Fortaleza Tequila, Guillermo Erickson Sauza is fifth generation family member and producer for one of the few family-owned tequila houses left in Mexico. He talks about the tequila industry, the new boom, the tequila in his blood and his love of the Harley Davidson motorcycle. Read the full interview in the Drinks Trade Spring print edition out this month.
What does tequila mean to you?
Most people are introduced to the spirit, maybe in a bar when they are 18. We grew up with it. My grandfather owned Sauza at the time, and my great grandfather started that company, so it was part of our persona, you might say. Sauza, at the time, was the number one brand in Mexico and the world in the 60s and 70s. My grandfather was a workaholic. The distillery was always in some state of growth. What it means to me is a lot; it is part of my life. It’s also a great source of revenue for Mexico and means a lot of jobs. The industry employs 70,000 people.
Was it true your family were responsible for the tequila appellation or Denomination of Origin?
Yes, my grandfather pushed the Chamber of Commerce for tequila makers, and for the appellation. This was in the 1960s. My grandfather would travel the world and understood the value of an appellation. Several other people participated in getting it done. Thank god we got it done because giving us the appellation means we can’t get copied. For example, my grandfather went to Japan in 1962 and found Japanese distributors making a product they called tequila, but it wasn’t tequila and wasn’t made in Mexico. He fought that. It has been a boon for all the tequila makers and for Jalisco and the other municipalities included in the appellation. It is a boon having that protection.
In a few words, how would you describe Fortaleza tequila?
Very tasty, very traditional, no burn. It’s what your grandfather and great grandfather used to drink because that is how we make it. It is a taste that is long gone. The industry people adopted us and recommend us all the time. We do it all through word of mouth from the industry people, and from the bottom of our hearts, we thank them. There is an old saying- you can’t bullshit a bartender.