$$$ — 40% ABV — 7 months
The story of Fortaleza is, in many ways, the story of Tequila. Beginning with Cenobio Sauza, who founded the historic 1873 la Preservancia distillery and its pioneering steam cookers, the fledgling Sauza empire was passed to his son Eladio who quickly opened a second distillery, la Constancia.
Eladio passed the business on to his son Francisco Javier, who opened a third distillery, Fortaleza. Searching for wider distribution, Javier partnered with Spanish brandy giant Pedro Domecq and eventually sold to them controlling interest in Sauza and its primary distilleries. Sauza is now owned by Beam-Suntory, but the important bit is Javier kept ownership of his Fortaleza distillery, turning it into a museum.
Since being sold, Sauza brands have been met with middling reviews. This was perhaps inspiration for Cenobio's great-great-grandson Guillermo to reopen the Fortaleza distillery and create a product that may not be able to carry his family name, but at least carry the quality it was once associated with. All three of their expressions have since won Tequila.net's Best of the Best award.
Its time as a museum likely makes Fortaleza the most well-equipped Tequila distillery to talk about their process. Made in the central valley of Tequila, and situated at 4,000 feet, this lowland spirit keeps great balance between sweet and savory. Made in small copper stills and aged in re-charred Bourbon barrels, there's a distinct note of vanilla and brown butter. It's a rare Tequila with a lot of personality and complexity, certainly worth sitting down with.
Fortaleza is located in Tequila, Jalisco in western Mexico. Founded in the 1970s by Francisco Javier Sauza, it was reopened in 2005 by Guillermo Erickson Sauza and remains an independent producer.
green pepper, oak char, vanilla, butter, cacao, honeydew