La Centinela Distillery

Posted in Uncategorized on March 31, 2008 by Priest

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You know you have entered the city limits of Arandas when you approach this monument in the middle of main road leading to the town.  In March 2007, this monument was a few months old.  If you plan to visit the Centinela distillery, this monument is your cue to take a left at the roundabout.  Drive about 2 miles and you will see the distillery on your left.  The monument reads El Mas Cabrito De Los Tequilas in Spanish and translates to The Most Baby Goat of Tequilas in English.  I’m lost in translation but I’m sure baby goats are beloved and presitgious animals in Mexico, hence baby goats are kings of the pasture.  Centinela makes Cabrito Tequila and according to the some locals, is one of the best selling tequilas in Mexico. centinelabus.jpg

2008 AGAVE SPIRITS CHALLENGE

Posted in Uncategorized on March 30, 2008 by Priest

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Judges representing three countries gave their take on which Tequilas were worthy of being named the best in their class. Based on aroma, smoothness, taste and other factors, the judges sampled each of the entries and collectively came up with this top list (slide show below). Considering this was the first year this event was held, it seemed to be a success. I’m not too familiar with some of the Tequilas sampled at this competition, but hopefully next year, the event will attract more tequila brands and and maybe even award best Tequilas based on region or geography. I would like to see which is the best Tequila in Arandas and every other major agave producing region in Mexico. I’ll contact the organizers and offer my suggestions … I’ll let you know what their response is.

If you want more info on the competition, link to www.agave.net

 

Make your own Tequila

Posted in Uncategorized on March 29, 2008 by Priest

The process of making Tequila is not difficult. The difficulty is in finding mature Blue Webber Agaves to make the Tequila. If you are curious on the specifics of making Tequila, check out this yahoo group http://groups.yahoo.com/group/distillers for all sorts of information on how to make distilled spirits, including Tequila. You don’t need a degree in Chemistry to make beer, wine, or distilled spirits. All you need is the passion and a little bit of determination. The bigger the passion, the more successful you are going to be. I’m a member of this yahoo group.

Another yahoo group I belong to is the Austin_Zealot This is a local homebrew group in Austin, Texas.

I’ve made both beer and Blanco Tequila. Making beer is a lot more difficult and time consuming.

If you are lucky enough to get access to Blue Webber Agaves and have a secret hidden dungeon at home, you too can become a Tequilier. For more information on distilling check out www.homedistller.org

Don’t worry, they have lax public intoxication laws in Tequila

Posted in Uncategorized on March 29, 2008 by Priest

tequilacopblog1.jpgAfter touring the Sauza and Jose Cuervo distilleries in one day, many tourists will either be tired or drunk, in some cases both. As long as there is a designated driver, hopefully the tour bus driver, law enforcement officers in Jalisco are usually friendly and won’t harass you. This judicial police officer even volunteered to pose for a picture … what a nice guy, though he should have smiled and not look so serious. I offered to buy the police sign as a nice souvenir but the officer thought I was only kidding … which I wasn’t but I did not want to press my luck. These guys are proud of their town. Then again, if I was born in the city of Jack Daniels or the sprawling town of Budweiser, I too would be so proud of my home town.  I wonder if his rifle was loaded?

Jose Cuervo Distillery Tour: Part I

Posted in Uncategorized on March 16, 2008 by Priest

Can you believe the world’s most renowned Tequila, Jose Cuervo, is produced in a small, dusty town named Tequila. That’s right, 45 miles east of Guadalajara is a colonial town that is home to Jose Cuervo. I arrived to Tequila by charter bus from Guadalajara. The bus stops at major hotels in Guadalajara, picks up passengers and then makes it’s daily voyage to the Jose Cuervo Distillery. The bus departs Guadalajara at 10 a.m. and takes about one hour to get to the distillery.

The tour begins at one of Jose Cuervo’s vast Agave fields. The Jimador gives a demonstration on how the Agave is uprooted and the leaves are cut off to expose the pina. For centuries, Jimadores have used the coa (hoe) and Machete when harvesting the pinas.

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After departing the Agave fields, we went to downtown Tequila for the second part of the tour. The yellow building on the right is the Jose Cuervo distillery. Tourists are all gathered in a dark hallway and are seated to watch a 20 minute film on the history of Tequila (the drink, not the town) and also the contributions of the Jose Cuervo distillery to the Tequila industry. .

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After the pinas are harvested and transported to the distillery, they are steamed/baked for up to 36 hours in ovens the size of small rooms. Pictured below are distillery workers packing the pinas in the ovens.
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After coming out of the ovens, the baked pinas are crushed and placed on huge stainless steel containers for the fermentation process where yeast is added and the sugars of the pinas are converted into alcohol (this step not shown). The fermented batch is then filtered, and the liquid residue is transfered to copper stills (pictured below) and the distillation process begins.  Distillation is a simple process of separating compounds in a mixture.  Basically, by heating the liquid residue, alcohol evaporates first leaving behind water and the rest of the residue.  As the alcohol evaporates, it is captured on a second container.  Here the vapor is allowed to be cooled and condenses back into liquid form.  The alcohol content is now 25%.   The second container is then heated and the process begins all over again.  The batch becomes more purer and after the 2nd distillation is completed, the alcohol content is now at 55%.  When this vapor is captured and condenses back into a liquid, it is now officially Tequila!

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Jose Cuervo DistilleryTour: Part II

Posted in Uncategorized with tags on March 15, 2008 by Priest

After the Agave pinas are baked, crushed, fermented and then distilled twice, the tequila is now ready for its final stage – aging. While there are hundreds of brands of tequilas, there are only three main types:

1. Blanco (white or silver)

2. Reposado (rested)

3. Anejo (aged)

Blanco tequilas can be consumed directly from the stills after the distillation process or are temporarily stored in large stainless steels vats. Blancos get thier name from the color of the Tequila. In it’s raw and pure form, Tequila is transparent and colorless. In the U.S. many Tequila brands such as Don Patron Silver are very popular. Although Blancos can be stored in stainless steel vats for a long, long time they are not considered aged unless it is stored in wood barrels or vats.cuervobarrels.jpgBlanco Tequila can be called Reposado if it is stored in wooden barrels for at least 3 months. During the course of 3 months what used to be a colorless Tequila is slowly absorbing elements from the insides of the barrel. The absorbtion of elements from the barrel start giving the Tequila a different flavor from more robust to spicy and also giving the Tequila a yellowish color. Some barrels are charred and the Tequila acquires a smoky, full flavor. American and French Oak are the most popular types of wood used to make barrels.Anejos are stored for at least one year and up to 3 years. These type of Tequilas are very high end and are highly sought after by connosiuers with sophisticated palates. Because of the aging, Anejos acquire rich, strong, flavors like Cognacs and fine whiskeys. Reposados and Anejos are considered sipping liquors and are not meant to be taken as shots. The picture on the left was taken at the distillery’s cellar. As you can see there is low lighting and the temperature is cool year round. The barrels are for a Tequila Anejo reserve. Call me unsophisticated but I prefer Blancos and Reposados. I appreciate the more distinctive Agave taste found in Tequilas that are not aged.

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After the distillery tour, we head across the street for the Tequila sampling. We sampled the Silver, Reposado, and Anejos from the Cuervo Distillery. I’m not a big fan of Jose Cuervo, but the tour itself was very comprehensive and enjoyable. The cool thing about this tour is the distillery’s proximity to the town’s central plaza. Walk a few hundred feet to the right and you can visit the Tequila Museum. The picture to the right shows the courtyard of the hacienda. It’s a small, pretty cool museum. I also took these pictures at the museum. On the bottom left picture is an antiquated distillation system. On the bottom right is a Tahona. Mules or horses would pull the Tahona in a circular pattern, crushing the baked ptahona.jpginas in the pit. Modern industrialization has made mules obsolete.olddistillation.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

If you walk a few hundred feet to the left, you can also visit the Sauza Tequila Museum. They don’t allow photographs in this museum … come on hombre, they think it’s the Louvre? There is enough time after the tour to not only go to both of these museums, but also to enjoy an agave paleta (Mexican popsicles) at the central plaza and do a little shopping at the market place. For those of you who are Catholic and feel guilty for doing nothing but drinking Tequila for the past few days, visit the church and repent for your sins.

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2nd Best Tour: The Tequila Express

Posted in Uncategorized on March 13, 2008 by Priest

Mariachi music and Tequila are a potent combination. This combination is experienced first hand when you ride on the Tequila Express. If you ever wanted to get the feel for Mexican customs and culture all in one trip, then this is the tour for you. The Tequila Express is an all day tour that begins at the train station in Guadalajara. Once aboard, the decadence begins. As the train begins the one-and-a-half hour journey to the city of Amatitan, home to the famous Herradura Tequila distillery, Mariachis greet you with their trumpets and violins, severs dispense appetizers and of course, all the beer/tequila you desire.

The train ride itself was very cool.  At first, the scenery is of a busy, thriving city, then of corn fields, and then the grandest of them all – endless rows of agaves.   The train ride ends at Amatitan and your tour of the Herradura Distillery begins. Like other tours, all the production stages of Tequila are discussed and displayed. After the tour, folkorico dancers, ropers and even more Mariachis entertain you for hours. The Mexican buffet was awesome. The authentic food was to die for. I forgot my batteries for my new video recorder at the hotel, but I did find this video on You Tube that pretty much highlights the tour. Press here to check out this video

Writers Warning: I strongly feel that the objective of this train tour was for the guides/servers to get you as inebriated as possible. Personally, I was trying to stay sober to take notes and get great pictures. But, as you can see, I didn’t succeed. I blame not knowing how to use my new camera as the reason why I don’t have many pictures to share with you, but in reality, I was pretty much gone by 12 noon.