Tequila Fortaleza launched in 2005, so is relatively new to the market, but there is over 140 years of history behind the brand.
Don Cenobio, founded his first distillery, La Perseverancia "€œ in 1873, in the town of Tequila, Jalisco.
Not only was Don Cenobio the first person to export “mezcal de tequila"� to the United States, shorten the name to just Tequila, and implement the use of steam to cook the agave (instead of an earthen pit), Cenobio also stated that the Blue Agave was the best agave to use for production.
His son, Eladio, took over the family business in 1909 when Don Cenobio had passed away. During his time, Don Eladio brought the nectar of the gods to the world, under various names such as Mexican brandy, Mexican whiskey, tequila, and as an aperitif. During the Mexican Revolution, Eladio helped to establish tequila as the national drink of Mexico. He also founded the distillery, La Constancia.
Don Eladio died in 1946, and left the family business to his son, Francisco Javier who brought about more changes to the industry and made the family"„¢s tequila the most well-known brand in the world. The single most important thing that Don Javier did for the industry was to help establish the Denomination of Origin for Tequila.
While on a business trip to Japan in the late 1960"„¢s, Don Javier came across a bottle of 'Japanese Tequila'. Angered by this, he stated that tequila can only be made in Mexico, specifically, in the area around Tequila. A group of tequila producers, led by Don Javier, filed an application for an appellation of origin in 1973, but it wasn"„¢t until 1996 when the world officially recognized the Denomination of Origin for Tequila.
Don Javier bought a piece of land in the town of Tequila so he could build a hacienda on the highest point of town, overlooking his rival"„¢s distillery. On this land sat a small distillery, which Don Javier named La Fortaleza.
With a small brick oven, a tahona pit, a few wood fermentation vats, and 2 small copper pot stills, the family produced tequila here until 1968. Because the distillery was not “efficient enough"�, and did not produce much tequila, she was shut down and converted into a museum to show how tequila was made in the “old days"�.
Don Javier sold the family business in 1976, but the family kept the land with their hacienda and distillery. In 1999, Don Javier"„¢s grandson, Guillermo, began the process of getting the old distillery up and running again.
The son of Doña Sylvia, Guillermo grew up thinking that he was going to fly around the world in a jet plane with a mariachi band, promoting the family"„¢s tequila.
Heartbroken when his grandfather sold the company, Guillermo still had a love and passion for Tequila, the spirit and the town.
After several years of renovations and hard work, Don Guillermo got Destileria La Fortaleza up and running again, making tequila in the same way it was made over 100 years ago, with a small brick oven to cook the agave, a tahona to squeeze the juices out of the agave, wood tanks for fermentation, and the 2 original copper pots for distillation.
While the family had always pushed the tequila industry forward, they still look back. Using traditional and artisanal methods, with the goal to make the best tequila they can. By doing so, they hope to honor their great-great grandfather, great grandfather, and grandfather.
Viva Los Abuelos!! Viva Fortaleza!!
Fortaleza Blanco is made from 100% blue agave, fermented in open-air, wood tanks, double-distilled in copper pot stills and bottled in hand-blown bottles.
Tequila Fortaleza is made the way tequila was made 150 years ago. The use of old-world machinery and processes creates a unique tequila experience.
As if stepping into a time machine, Fortaleza shows you what tequila tasted like before processes were sped up in the name of “efficiency."� They take their time, produce only in small batches, and are proud of what they do.
The agaves come from the heartland of tequila, known as Tequila Valley, in Jalisco, Mexico. They are allowed o grow and mature for at least 8 years before they are harvested.
The agave"„¢s that grow around the distillery are very sweet and mineral-rich, and have a lot to do with the signature aromas and flavours of Fortaleza tequila.
These mature agave plants can grow to be very large. On average, each plant can produce about 8 or 9 bottles of tequila.
It takes a specially trained “jimador"� to harvest these giant blue agave plants, with their dangerously sharp points, it can cause injury if you"„¢re not careful.
Agaves are slowly cooked for 36 hours in Fortaleza"„¢s very old stone oven. They take their time with this stage, and don"„¢t rush the process, the results are fantastic. Agaves are careful loaded by hand, and then the door is sealed shut, and steam is injected into the oven.
As the agaves slowly cook, starches inside the agaves turn into sugars, and deep caramelization happens best when you slow down and use the old traditional way.
Once the agaves are cooked, they must cool down. It takes another 24 hours for them to be at a temperature where they can be hand-removed from the oven, and advance to the next stage in the process.
Fortaleza tequila is 100% stone crushed. Using a “tahona"� (a large round 2-ton volcanic stone) pulled by an electric tractor (which took the place of their mule after he died) all the agave fibres are crushed in a stone pit inside of the distillery. In this step the sugars are separated from the fibres of the plant so that the fermentation can fully occur.
Using a tahona is considered “inefficient"� by modern standards. It takes longer, and still leaves some sugar behind. But once again, what matters to Fortaleza is the final product, and not the bottom line.
If you"„¢re familiar with cooking, you already know that producing sauces (or guacamole) by grinding them with a mortar and pestle produces a very different end result than if you were to speed up the process with a food processor. The same thing is at play here.
Fermentation is done in wooden open-air tanks. Using a special yeast that has been in the family for generations. The yeast is allowed it to do its job: eat sugars, and produce alcohol.
Once again, no shortcuts are taken. No additional sugars are added to this process. All Fortaleza tequilas are made of 100% blue agave, and no yeast-accelerating chemicals are added. It may take longer, but the results speak for themselves.
It takes about 4 days before the yeast consumes all of the sugar. When fermentation is completed, it is pumped to the other side of the room where it can be distilled.
Fortaleza is distilled twice in traditional copper pot stills. These stills have been in place since the distillery was built more than 100 years ago, and they bring a certain amount of “magic"� to the process.
The first time through the still creates a product known as “ordinario"�, which is approximately 20% alcohol by volume. This ordinario is collected in a stainless-steel tank, and then it is sent through the still one more time.
The second pass is when ordinario is turned into tequila. At this stage the tequila is about 46% alcohol. Many tequila brands will distil to 55% or 60% because it is cheaper to store. That"„¢s not how Fortaleza operate, they distil “close to proof"� because they want to preserve as much of the agave flavour as possible.
Fortaleza is aged in used American oak barrels. These barrels are re-chipped and re-charred and bring a great deal of depth and complexity to Fortaleza Reposado and Añejo tequilas.
Fortaleza Reposado rests in barrels for 7 months, and Fortaleza Añejo remains for 2 years before it is bottled.
The bottles used by Fortaleza are hand-blown in Jalisco, Mexico. As a result, each one is a tiny bit different. Not only do they produce tequila with traditional methods, they also use bottles the way they were made 150 years ago as well.
The distillery has a single, very small bottling station set up inside of the distillery. Tequila is bottled, capped, labelled, and packed in cases for shipment.
Agave Source: Tequila Valley
Cooking Method: Stone/brick oven
Crushing Method: 100% stone crushed
Distillation: Double Distilled
Pot Style: Copper pots
Proof: 80 (40% abv)
Fermentation: Open-air wood tanks
Sugars: 100% agave
Water Source: Natural Spring (Tequila Valley)
Bottles: Hand-blown in Mexico
Aromas of citrus, and rich cooked agave fill your nose in this unique and very special blanco tequila. Also present: butter, olive, earth, black pepper, and a deep inviting vegetal complexity.
Flavours include citrus, cooked agave, vanilla, basil, olive, and lime. The finish is long and deep, complex yet easy to drink.