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The Camarena Family has been making tequila since 1937, crafting some of the world’s best tequilas for generations. Where Felipe and his sons have established El Pandillo Distillery is a place where they honour their family’s proud tequila tradition and quality standards while innovating for today. The name of the distillery, El Pandillo was the name of Felipe’s grandfather’s favourite bull and the tahona stone you see was the only surviving piece of what would have been their family’s distillery during the Revolution.
With tequila’s growing popularity, many producers modernize and rush the process to the detriment of crafting great tequila. At G4, Felipe uses traditional stone ovens, cooking the agave for 22 hours. However, most stone ovens only cook from the bottom, creating wasted agave and uneven taste. G4’s ovens cook from top and bottom to bring out the pure agave flavour. In addition to this, when the agave is done, most producers discard this. At G4, they repurpose the remains and turn it into fertilizer, reducing waste.
G4 tequila is distilled using traditional copper stills for the 1st and 2nd distillation. It’s how tequila was traditionally made, and provides a better end result than stainless steel. While it takes a little more work and won’t last quite as long, when it comes to pursuing the highest quality standards, that little bit extra is worth it to Felipe.
If you ever have the opportunity to tour El Pandillo, right outside the ovens, you’ll see this concrete that you may innocently think is stamped concrete. Far from it, this is where they chop the agave with machetes to determine the sex of the plant and remove the “male parts” before going into the oven. Doing this removes bitterness and is a quality step few others dare consider. Look up at the roof, and you’ll see how they harvest rainwater at El Pandillo and use this rainwater in distilling G4 tequila, providing a crisp, pure, complex taste.
From crafting a great blanco tequila, some is put into bourbon barrels to age – creating Reposado, Añejo and Extra Añejo. When they age their tequila, some will stay in for up to twice as long as required for that category. What comes out after aging is a smoothness and additional character from the barrels. Some aficionados have wondered why some of our varieties are lighter in colour. The answer is simple, at G4, nothing is ever add that doesn’t belong in tequila, including caramel colour.