Q&A With Casa Noble Tequila Founder Jose 'Pepe' Hermosillo
Skip to main content

Join our newsletter for a shot of tequila news and great deals sent right to your email!


More to Enjoy

  • Whiskey Raiders
  • Rum Raiders
  • Gin Raiders

Talking With Tequila Royalty: A Q&A With Casa Noble Founder Jose ‘Pepe’ Hermosillo

Casa Noble

(Photo: Casa Noble)

Decades before Casamigos or Don Julio popularized the “premiumization” of tequila, Casa Noble launched in 1997 to acclaim from agave spirits lovers. Amidst the shuffle of mixto tequilas and salt-and-lime college shots, Casa Noble stood out as a high-quality sipping spirit — arguably, one of the first of its kind in the US.

Since then, the brand has sailed through a fast-shifting industry, undergoing a bottle redesign, changing distilleries, organic certification and the arrival and departure of rock-and-rollin’ investor Carlos Santana. Today, Casa Noble can be found nationwide offering expressions that range from $35 to upwards of $1,000.

We sat down with Founder and Master Tequilero Jose “Pepe” Hermosillo to learn the full story. During our conversation, Pepe took us through his family’s centuries-old tequila lineage, the production process behind Casa Noble and a handful of thoughts about the past, present and future of the agave spirits industry.


Tequila Raiders: Your family’s tequila-making lineage dates back centuries, spanning iconic figures like Pedro Sánchez de Tagle and Cenobio Sauza — each recognized as “The Father of Tequila” in their own right. How did that rich history inspire the creation of Casa Noble?

Pepe Hermosillo: My family’s history of making tequila goes back seven generations — as you mention, we had a great historian who was able to track it all the way to the start. On one side, you feel it’s in the blood; as you grow up it’s a constant topic of discussion. 

I truly hope that one of my three kids will carry on our family’s tequila-making tradition into that eighth generation. Tequila-making has been relevant to them throughout their lives as they were around during the very early stages of Casa Noble’s existence. Even if it was just with their opinions or actually in the field harvesting agave with me. I think this gives a sense of pride and connection to the spirit that is very special, a relationship that goes beyond just being a product, but a part of our family.  

TR: There are a few key details that set Casa Noble apart on the market. First, tell us about estate-grown agave; what difference can we taste in the final product?

PH: For decades, we’ve remained committed to using 100% CCOF Certified Organic Blue Weber Agave grown at our estate at the highest altitudes in Jalisco. In this region, the altitude and soil combine to create rich, earthy and herbal aromas with wonderfully sweet citrus and floral notes. The estate-grown agave is 10-12 years old, because, at that point, it has reached full maturity and gives robust mature characteristics and none of the bitter green undertones. These practices allow us to ensure our consumers have a premium experience in every sip they take. 

TR: Aged tequila is all about the right barrel; for your brand, the secret ingredient is French oak. What does the process look like for selecting those barrels one by one?

PH: It is one of the most wonderful experiences. I love going into the forest and personally choosing the trees for Casa Noble’s barrels.

The first time I went, I took one of my daughters and we arrived in Bordeaux by train from Paris to meet our coopers [maker and repairer of casks]. We drove north into the Allier region. The forest smelled so misty and earthy and the beauty of it all was (and still is) incredible. The majesty of these 200 year old trees is simply amazing. Just think, what have they lived through all this time?!

From there, the process is very artisanal but precise; from creating to drying the staves, all the way to the toasting of the barrel itself.

As we select, we are looking for tight pores since we are aging high alcohol spirit (57% Alc. Vol. approx). Our toast is very special with high temperature and high humidity. The trees we use are key as we are looking to marry the aromas of tequila with the aging process. Looking through barrels, we get a lot of spices from some while others provide more floral notes or nuts. Through time and process, we’ve also discovered notes of dried fruits. French Oak just gives you so much while you’re blending and creating, the perfect fit for Casa Noble Reposado, Añejo and Marques.

(Photo: Casa Noble)

TR: Agave spirits have witnessed an enormous shift since Casa Noble‘s founding in 1997. How has the brand transitioned into a world where premium tequila is the new norm?

PH: When I first started there was not as much emphasis on premium tequilas. Tequila was thought of as a “party-only” drink consumed via shots. Over the years, the consumer landscape has had a complete transformation where mainstream tequila is slowing down and premium and luxury tequilas are driving the highest growth.

Consumers have become much more conscious about the quality of tequila and its profile. They have also focused their attention on tequila’s relationship to the environment and demanded a more thoughtfully produced spirit. Casa Noble has always stayed true to its noble pursuit of making the finest sustainably produced tequila in the world, so we haven’t needed to change too much.

However, the Constellation Brands acquisition allowed us to expand our footprint from a distribution and retail standpoint. It also allowed us to scale our innovations with greater speed while experimenting with cask finishes for more complex tequila that caters to consumers’ palates. 

TR: The evolution of premium tequila has coincided with the fast-growing popularity of craft cocktails. How does Casa Noble factor into the cocktail landscape, and, perhaps most importantly, do you have a favorite cocktail to mix up with your spirit?

PH: Since the quality of our tequila stands out, it has allowed us to segway into the craft cocktail movement effortlessly.

We keep cocktails in mind when creating our tequilas, especially our Blanco and Reposado. However, our Añejo and Marques de Casa Noble perhaps taste best when consumed neat, as both have complex flavor profiles that stand out on their own. But I have seen some amazing cocktails done by respecting the spirit.

I don’t drink many cocktails — for me, it is more drinking neat as we do traditionally in Mexico. However, I do enjoy a nice natural margarita with our Reposado. A simple Reposado with soda and bitters is also great and refreshing. Sometimes I’ll venture into other tequila classics, such as the old-fashioned.

TR: From ready-to-drink cocktails to Cristalinos, a handful of hot trends have picked up traction across the tequila category: Where do you see the industry going next?

PH: I am not a particular fan of Cristalinos … why age in these beautiful barrels and obtain a wonderful, elegant, balanced spirit full of character only to strip the color? I know some people argue the reasons, but I’m not convinced, although I could be wrong. From a consumer lens, they are looking for new and interesting products that push the boundaries of innovation. This is where you see Cristalinos living within the category, as something innovative and fun. 

I think ready-to-drink is an interesting category, something to watch as it develops in the high-end market. We are starting to see some nice brands out there already – excited for more to come! 

Read More:

Tequila Mockingbird: Making Sense of the Oft-Debated, Occasionally Hated Cocktail 

From Guillermo Del Toro to Picasso, A Tour Through The Glitziest Artist-Designed Tequila Releases 

From Hidden Freezers to Underground Sex Shops: A Tour Through the World’s Most Secretive Tequila Speakeasies 

Here at Tequila Raiders, we do more than write about current events in tequila. We are the only media property reviewing tequilas and aggregating the scores and reviews of other significant voices in the tequila world in one place. If you’re interested in getting a shot of tequila in your morning email, sign up for our Deal of the Day newsletter

This post may contain affiliate links, so we may earn a small commission when you make a purchase through links on our site. This helps support Tequila Raiders at no additional cost to you.

Filed Under:

Follow Tequila Raiders:

Pedro Wolfe is the managing editor of Tequila Raiders. With several years of experience writing for the New York Daily News and the Foothills Business Daily under his belt, Pedro aims to combine quality reviews and recipes with incisive articles on the cutting edge of the tequila world. Pedro has traveled to the heartland of the spirits industry in Tequila, Mexico, and has conducted interviews with agave spirits veterans throughout Mexico, South Africa and California. Through this diverse approach, Tequila Raiders aims to celebrate not only tequila but the rich tapestry of agave spirits that spans mezcal, raicilla, bacanora, pulque and so much more.