Tequila — “Regalo de México para el Mundo!”
One of the many benefits of living in the Lake Chapala area is the proximity of so many interesting things to do nearby. One such example is the magical town of Tequila, the epicenter of the wonderful beverage that originated in the State of Jalisco.
It’s only about a 90-minute drive from Ajijic, so it makes a great day trip, or spend a couple of days, and become truly immersed in all things Tequila.
Getting there can be part of the fun, should you decide to take the Tequila Express train from Guadalajara … or both Jose Cuervo and Herradura offer train service & tours to the town of Tequila. Information on these options can all be found online through Trip Advisor or simply going to the individual websites. The Herradura train gets high marks.
In the foothills of the Tequila Volcano, the outskirts of town are dotted with fields of blue agave, the main ingredient of Tequila.
Several distilleries and haciendas allow visitors to observe the production process; and the town boasts two museums — The National Tequila Museum, and the Los Abuelos Museum–both featuring exhibits on the history of the beverage.
Some people book onto these organized tours, while others prefer to go on their own. If you decide to go on your own, I recommend an overnight. Take the short drive, then leave your car at the hotel so you don’t have to worry about all the wonderful Tequila you’ll be tasting.
Matices Hotel de Barricas
We enjoyed a wonderful stay at this charming hotel … the world’s only hotel in a Tequila distillery (La Cofradia), where guests can spend their nights in giant Tequila “barrel” rooms, all set in a field of Blue Weber Agave plants, and just a few minutes’ drive from downtown.
Besides touring the distillery itself, guests can also take bike tours into town, go horseback riding into agave fields, and enjoy lessons on how to ferment, distill, or create Tequila.
The pet-friendly Matices Hotel also has a beautiful restaurant–La Taverna de Cofrade, which is 15-feet underground, and accessed through the aging tavern, while an on-site museum allows visitors to delve even deeper into Tequila’s history.
Hotel Solar de las Animas
If you prefer to stay in the heart of things, just off the main square in Tequila is the Hotel Solar de las Animas, a very upscale property offering 93 rooms in the typical Mexican architecture of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Its design is based on a Creole colonial house in which each guest will enjoy an authentic and personalized experience, where comfort and the latest in new technologies merge with the context of a town with more than 200 years of history and traditions.
Tours of many different Tequila houses are available–many to which one can walk from the town square. Others, like the Herradura estate are located in nearby towns.
Tours usually include a brief history of the drink, how the agave plants are grown and harvested, and how the Tequila making process occurs. Of course, there are plenty of chances to sample and decide which are your favorites.
Tequila comes in three basic varieties:
If you can arrange a tour of the Fortaleza distillery, I highly recommend it. The story behind this most legendary distillery is quite interesting, and involves a romantic saga of the Sauza family–one of the original Tequila families, producing some of the finest Tequila around.
Guillermo Ericsson Sauza is a 5th-generation Tequila producer. His brand is called Los Abuelos (outside of Mexico it is called, Fortaleza).
In the 1970’s, when Sauza was sold, Don Francisco Javier Sauza kept a little land on the hillside at the end of Tequila town, on which he built a distillery to give back to the town the Tequila he knew from childhood.
Some 30 years later, Guillermo restored the distillery and kept the tradition alive … Tequila made the old way. Los Abuelos — The Grandfathers.
If you’re lucky enough to get a tour of the Cuervo estate in the heart of town, you’ll be in for a treat. It reminded us of the opulence of some of the Italian palaces we’ve toured.
The State of Jalisco is the birthplace of Tequila and Mariachi … more on that in another piece … and when you put the two together, it’s a magical combination.