Arandas vs. Tequila: Which Region Has The Best Tequila?

There has been an ongoing contentious debate on which city produces the best tequila. 45 minutes west of Guadalajara, tequila giants Jose Cuervo and Sauza have their distilleries pumping out tons of tequila a year in the city of Tequila. The city of Arandas is one hour and a half east of Guadlajara and is the home to 15 distilleries, including the producers of Centinela and Cazadores brands. Many in the tequila industry have downplayed the rivalry that exists between these two tequila producing cities, but among local residents, pride and bragging rights cleary point out that an “undeclared war” exists between Arandas and Tequila. Although there are numerous other distilleries, both small and big, scattered among the state of Jalisco, Arandas and Tequila produce the majority of all tequila. The most important ingredient in creating an excellent tequila is the pina of the agave. Fermentation of the pina juice is the second most important factor determing the quality of the tequila. Arandas is situated in a region of Jalisco that is known as “Los Altos.” This word translates to “The Highlands”. The elevation plays a vital role in ensuring the pinas in Arandas are well hydrated; thus, producing bigger pinas than the pinas grown in the tequila region. The red soil in Arandas is also richer in nutrients and minerals. As I traveled from Tequila to Arandas, there was a stark contrast in climate and vegetative growth. As I progressed east, the land was greener and the temperature was milder. Pinas in Arandas are, on average, one-third bigger than their Tequila counterparts. They are also richer in sugars due to the rich soil composition. Many distilleries in Tequila mix their pinas with pinas from Arandas. Clearly, the best agaves are produced in Arandas! This does not automatically make Aranda tequila superior to the one produced in Tequila. There are other factors involved in the tequila making process that distinguish its taste and quality. These factors include superb fermentation and distillation processes, the quality of barrels used for aging, and other subtle factors that can make a good tequila into a great one. As I spent time in restaurants and bars in Arandas, I would survey bartenders and ask them to name the top 5 tequila brands. The one common tequila brand that was rated highly among all bartenders surveyed (yeah, i know, it was not a scientific survey) was Herraduras. This brand is produced in a small town, outside the outskirts of Tequila. For locals from Arandas to respect and acknowledge a tequila that is not their own shows the great quality and care that is estabished to make tequilas from Heradurras.


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