, the scotch barrels gave me the dryness that all great spirits have, the brandy barrels brought a sweetness, and finally, the sherry barrels added a slight fruity flavor. These spirits agreed with the soul from our agave, and therefore, the legend was created.
You cook the agave at a lower temperature. What does this achieve?
Slow cooking for 20 hours or more helps achieve the greatest conversion of sugars possible without losing the flavors of the soil from which the agaves grew for at least 8 years.
How do you suggest drinking this tequila?
It’s best enjoyed neat at room temperature. I am a purist, so my recommendation for all types of tequila would be the Riedel Tequila Ouverture glass or a Glencairn whiskey glass. Because of the shape of the glass, when you are pouring the tequila, it allows oxygen to get in and the flavors to come out. The interesting thing about the tequila glass is the stem, so you don’t warm the tequila with your hands. A white wine glass will do this also. They all have really nice shapes and allow the smells to come to your nose. However, since so many of our fans come from the cognac and whiskey categories, we see Tears being consumed in snifters and rocks glasses, which is fine too. The quality of the tequila is more important than the glass.
Would you ever mix it with anything?
Personally I would not, but I know there must be several mixologists’ creations I would be willing to try.
How do you see the agave spirit trend, especially today, during the pandemic?
The pandemic is a tragedy for us all. I am hopeful that it can be defeated by our “better angels.” These days, we are spending more time with family, and Tears of Llorona has always been very much about family. It came from me expanding on ideas my father brought to life, and my recipe was originally only for my private family reserve. Tears of Llorona still goes best when shared with the people closest to you. It is a product of passion and emotion as much as it is of agave.
Tears of Llorona is very rare, made in small batches.
In order to achieve the magic of Tears of Llorona, every detail from the agaves I select, the maceration, fermentation and, of course, the five years of aging, all work together to develop the sophistication that characterizes the spirit. This process itself does not lend itself to mass production.
Where around the world has Tears of Llorona been most embraced?
We are relatively a new brand with very limited production (180 cases for the first years,) so all the production is currently exported to the U.S. There are just a very few cases in México (only for friends and friends’ businesses), and hopefully we will open the market in Spain in the future.