The Best Distillery Tour: La Altenia Distillery

I grimaced in displeasure when I first drove to the Altenia Distillery, makers of Tapatio and El Tesoro De San Felipe brand tequilas. The building looked somewhat drab and unassuming. It’s bare brick exterior walls gave it an appalling look. This tour was not on my schedule but when I overheard two patrons at a local restaurant mention the upcoming 70th year anniversary of this distillery, I went out my way to stop by and visit. Approaching the building, I noticed only one car parked in the front, dirt parking lot. To my surprise, a middle-aged man came out to greet me. He said the distillery was closed. I offered to bribe him with a reward of $25 American Dollars if he would permit me to walk around and take a few pictures. To my delight, he not only declined my “mordida” but he volunteered to guide me around the distillery. Fernando was not a tour guide per say, he was more of a Jimador foreman but he did know a thing or two about the distillation process of Tequila. While the outside walls of the distillery initially made me second guess why I made the extra effort to tour this place, by the time I walked back to my rental car, I told myself of the dozen or so distilleries I visited/toured, this was my best experience by far.

Located a short distance from the outskirts of Arrandas, you have to travel by dirt road to get to the distillery. Unlike all the other distilleries I visited, where modern technology has made the traditional way of making Tequila a thing of the past, the tequila production here is as close as you can get to taking a step back in time, decades before when handcrafted products were the norm, not the exception.

The charm of this distillery can be described with one word – tradition. Everything around here is a moment frozen in time. The water boiler dates back to the 50’s and is used to make every single batch of Tequila. Unlike other distilleries that use either stainless steel or copper tanks to ferment the agave, La Altenia uses wooden barrels. Many can attest, wood containers give the tequila a more robust, genuine flavor. The distillery takes pride in itself by boasting it produces the last handcrafted tequila on Earth. There is only one way to challenge this boast – a sample of Tequila, por favor. All in the name of research and good will, I took a shot of El Tesoro and let me just say, “muy, muy bueno”!
I kid you not, taking a shot with a bull’s horn, pictured above, makes the tequila taste better. For more information on the Altenia Distillery visit http://www.eltesorotequila.com

Paradiso, Tesoro, and Tapatio Tequila is produced at the Altenia Distillery.

Writers disclaimer: This distillery is not a sophisticated operation. Tours are provided by request only. Obviously, this distillery is family owned and operated. Tequila drinkers can appreciate the handcrafted flavor that epitomizes the Altenia brand Tequilas.

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