For Santiago Gallardo, the history of tequila is in his blood. “My mother, the Gallardo family, is from Jalisco and they’ve been living there for the past 300 years or so and the family hacienda produced tequila.”
The state of Jalisco, located in western Mexico, also happens to the home of a volcano named Tequila – true story – that erupted over 200,000 years ago and is the reason the region has such rich and fertile soil. Perfect for growing, cultivating and farming the blue agave plant that is essential to Volcán De Mi Tierra – the latest offering from luxury wine and spirits division of Moët Hennessy and their first ever tequila, created at the Gallardo family distillery.
Even over the digital confines of Zoom, the chief operating officer for Volcán De Mi Tierra emits a contagious, joyful passion as he discusses the history of his family and their connection to the production of the popular spirit.
“My family also owns sugar mills throughout Mexico – we have the largest operating sugar mill in the country’s tequila region. [But tequila], that’s our business.”
And business is booming. Globally, tequila is among the fastest growing spirits categories across the world and perhaps one of the most misunderstood.
Formally founded back in 2017, Volcán De Mi Tierra was actually born of a collaboration from a chance meeting in 2014 between Santiago’s uncle, Juan Gallardo, and former head of the drinks arm for LVMH, Christophe Navarre. They pair had been attending a conference in Paris that aimed to strengthen ties between the French and Mexican economies. After leaving to have lunch together, Juan asked Navvare: ‘How come Moët Hennessy doesn’t have a tequila?’ And that was the beginning of Agrotequilera de Jalisco, the parent brand that owns Volcán.”
But what is it about Volcán that makes it so unique?
According to Santiago, Volcán De Mi Tierra is a celebration of the terroirs that blend to create the particularly rich and delightful flavour profile of his family’s tequila. Unlike other tequilas, Santiago explains to produce the spirit, only the blue agave plant is used to create the spirit. The complexity of the flavours comes from the land itself, with the agave plants sourced from both highlands and the lowlands, this allows for a greater depth of complexity on the palate when drinking. “All Volcán De Mi Tierra tequila profiles are blends,” says Santiago.
“Lowlands are regularly earthier, more mineral, and easier to drink. And highlands agave is fruitier, floral, and a bit more astringent. So those two mixed, we thought it gave a special profile.”
That same terroir that is captured by Volcán is also a nod to tequila’s ancient origins – in many ways, says Santiago, his family’s tequila was over two hundred centuries in the making. The clue is in the name – Volcán De Mi Tierra, or Land of the Volcáno, which pays homage to that all-important eruption of Volcán de Tequila during the Acheulean Stage.
Terroir, provenance, heritage, complexity of palate – for those of us whose only experience of tequila is as an essential ingredient of margaritas or our favourite shot of the night, the use of formal terminology more associated with wine might sound a little unfamiliar. But part of Volcán’s message, explains Santiago, is the reeducation of tequila’s place as a drink worthy of sipping. Of savouring. Much like a whiskey or even a rum.
“Tequila in itself is a lot more complex than most beverages,” explains Gallardo. “If you were comparing it to whiskey, you might get 300 aromas in whiskey. In tequila, there’s over 500.”
Currently, Australia has access to two of Volcán’s tequila expressions. The Volcán De Mi Tierra Blanco, a fine everyday sipping that blends agave from both low- and highlands and has a blend of bright, fruity notes with more herbal and spicier notes; and the Volcán De Mi Tierra Añejo Cristalino Tequila which has notes of tobacco, dried fruit, chocolate and vanilla.
Earlier this year, the brand cemented the premiumisation with the launch of Volcán X.A. in Las Vegas. A blend of Reposado, Añejo, and Extra-Añejo tequilas, the X.A. has received acclaim among the drinks world for its smooth, easy flavour and silky finish, ideal for drinking neat over ice. But according to Santiago, this method of drinking tequila isn’t new to the X.A., or to tequila itself. It’s just that the rest of the world is finally catching up to the drink’s potential.
“Mexico has been sipping tequila for as long as I know. I just looked at menus from different nightclubs in London, for example, because we just launched the Volcán new X.A. there, the highest priced spirit in the menu is tequila. That speaks a long way, and I think that’s related to how people are beginning to adopt tequila as a premium spirit.”