Don Julio Tequila: A Brand Guide

By: Michael Prentice

Don Julio Logo
  • Founded: 1942
  • Owner: Diageo
  • Owner Headquarters: London, UK
  • Cases sold in 2022: 3.2 million
  • Bottles sold: 38 million
  • Value of retail sales 2022: US$1,910M
  • Norma Oficial Mexicana (NOM): NOM-1449
  • Distillery: Diageo Mexico Operaciones, Atotonilco El Alto, Jalisco
  • Region: Highlands

Don Julio is the third highest selling tequila brand in the world.

Don Julio tequila sales have grown strongly over recent years with 3.2 million cases sold in 2022. A case is made up of 12 bottles. This represents a growth rate of 16.9% over 2021. The brand has benefited from the market moving to more premium tequila. Don Julio has a tequila market share of about 6.9%.

Chart with sales volumes for Don Julio tequila
Sales of Don Julio tequila have grown strongly and are now above 3 million cases.

Don Julio Tequila Brand History

Don Julio was founded by Julio González-Frausto Estrada in 1942 when he was just 17 years old. The story goes that Don Julio went with a distinctive short tequila bottle, rather than the more common tall ones, so that the tequila could take pride of place on the dinner table with guests still able to see each other over the bottle.

In 1947 the distillery, La Primavera was built. The tequila produced here was marketed under the Tres Magueyes brand. The Don Julio brand was only introduced in 1987, by Juilo’s sons to commemorate his 60th birthday two years earlier.

In 1999 the Seagram Company invested in Don Julio. In 2001 Diageo acquired the spirits and wine business from Seagrams which included their stake in Don Julio. In 2003 Diageo entered a joint venture with the company behind Jose Cuervo, selling the Cuervo group a 50% stake in Don Julio for US$100 million. In November 2014 there was another rearrangement. Diageo traded its Bushmills Irish whiskey to Cuervo group in exchange for its 50% share in Don Julio plus US$408 million. This put Diageo back in full control of Don Julio.

Diageo has the second largest tequila sales of any company worldwide. Diageo also owns the fourth highest selling tequila brand, Casamigos.

Don Julio Anejo Tequila Boxes

Don Julio’s Product Range and Price Guide

Don Julio’s product range are all 100% agave and include: blanco, reposado (aged eight months), añejo (aged 18 months), añejo (sold as “1942”, aged two and a half years), extra añejo (Ultima Reserva), añejo cristalino (aged 18 months). Don Julio was relatively early in the cristalino trend, launching Don Julio 70 in 2012 which was the world’s first añejo cristalino. Don Julio 70 is now the world’s #1 selling cristalino.

There are also a number of limited release bottlings which take advantage of Diageo’s global spirit portfolio. For example, two tequilas finished in casks that previously held scotch whisky: Lagavulin single malt and Buchanan’s blended whisky (both Diageo brands).

Another seasonal release is called Primavera, after the brand’s first distillery, La Primavera. Primavera means spring, as in the season, in English. The tequila is a reposado, finished in a European cask that previously held wine infused with macerated orange peel. This added a light citrus taste. 

Don Julio’s most premium tequila in production is Don Julio 1942 Ultima Reserva Extra Añejo which sells for around $600.

ReposadoReposado8 months40%$57
AñejoAñejo18 months40%$64
70th AnniversaryAñejo (cristalino)18 months40%$74
1942Añejo2.5 years40%$175
Alma MielJovenUnaged & 14 months40%$99
PrimaveraReposado8 months + finishing40%$128
RosadoReposado8 months + finishing40%$127
Ultima ReservaExtra añejoSolera40%$500
RealExtra añejo5 years40%$400-$1,000
Don Julio Product Range. ABV shown for US. In Mexico ABVs are 35% to 38%

How Much is a Shot of Don Julio Tequila at a Bar?

A shot of Don Julio blanco, or reposado costs about $13 at a bar or restaurant in the US in 2024. A shot of the Don Julio añejo costs about $15. The prices can range from $7 to $17 with the añejo being the most expensive.

The most expensive Don Julio is Don Julio Real. Real is an extra añejo and costs around $50 per shot, but can be up to $75.

Other Don Julio shot prices:

  • A shot of Don Julio 70th Anniversary Cristalino costs around $17
  • A shot of Don Julio 1942 costs around $30, but can cost up to $75
  • A shot of Don Julio Rosado costs around $22 but can cost up to $35
  • A shot of Don Julio Primavera costs around $29

This is based on a review I made of tequila menus from 19 bars and restaurants in different states across the US.

A standard shot is 1.5 ounces, but bars can serve 1 to 2 ounce shots which can impact the price of shot of Don Julio tequila.

Bottle of Don Julio 70 Cristalino Tequila

How Much is a Bottle of Don Julio Tequila?

Don Julio tequila’s base range (blanco, reposado and añejo) costs between $50 and $65 per 750ml bottle in the USA in 2024. Don Julio has a number of special releases costing $130 to $175 per bottle. Its most expensive bottle (Don Julio Real) can cost up to $1,000.

See the table above for the average price in the US of each Don Julio tequila.

Further Questions About Don Julio

Who owns Don Julio tequila?

Don Julio tequila is owned by Diageo of the UK. Diageo first bought into Don Julio in 2001 and took full control from Cuervo Group in 2014.

Does Don Julio tequila have additives?

Yes Don Julio tequila has additives. Additives are used more extensively in aged tequilas to add sweetness, smoothness and color. Additives include caramel coloring, glycerine, sweetener and oak extract.

Where is Don Julio tequila made?

Don Julio tequila is made at NOM-1609 at Diageo Mexico’s distillery in the town of Atotoncilco El Alto, Jalisco, Mexico.

What Don Julio tequila is the best?

Don Julio Real is the best Don Julio tequila. Real is the highest rated, the most expensive (up to $1,000 per bottle), and the longest aged tequila (5 years) in the Don Julio lineup.

What type of tequila is Don Julio?

Don Julio tequila is made from 100% agave. The tequila is made using traditional methods but with prominent use of additives in many of its tequilas. Don Julio makes blanco, reposado, joven and añejo tequilas, including a cristalino. They also issue a range of special releases with different aging methods.

Does Don Julio tequila go off?

An unopened bottle of Don Julio tequila will never go off, provided it is stored away from direct sunlight and high temperatures. Once opened Don Julio should be drunk within a couple of years.

Is Don Julio tequila gluten free?

Yes, Don Julio tequila is gluten free. Like all tequilas (including mixtos) Don Julio contains no gluten.

Is Don Julio real tequila?

Yes, Don Julio is real tequila made from 100% agave. However, some of thier releases rely on additives so many purists would not view Don Julio as a “true tequila”.

Is Don Julio tequila Kosher?

Yes, most Don Julio tequila is approved as Kosher. However Don Julio Primavera and Rosado tequilas are not approved as Kosher.

What is Don Julio tequila ABV?

All Don Julio tequilas sold in the US are 40% ABV (80 proof). In Mexico, Don Julio tequilas are sold at 35% to 38%. Almost all tequila sold in the US is 40% ABV.

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