El TesoroTequila

Not much has changed at La Alteña Distillery over the years. Following Don Felipe Camarena’s orders, El Tesoro Tequilas are made exactly as they were when the distillery opened in 1937. Don Felipe’s grandson, Carlos Camarena, carries on the family traditions:

In Spanish, El Tesoro means "the treasure." To Don Felipe Camarena, it meant helping people to discover the true tequila experience. And while the landscape has changed a bit in the last 60 years, his family's commitment to bringing you the treasure of El Tesoro de Don Felipe has not.

La Alteña’s own estate-grown agave plants are still cooked the old-fashioned way, in large brick and stone ovens called hornos. The hearts of the agave, piñas, are still crushed using a heavy stone wheel called a tahona. Today a tractor pulls the wheel, instead of a mule. El Tesoro is still double-distilled to 80 proof, without any additional water or sugar for a truly authentic tequila flavour. Many of the employees at La Alteña are third and fourth generation relatives of the people who helped Don Felipe create El Tesoro more than 65 years ago. El Tesoro is still made with 100% Agave.

About the Agave

The mountains on the Camarena estate in Jalisco, Mexico yield the best blue agaves in the world. Hand-picked at the peak of ripeness, these agaves have twice the amount of sugar than the typical agave plant, yielding a better tasting tequila.

Tequila has a history and character all its own. It's not made from a fruit, grain or a cactus, but from the stem of the flowering Agave plant, a relative of the lily.

There are 136 species of Agave in Mexico. In 1836, a German botanist named Franz Weber identified one particular species of Agave as the plant of choice for making superb tequila. It was named The Blue Weber Agave in his honour, and is now the only legitimate Agave plant that can be used for tequila production, by law.

The Blue Weber Agave plant grows only in a small region of Mexico called Jalisco. Each plant grows 5 to 8 feet tall and 8 to 12 feet wide, and takes 8 to 12 years to reach full maturity.

When it's ready to be harvested, the Blue Agave's long spiked leaves are cut off and only the stem is used, which looks like a pineapple. There is no other use for Blue Agave except to make tequila.

There are two basic types of tequila available on the market:

Mixtos— Tequilas called “Mixtos” contain Agave, but are a blend of sugar and mixed spirits. You won’t see "Mixto" on the label, but you also won’t see “100% Blue Agave.” Mixtos are the most common tequilas on the market, and frankly, they’re often responsible for this spirit’s sometimes dubious reputation, which is due to the impurities found in these types of tequila.

100% Agave— The best tequilas are produced from the juice of the Blue Weber Agave plant, and nothing else is added to change the taste, colour or aroma. El Tesoro de Don Felipe is created by using only 100% Blue Agave in a time-honoured, handcrafted process that dates back to the early 1900s.


Don Felipe Camarena was born into a family that had distilled tequila since back in the early 1800s. The family’s original distillery was destroyed and abandoned during the Mexican Revolution.

Don Felipe began his career by growing and selling agave plants to other distillers. But since tequila making was in his blood, he started distilling his own tequila, selecting only the ripest plants and using equipment from his family’s original distillery.

In 1937, Don Felipe opened La Alteña Distillery in a mountainous region of Jalisco, Mexico, known for producing the best blue agave. He located the distillery near springs so that the boilers used to heat the ovens that cook the agave would have a constant source of fuel. His passion for doing things just right inspired his family to continue handcrafting El Tesoro so it could be enjoyed by future generations, too.

Don Felipe passed the business to his son, Felipe J. Camarena Orozco, who in turn passed it on to his daughters, Lilianna and Gabriela, and to his son, Carlos, who today, as Master Distiller, maintains the standards of excellence set down by his grandfather, Don Felipe.

La Alteña Distillery reached a proud milestone on July 7, 2007 — 70 years of handcraftingfine tequilas.

Master Distiller Carlos Camarena hosted a huge fiesta for 500 friends and family. The guests celebrated with El Tesoro Aniversario, a commemorative tequila, aged for 7 years, lovingly created by Carlos to honour his grandfather, Don Felipe, who built La Alteña in the mountains of Jalisco, Mexico back in 1937.


Step One: the Harvest
On the Camarena estate, where all of the agaves used to make El Tesoro are grown, the perfectly ripe plants are hand-picked by a jimador. The jimador separates the piña - the large, juicy core - of the blue agave from the rest of the plant, taking time to carve out the bitter part of the agave stem by hand. This ensures that only the sweetest flesh of the plant will be. Many other tequila producers use an automated system that processes the entire stem.
Step Two: Cutting the Piñas
Back at La Alteña, the El Tesoro distillery, workers cut the piñas into quarters with a special axe.
Step Three: Baking the Piñas
The piña quarters are baked for 36 hours and cooled for another 36 hours in huge brick and stone steam ovens called hornos. This process fully converts all of the starch into sugar. While other distilleries cook the agaves for just 6 hours in autoclaves, devices that bring substances above their boiling point using superheated steam under pressure, El Tesoro uses the traditional, unhurried method for superior flavour.
Step Four: Crushing the Piñas
La Alteña uses another traditional method to release the juices, or honeys, of the cooked blue agaves. An historic, one-ton stone wheel called a tahona crushes the piñas, extracting their juices. There are faster ways to make tequila, but none better.
Step Five: Fermentation
Natural fermentation usually takes from seven to ten days. During fermentation, the agave juice boils and bubbles, and a foamy crust of bubbles and particles forms on the surface of the juice, now called "fermented must", or mosto. After all of the sugar has been converted to alcohol, the reaction ceases and the mosto is emptied into a holding tank to await the first distillation.
Step Six: Distillation
El Tesoro Tequila is first distilled with the agave fibres, which, like the use of copper kettles, is a traditional process that allows the tequila to retain more of its flavour. During the first 12 hours, the liquid is run off to remove any trace of wax or dust from the original plant. The first distillation run creates a liquid alcohol called ordinario. The second run turns the ordinario into tequila. When the tequila leaves the still after the final run, it is as clear (blanco) as water. El Tesoro is the only 100% blue agave tequila double distilled at 80 proof and bottled without any additional water to preserve the tequila's real flavour. Other tequila makers distil to a high proof, then dilute the tequila with water to bring it down to 80 proof.
Step Seven: Ageing and Bottling
Spicy, peppery El Tesoro Platinum is bottled immediately, while the other expressions are aged in oak barrels to add varying degrees of sweetness. El Tesoro Reposado is aged between 8 and 11 months to bring in a hint of sweetness from the wood, without overpowering the spicy agave flavour. El Tesoro Añejo is aged for 2 to 3 years for an even sweeter, aromatic spirit that's best enjoyed in a small brandy snifter. And El Tesoro Paradiso is aged for up to 5 years, for a rare and remarkably smooth tequila experience.

Character and Style of El Tesoro

  • White Pepper White Pepper
  • Grass Grass
  • Apple Apple

The Range

Crystal clear and exceptionally smooth. Only the sweetest part of the Agave plant goes into El Tesoro Platinum, which makes it perfect for mixing. El Tesoro Platinum is bottled within 24 hours of distillation to capture the freshest Agave flavours.
Mellow and rich, with subtle wood tones. Reposado ("rested") tequila, by law, requires aging for two months. El Tesoro Reposado is exceptionally well rested. It's aged for eight to 11 months in oak barrels.
Remarkably full and balanced flavour, described by many connoisseurs as one of the world's finest sipping tequilas. Mexican law requires Añejo ("year") tequila to age for at least one year. El Tesoro Añejo is aged two to three years in oak barrels.
Deliciously smooth. Created by Don Felipe Camarena and Alain Royer of A. de Fussigny Cognac, this unique, handcrafted blend of 100% blue agave tequilas takes on a remarkable elegance from its distinct, Cognac-barrel aging process.


  • 2005 - Distiller of the Year: San Francisco World Spirits Competition

El Tesoro Platinum

  • 2007 Los Angeles International Wine & Spirits Competition Gold
  • San Francisco World Spirits Competition 2005: Double Gold
  • San Francisco World Spirits Competition 2004: Silver
  • San Francisco World Spirits Competition 2003: Silver

El Tesoro Reposado

  • 2007 Los Angeles International Wine & Spirits Competition "Best Tequila of the Competition"
  • San Francisco World Spirits Competition 2007: Gold
  • San Francisco World Spirits Competition 2005: Double Gold
  • San Francisco World Spirits Competition 2004: Best of Show

El Tesoro Añejo

  • 2007 Los Angeles International Wine & Spirits Competition Gold
  • San Francisco World Spirits Competition 2007: Gold
  • San Francisco World Spirits Competition 2005: Double Gold
  • San Francisco World Spirits Competition 2004: Double Gold
  • San Francisco World Spirits Competition 2003: Gold

El Tesoro Paradiso

  • San Francisco World Spirits Competition 2007: Double Gold
  • San Francisco World Spirits Competition 2005: Double Gold
  • San Francisco World Spirits Competition 2004: Silver
  • El Tesoro
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