It’s a brand new series! You might have seen our “Monday Motivation” pictures on social media. We’ve decided to go more in-depth when we find cool things that we think should be added to your Bucket List. To kick off the series, we’re going to tequila distilleries near Guadalajara, Mexico!
Before we tell you about the incredible distilleries, tastings, tours, and tequila train (yes, it is exists and we’ll get to that momentarily) it’s important to know the history of this iconic Latin American beverage.
How Tequila is Made
Step 1: Grow Blue Agave
Tequila is made from the blue agave plant. It looks a bit like aloe vera and that isn’t surprising, considering it’s also a type of succulent. The blue agave fields, where plants are harvested to make tequila, are located mainly around the town of, well, Tequila! It’s northwest of Guadalajara and is just one of the many stops along the Tequila Trail.
Step 2: Make sure the plant is grown in the Tequila region
The first step in making tequila: your blue agave MUST come from this region of Mexico. This is known as “destination of origin” and is the same reason why anything labeled “champagne” must come from France and Scotch whiskey must come from Scotland. And it must use blue agave specifically, not just any kind of agave as other liquors might.
Quick side note: the region between the city of Guadalajara and the town of Tequila is so culturally important, it was designated a UNESCO historic site. Agave for tequila has been harvested here since the 16th century, and before that, it was used by the indigenous people to make pulque, a fermented type of liquor often made from fruit, for at least 2,000 years.
Step 3: Roll Up Your Sleeves
The entire process of making tequila from planting to harvesting is still done by hand. To get started, workers remove the sharp leaves of the plant until only the core remains. These cores are known as “piñas” for their resemblance to pineapples. The piñas are collected and baked in ovens to break them down. After baking, the piñas are mashed so the nectar can be extracted. This juice is then distilled and bottled, which produces silver tequila, or it’s aged in barrels, which produces a smoother, amber-colored brew.
Tequila by land or by train
There’s two ways you can immerse yourself in tequila culture and history. Either rent a car in Guadalajara and work your way northwest, or take the Tequila Express.
The Tequila Express
The train comes with different seating options from basic seats, club car access, to first class. Onboard, guests will be get a chance to sample different tequilas, take in the beauty of the sprawling blue agave fields, enjoy live mariachi music, and more! The Tequila Express operates Friday – Sunday and occasionally Thursdays. Make sure you have an entire day free – this tour is an all-day excursion.
Tequila Distilleries Near Guadalajara
Guadalajara is absolutely bursting with culture and it just happens to be the place where the Tequila Trail disembarks. Whether you’re driving or taking the train, here are a few distilleries to check out on the trail:
This tequila manufacturer needs no introduction. It’s the oldest distillery in Latin America, operating since 1795, and its brews have become world renown as the tequila for iconic drinks like Margaritas and Tequila Sunrises.
Founded in 1873, several options for tours are available depending on the length of the visit and what guests wish to do. You can have a basic tasting and walking tour or you can do something more immersive like plant your own agave, sample directly from barrels, enjoy a barbecue, or partake of a 3-course meal.
If you’re looking to have an extended stay in Tequila country, La Corfradia has a guest house and offers a night tour that includes a dinner and a visit to their museum.
Volcanic spring water is incorporated into the distilling process for a crisp, clean taste. Additionally, American white oak and bourbon barrels are used to create a smooth, mature finish.
If you opt for the Tequila Express, this is the final stop before the return to Guadalajara. Walk-up tours are also available Tuesday – Sunday and run every hour on the hour. If you’re looking to get up close and personal with the tequila making process, this stop is a must.
Care to hop aboard the Tequila Express? What about a leisurely drive along the Tequila Trail? Your Jaya agent can create a fully customized trip so you can visit every tequila distillery you desire. Contact us today for your free quote!