Headed to the Magical Town of Tequila? It’s a very informational and fascinating town especially if you visit one of the many tequila factories. I myself learned lots on a Jose Cuervo Factory Tour!
What comes to mind when I say “tequila”? Or actually, what type of face do you make when someone says “tequila”? I bet you’re doing it right now! If your reactions are not of beauty and fascination, you have some learning to do about Tequila. Tequila is more than a Jose Cuervo that burns your throat, it’s a beautiful town and landscape in Mexico.
I don’t know what it was like back in the day, but apparently the drink has been gaining popularity (45% consumption increase in past 5 years) which is no wonder why now all the rappers “got patron in they cup”… People usually have a love/hate relationship with tequila but recently, its origin have been gaining appreciation. Tequila, Jalisco is the birthplace of the most representative beverage in Mexico is the proud producer of the worldwide spirit that bears its name. ABC, MSNBC, and USA Today all ran an article about this small town in Jalisco, Mexico – just outside Guadalajara. Living in Puerto Vallarta, Tequila was only about 4 hours away from me, so Eddy and I decided to rent a car and go see what the hype was about.
This Magic Town sits against the Tequila Volcano which overlooks the valley encompassed by endless landscape of perfectly lined of blue agave plants. Built around Tequila’s main square of beautiful fountains and fresh flowers are the distilleries of popular producers such as Sauza and Jose Cuervo. Despite being the “Disneyland” version, Eddy and I decided to tour the Jose Cuervo factory. The tour slots for the next 2 hours were full so we were scheduled for late afternoon and in the mean time decided to stroll around the zocalo.
Starting off with a visit to the 17th Century stone Santiago Apostol Church we then hit all the ‘highlights’ listed on the map I picked up from the Tourist Info Kisok. The town was cute, however I think the true highlight was eating a juicy Torta Ahogadas (pork sandwiches drowned in a spicy red sauce – famous to the Guadalajara region) and sipping on nothing other than some tequila.
When it came time for us to head over to Mundo Cuervo, we were ready! Let me start by saying that what many people do not know is that tequila is not something that should be taken as a shot; rather it should be treated as a fine wine, acknowledging the various aromas and savoring ever nuance in flavor. Appreciating the smells and tastes of the actual liquid is one thing, but a true appreciation of Tequila comes from seeing the process of its creation from start to finish. In a small VIP group, we visited fertile agave fields, wandered through picturesque courtyards of the hacienda and toured the actual production factory. With the largest distillery in Latin America, the Cuervo brand started distilling a private tequila called ‘Reserva de la Familia’, reserved only for the Cuervo family. As time went by, they decided to share a very limited amount which is exclusively made in Mundo Cuervo, housing only barrels of Reserva during a specific season. I was able to try a very small sample of this limited edition tequila, and not exaggerating, it was one of the best Tequila Anejo’s I had ever tasted. No joke.
At the end of the tour, we learned how to distinguish quality tequila – much like you can distinguish a fine wine. One way is to swivel the tequila around in a glass and notice if any drops stick and form along the glass, the more droplets that adhere to the glass, the better the tequila. The other way, which I found most fascinating, is that Tequila has three very distinct scents depending on which part you smell. Starting at the bottom portion of your glass, this is the scent where you appreciate the key ingredient, the aged agave plant, distinguished by its pungent scent of alcohol. Moving up to the middle portion, it is differentiated by a sweet fruity floral smell, much less harsh than the fragrance at the bottom. Reaching the top one-third portion of your glass, the aroma changes from a nice spring day to a warm cozy fire, emitting a rich wood smell due to the aging process in the barrels. Detecting and savoring each scent and learning about the long process and stages it makes to produce tequila, I developed a strong appreciation and understanding of the intricate process.
After a 3 hour tour around the facilities and numerous taste testing and margaritas (complements of the tour), I headed to the National Tequila Museum where, through its collections, I gained an even deeper understanding regarding the cultural values of the tequila region, which I learned was recently declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
Reflecting on our day trip, I learned more about Tequila then I ever thought imaginable, both the drink and the town. Both are unique and representative of the country in which they reside. Having only spent a day in Tequila, there’s still more to discover. The town has many other “tourist friendly” facilities and tours, including the infamous Tequila Express train ride and the giant tequila bottle-bus city tour – which are on my list next time!