How Master Distiller Germán Gonzalez Drinks Tequila

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 Courtney Hinton

Germán Gonzalez's mission is simple: To get Americans to drink better tequila. "My sense is that Americans are ready for a better product now, something that can be paired with Mexican food, sipped and enjoyed like wine or fine whiskey,” he says. He thinks he's just the person to bring it.

A descendant of the former president, General Manuel Gonzalez, Germán comes from a distinguished Mexican family that has also been in the tequila trade for decades. He learned the trade from his father, who had an agave farm that has been producing craft tequila since 1983. The distillery was the first to have 100 percent blue agave tequila exported to the United States. Until then, most tequilas you'd find in the states were a blend of agave and an additional source of sugar (usually sugar cane), which Gonzalez says is "like drinking a glass of tequila and a glass of rum at the same time."


After his father's passing, Gonzalez began producing his own brands, using a friend's distillery in the highlands of Tequila country, where his signature brand T1 Tequila Uno was produced in five varieties and followed by super-aged, ultra-premium tequila, Tears of Llorona. The tequila enjoys limited distribution in the U.S. — you can find it in a smattering of shops or order it online — but he's planning to expand his footprint by opening his own distillery in the Tequila highlands area of Guanajuato in 2017. There, he also will introduce new brands, open a boutique hotel and tasting room, and continue his mission to spread the gospel of fine tequila. 

While the distillery won't open for more than a year, there is still something we can do to better our experience now: appreciate the tequila we have, by drinking it the right way. "Too many people only think of tequila in terms of salt and citrus," says Gonzalez. Here are his rules for pairing and drinking the most common tequila styles.  

Blanco
This ultra-fine clear tequila is best in an old-fashioned glass full of ice with a twist of lime, enjoyed as a cocktail or paired with an early course, such as ceviche.

Reposada
A deeper, darker tequila that should be enjoyed like wine, reposada pairs well with heartier courses, perhaps, a meat in mole sauce.

Anejo or Extra-Aneno
Aged like scotch, these tequilas should be enjoyed as such — after dinner, sipped straight or added to coffee.