Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Exploring Inland - Tequila! (3 of 3)

It's kind of hard to describe our last stop in the town of Tequila without smiling.  Suffice to say, after spending two days and nights in Tequila, our appreciation for this Mexican liquor has increased.

We had a special playbook with recommendations from new friends on Agave Azul.  Yes, their sailboat is named after the tequila source, also known as blue agave.  We decided to go on a tour at one of the better known tequilas, Herradura, as well as find some boutique distilleries, Miravalle and Los Abuenos.

No, the town was not full of Cabo style bars, with happy hours and pitchers of margaritas to consume.
Yes, there were strange looking "tequila" buses, some resembling large tequila barrels, transporting a tourists around to the distilleries.  It was surprisingly quiet little Mexican village, with much of the distilleries hidden from view.  Tequila is also designated a Pueblo Magica, (magical town) which includes the government provides additional funding to help preserve the uniqueness of this town.
As we walked through the town, we were approached several times asking whether we needed a tour guide.  With our own car, and some determination, we were able to buzz around ourselves, and discover several of the roads less traveled.

After spending most of the day with a wonderful tour of the Herradura site as well as finding Miravalle (photos belows) we attacked a roadside pollo asada stand, and devoured 2 chickens with 20 tortillas, coleslaw and beans.  Then we returned back in town in search of Los Abuelos, the final stop in our itinerary.  Unfortunately we found the distillery, museum and store had closed 45 minutes earlier.  We had really wanted to admire and purchase some of this artisan tequila, stone crushed and packaged in handmade bottles with custom ceramic corks.  After feeling sorry for ourselves in a nearby tienda, Nancy thought we might as well ask.... So back we went.
As we approached the closed gates, the woman working in the tienda was just exiting on her way home. She graciously opened up the gate, turned on the lights in the store, and patiently waited for us as we admired all the beautiful things to buy.  She even opened up the tequila tasting area, so that Danny and Rob could have try before buying.

We all left with beautiful packaged bags of goodies, including some of their renowned tequila.

The intrepid travelers make a right turn to Tequila heaven

We were the only guests in this pretty hotel, Casa Dulce Maria
It was a couple blocks from the main square, quiet and nice.  
Rob with the mascot raven from Jose Cuervo
Jose Cuervo is expanding their presence in Tequila...the grounds included beautiful courtyards, museums, exclusive  gift shops and tasting rooms.  It reminded us of a mega winery such as Robert Mondavi in Napa Valley
Our first stop was to Herradura, located about 15 minutes from town.  There we enjoyed a very thorough and interesting tour of the complete lifecycle of tequila, Herradura style.

These are harvested Pinas from the agave azul plants.  Each can weigh from 20-50 lbs.
To get to the Pina, this man, called a Jimador, uses a crude hatchet like tool to chop the tops from the agave azul plant.
Those are sandals, not steel toed boots.
Mounds of Pinas waiting to go into the ovens.
This man was showing the traditional mule carrying tequila in oak barrels.

Rob thought it was too early for a sip of tequila, but this was a great photo to take anyway.

After baking in the ovens for 26 hours, the pinas are ready to be crushed

Juices from the crushed pinas are on their way to the fermentation area

60,000 liter tanks ferment the solution to 5% alcohol 
A bank of distillers remove dangerous byproducts and yield "ordinario" that is then diluted to make white tequila.

Herradura Tequila tasting line-up.
The premium tequila, boxed, is for sale at Puerto Vallarta airport this week for $200 USD.

Miravalle Distillery 

We hunted down a boutique tequila distillery, Miravalle.
After being let into the chain link fence by armed  guards, we finally found the "tasting room", which was the  guard shack.  This friendly man gave very generous pours of Miravalle's Reposado tequila.
In return, we purchased many bottles of the good and economical tequila.
See that Danny is indicating "un poquito" to the guard. 
Rob and Danny in the Agave Azul Fields on the road to Miravalle
Los Arbuelos - fifth generation artisan tequila
If you see it, buy it!
Enjoying our last get together in the town of Tequila at Casa Sauza
Say Cheese!,  I mean, Tequila.
Oh yes, there was a pretty town church

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