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6275 kms: Amatitlan and Guadalajara - Land of the Blue Agave

Written on: Thursday March 13th, 2008

A journal entry from: North America in our Camper Van!

Thursday the 13th we hit the road early, and based on a recommendation from Mark and Nancy were headed for a small town called Amatitan, in the heart of the Tequila producing region of Mexico, just west of Guadalajara. Surrounded by blue agave cactus crops as far as the eye could see, we stopped in at the Hacienda San Jose del Refugio, Casa de Tequila Herradura. We signed up for a tour to see how they make tequila today, visit a traditional distillery and best of all sample some tequila!

We learned some very interesting things about Tequila:

- Very stringent Mexican government guidelines must be followed for a beverage to be called ?tequila?. Tequilas must age for at least 14-21 days, it must be made from 100 percent natural ingredients, and be at least 38% alcohol. Most importantly, it must be made from blue agave grown and harvested only in specific Mexican states.

- The ripe blue agave plants take eight to ten years to mature.

- The heart of the plant, called the ?pineapple? can weigh from 40 to 80 lbs and is cut up for roasting to turn the starches into sugar.

- The pineapples are shredded and pressed to squeeze out the juice, yeast is added and then after fermentation the liquid is double distilled.

- This becomes your basic tequila blanco (silver tequila). Oro (Gold), Reposado (rested) Anejo tequila are aged in oak barrels.

The old fashion distillery (from the late 1800?s) has been preserved as somewhat of a museum and it was very interesting. After roasted the agave plants, the plant was mashed in a large pit with a giant round stone pulled by a mule and pushed by several men. Then, to introduce yeast and start the fermentation process, the workers were encouraged to bathe in the juice?


From Annette on Mar 29th, 2008

Thanks for the very informative piece on tequila! I'm assuming that over the years they've cut out the worker bathing part of the process...

From Sloan on Mar 29th, 2008

Oh my God are you serious that they bathed to start the fermentation process!?!? The assumption is that they are covered in bacteria...?? Wow...and it tastes good eh..? What`s the deal with the worm?