I first heard about LALO tequila from the bartender at Soho House in Austin. I had asked for something new and interesting beyond the endless procession of Casamigos and Padron that I’ve been seeing poured into my margaritas, and this bottle of LALO was the first thing he reached for. Based on that one margarita, I knew this bottle needed the full review treatment.
It’s (unfortunately) rare that we see a tequila brand emerge with an actual pedigree, coming from a history of tequila makers, these days. Thankfully, this bottle seems to be an exception to that trend.
Eduardo “Lalo” González came from a long line of tequila distillers — his nickname of “Lalo” was given to him by his grandfather Don Julio González, the founder and namesake of Don Julio tequila. Eduardo learned all he could about the family tradition and spent 10 years in the tequila industry before deciding to strike out on his own, envisioning a brand of tequila that embodied the purest version of a blanco tequila.
His tequila started as a small batch intended for friends and family, but quickly grew and expanded into the widely distributed brand that it has become today.
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This bottle is intended to be a pure vision of a blanco tequila and it seems to hit all the right notes (at least on paper).
As a blanco tequila, this is required to be made from blue agave plants as the raw material. In this case, 100% of the raw material being used is agave plants and with no extra added sugar. Those agave plants grow for about eight years before being harvested and shipped to the distillery, where they are roasted in traditional brick ovens between 20 and 32 hours. This roasting converts the starches in the agave fibers into sugars and softens the hard agave core, which is then pressed by rollers to extract the sugary juice.
I’ll note that, for most modern distilleries, industrial autoclaves, acid, and mechanical shredders seem to be the standard way of processing agave cores. But LALO has purposefully chosen to use less efficient methods that are more traditional to the process and tend to impart more character into the final product.
That sugary liquid from the agave cores is added to water and fermented using a proprietary yeast strain based on Champagne yeast for a period of three to four days, which is longer than normal and also tends to add character and flavor to the spirit. Once the yeast has converted all the sugar in the mixture into alcohol, it is distilled twice to concentrate the alcohol and select the right components that they want to capture and bottle.
For this blanco edition, LALO proofs down and chill filters their freshly produced tequila to remove any fatty acids or other unwanted components prior to bottling and then ships the resulting spirit without any additives.
Getting minimalism right is a tough challenge. Too little and it looks unfinished, but too much and it looks cluttered. LALO does a good job of striking that balance with this bottle and label design, creating something clean and minimalistic that still has a bit of presence.
That choice of minimalism also ties nicely into their brand identity — they wanted the purest form of a blanco tequila, so going for a stripped down and minimalist design on the bottle feels like an extension of that. Its a deliberate and thoughtful choice, and not just a result of a bunch of marketing execs thinking about what sells best.
The bottle is generally rectangular in shape, with defined front and sides that have rounded edges. The bottle rounds quickly at the shoulder where it turns into a short neck, and is capped off with a gold colored stopper.
On the front of the bottle are two labels: a larger one with the brand logo and some details about the contents, and a smaller one beneath with just the brand name in capital letters. Both labels are printed on textured paper, which helps with the premium look and feel of the bottle. I also like that the text on the bottle is actually a charcoal or dark gray color instead of black, which helps soften things and keeps the label from feeling too stark.
There’s a great aroma coming off this glass — it’s warmer and more welcoming than most other blanco tequilas. Normally, you’d get a bit more alcohol bite on the nose — but this spirit is well rounded, with herbal agave front and center supported by some of that agave sweetness. Around the edges I get a bit of lemon citrus and some black pepper as well, but more as supporting aromas.
Sipping this spirit is a smooth and enjoyable experience without any bitterness or unpleasantness. The very first thing I’m getting is a flash of lemon citrus, followed by some agave sweetness along with a bit of grassy botanical flavor (which is absolutely that agave coming through loud and clear, likely a beneficial result of the care and attention that went into the production of the spirit). From there, a bit of black pepper joins the party and adds some spice, and on the finish I get some more of that lemon citrus that adds just a tiny hint of sourness to the flavor profile.
Usually, the addition of a bit of ice makes a spirit taste a little more dull. It removes some of the special charm that it once had, letting only the bolder flavors through. In this case, there are definitely some changes — but I think the spirit still works.
On the nose, the aroma you’re getting off the glass is more citrus and lemon forward with only a touch of herbal agave. This also dominates the flavor when you take a sip, as that citrus flash lingers throughout the entire flavor profile. The biggest change is that the herbal agave has moved from the star player of the spirit to a supporting member of the cast, with the black pepper and citrus now taking most of the attention. The agave note is still there, but much more subdued.
One thing about that black pepper is that while it is still there, it doesn’t quite have the same bite as before. There isn’t as much spice, it’s now more of an earthy characteristic instead.
The majority of the work in a margarita is done by the mixers — the lime juice and the Cointreau. Those citrus flavors of the lime and the orange provide most of what we taste, with the tequila mainly providing the alcohol content. But the difference between a good margarita and a great one is whether the flavor components from the tequila can make themselves visible above the loud and obnoxious mixers.. and in this case, I think LALO works very well.
This is a well balanced margarita, with some of the sweet herbal notes from the agave coming through to balance out the louder and more acidic components from the citrus. That herbaceousness, like a bit of fresh cut grass, also comes through to help differentiate this from other cocktails and make this a more interesting drink. And then, on the finish, that black pepper comes along to add just a bit of needed depth and texture to make this really complete.
It’s a damn good marg.
Honestly, there are very few blanco tequilas that I actually enjoy sipping neat. This is one of them.
There’s plenty of flavor and character here and an overall pleasant experience that just gets better as you turn this into a margarita. When you’ve tasted as many tequilas as I have, you start to see the difference between a tequila that has been mass produced and rushed, and one where some care and attention went into the craft. This absolutely tastes like the latter situation, in which the flavor has been carefully curated and perfected before being sold on the market.
For this price range, I’d put this right on par with Casamigos. There’s a difference though — while I personally like the vanilla flavor in Casamigos that comes from the brief rest in oak barrels, I respect and enjoy the clean take that LALO has. In choosing a preference between the two, it really comes down to the mood I’m in that day and it could go either way.
|LALO Blanco Tequila|
Produced By: LALOProduction Location: Jalisco, Mexico
Proof: 40% ABV
Price: $49.99 / 750 ml
Product Website: Product Website
Overall Rating: 4/5
A deliciously smooth tequila that features herbal agave notes, citrus, black pepper, and is on par with Casamigos for the quality and flavor.