Jose Cuervo Distillery Tour: Part I

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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