1. Local story – Yes, Don Pilar is actual tequila, which means it must be made in Jalisco, Mexico (in the Lowlands and Highlands around the town of Tequila. Now that we have that out of the way, I want to highlight that Don Pilar (aka Jose Pilar Contreras) is a local, Bay Area entrepreneur and all-around, Mexican-American success story.
Born and raised in the Jaliscan highlands where his tequila is distilled (near the town of San Jose de Gracia), tequila was in his blood. He moved to California in the 1960s to work its orchards and fields. With two business partners, he opened the popular Tres Amigos in Half Moon Bay in the 80s (theres now three locations). He also launched his own Amigos Grill in Portola Valley, where his whole family works. In 2002, he pursued his next venture: anejo tequila. Don Pilar is that rare figurehead who is hands-on in every aspect of his businesses. Its not uncommon to find him buying supplies and produce or working the kitchen, nor to catch him supervising the agave fields in Mexico..
2. Anjeo value – Youd be hard-pressed to find a better anejo at this price. At places like the Jug Shop or K&L, the anejo can be priced in the low $30s, a steal for an anejo this good. As tequilas aged, golden counterpart, anejos usually cost well more than a blanco or reposado.
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This double-distilled anejo has been aged in virgin American white oak barrels with a medium char. The taste is redolent of butterscotch, chocolate, toasted agave. With a full, round finish, it has won a few awards, keeping up with other anejos that cost at least twice as much.
3. Release of their brand new Blanco – Starting with their anejo, they recently added to the family with Don Pilar Blanco. Just as blanco is young, unaged tequila, the bottle sports a photo of a younger Don Pilar (the anejo bottle carries a recent image). The blanco keeps pace in quality with its older sibling. Clean, bright with pineapple and zest, it has a gently creamy finish. After a release party at the legendary Tommys (of course you can sample both Don Pilar tequilas there, and in restaurants like Tropisueno, Colibri, Maya, Seasons Bar at the Four Seasons, even El Farolito), it feels only right to celebrate tequilas that hold up in the saturated tequila world, but also have local roots.