Eduardo “Lalo” González knows a thing or two about making tequila. It’s in his blood, after all: His grandfather was Don Julio González, founder of his eponymous prestige tequila brand.
“My family helped elevate tequila into the premium spirit category we see today,” González, 31, tells The Manual. “My father took my grandfather’s ideas to the next level with his passion for excellence.”
In 2020, the millennial distiller carried on the family tradition with the launch of his own tequila brand, Lalo, which caters to a younger generation. It’s a departure from his grandfather’s legacy brand. For starters, Lalo only contains three ingredients: agave, champagne yeast, and water.
“We don’t try to mask the flavor of our tequila with barrels or additives,” González says from Lalo’s Austin, Texas headquarters. “[It’s] blanco tequila in its purest, most honest form. That’s why it’s the only tequila [we] will ever make.”
Plus, Lalo’s ethos is rooted in social justice: Workers are guaranteed a fair living wage, and González’s team regularly provides community development initiatives for the people of Los Altos de Jalisco, the Mexican region where Lalo is sourced and made.
You can feel the sense of pride González has when he speaks of his family, his friends, and the tequila he helped create. To him, Don Julio was just like any normal Mexican grandfather.
“My grandfather was a very hard worker,” he says. “He even started his tequila career as a distillery janitor at the age of 7. He worked his entire life as a tequilero and businessman, eventually becoming the most famous person in the industry – but he was always humble … His humbleness inspires me every day.”
After spending his teens working at his grandfather’s distillery, González decided to create his own legacy. In 2015, González teamed up with his childhood friend David R. Carbillido to develop a tequila brand that resonates with a younger audience and promotes the spirit and culture of Mexico. Their small-batch tequila was originally intended for private use between friends and family while living in Guadalajara, but then the word got out and people were asking for it more and more. And so they enlisted the help of their friend Jim McDermott to distribute Lalo in America.
“We are three young guys with very different backgrounds, but we have common goals to achieve with Lalo – showcasing Mexico, honoring the agave, and building this incredible brand,” González says.
And in honoring his grandfather’s philanthropic spirit, Lalo is giving back to its community. The brand regularly donates school supplies, books, and gifts to Kinder Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla, an orphanage in Arandas, Jalisco.
“You have to care about where your products come from,” González says. “You have to care about the effect on society and the environment.”
Which is why his tequila is sustainably made. In addition to working only with agave farmers who have an environmental certification, Lalo keeps their packaging minimal. No fancy wooden boxes or anything that will create additional waste or contribute to landfills. Just the bottle, the simple label, and the juice.
And Lalo’s interior is just as impressive. González’s blanco tequila is smooth enough to be sipped on its own but works perfectly with a margarita. It’s like his grandfather’s blanco tequila, but the finish isn’t as sweet.
Don Julio may have revolutionized tequila and the tequila bottle, but Lalo brings tequila back to its roots.
“In the old days, tequila was a cheap spirit and not very well valued. Nowadays, it’s because tequila brings people together,” he says. “Tequila is often called the people’s spirit because Lalo is not only about drinking tequila, but also about experiencing the true essence of Mexico and sharing a story that matters,” says Lalo.
Read more: Best Sustainable Brands
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