Undoubtedly the scent in the air.
If you were to ask us what surprised us the most when we discovered Tequila, we would say, in agreement, that the strange sweet smell we so often felt.
We had already traveled countless times through tropical domains laden with sugar cane, equipped with mills and processing units that spread their particular fragrance. That one, however, was another. Little by little, it got into our minds.
We arrived in Tequila exhausted from a long journey, mostly at night, departing in mexcaltitan, in the north of the state of Nayarit, neighboring that of Jalisco that we continued to explore. We settled in a rented house, some distance from the plinth and the historic center.
The next morning, as we had feared, the traffic on the cobbled street in front started to wake us up. The service ended, a gurgling chorus from a turkey farm next door.
Tequila is also this. But so, so much more.
In high season, thousands of outsiders visit it and experience it every day, most of them, Gringos expats in Guadalajara, Puerto Vallarta and the surrounding area.
On any given night, his name is repeated over and over around the Earth.
The drink, mixed and stirred in countless Margaritas, Tequila Sunrises and Bloody Marias.
However, the eponymous city preserves a modesty, a traditionality and rurality that only reinforce its charm.
The term “tequila” derives from the word Nahuatl (Aztec dialect)"teguilan”, translatable as “place of tributes”.
Tequila: from Lugarejo Azteca to Planetary Fame
Over the centuries, indigenous, colonial and Mexican history has made the city of Tequila its own tribute.
A Jalisque and Mexican tribute to human ingenuity and creativity.
And, as a reward, to socializing and being in a good mood.
O plinth de Tequila is, like almost all in Mexico, formed by a church built in stone by the Spanish colonists, connected with a square with an iron bandstand in the center.
The inevitable three-dimensional and colorful sign identifies the pueblo and makes up the whole.
In the case of Tequila, the said sign became so disputed that some young sons of his land made it necessary.
They promote themselves as experienced and creative photographers and photograph visitors after visitors, from all angles and more, even lying on the floor or almost doing handstands.
The Mexican pesos with which outsiders reward them encourage them to persevere.
Tequila and its lively Zócalo
There's something else about the city's zocalo that sets it apart.
It is occupied by dozens of street bars, stalls and trailers full of tequila bottles with notorious labels, the most classic and serious of Tequila. añeja – matured and with superior quality – to others, youthful and fashionable.
These bars serve your favorite Mexican drinks, micheladas, snack and others.
They serve, above all, chants, small clay pots overflowing with a popular version of cocktails, made with orangeade or grapefruit soda, lime and orange juice, ice and, of course, tequila.
As Mexicans see it, going to Tequila and not drinking one singing (better to say, several) results in an irreparable heresy.
Accordingly, in the square, in the streets around, we come across chants countless, held, like gifts, by drunken souls, by hands trembling with convivial happiness.
Often, aboard vehicles in the form of barrels in which accredited guides introduce them to and explain the peculiarities and eccentricities of the town.
The Distillers that give the City the Aroma of Agave
From time to time, the agave balm that envelops the multicolored houses, here and there, embellishes their sense of smell, is embellished by thematic murals.
Tequila, of course.
The chimneys of the city's centuries-old and renowned distillers, José Cuervo and Sauza, release this scent.
They were both in the genesis of the enterprise tequilera from Jalisco and Mexico.
They are inseparable from the foundation and notoriety of the Tequila village and its demarcated region.
Today, limited to the state of Jalisco and a few municipalities in Guanajuato, Michoacan, Nayarit and Tamaulipas.
Throughout history, the two families lived together and enriched themselves from the profit of tequila.
Their huge farms and factories still clash.
Alleys or walls separate them. The chimneys of its distillers stand out above the houses, as if keeping an eye on rival production.
Incursions into Mundo Cuervo and Casa Sauza, the unavoidable producers of Tequila
visit a tequilera hacienda is another one of Tequila's unavoidable rituals. We are lucky to be invited to take guided tours of both Mundo Cuervo and the neighboring and competing domain of Casa Sauza.
on both sides of street José Cuervo (promoted as the oldest in the city) we are dazzled by the jalopy collection, the huge barrel room and the La Rojena factory, (in turn, the oldest in Latin America)
And the huge statue of the black crow, just outside the entrance.
Yet the magnificence of ranch complement El Centenario, site of the José Beckmann Gallardo Museum of Art and Culture.
In this intricate and elegant Mundo Cuervo, we are also treated to an intense tequila tasting, in which we learn to distinguish the flavor, color and aroma variations between the tequila categories, from the most to the least matured: Extra Añeja, Añeja, Reposada, Joven u Oro and Blanca, in any case, depending on the percentage of blue agave sugars used in the manufacture.
Now in the hands of Casa Sauza, we have the privilege of following an exhibition of jima.
The Jima dos Agaves and the opulence of Casa Sauza
In a plantation of blue agaves on the outskirts, we were amazed by the skill of a jimador rigorously dressed and protected that uses different sharp tools to harvest and cut the thorny (and dangerous) plant of the blue agave.
It does so until all that remains is its pulpy, sugary heart, which, after being squeezed, is left to ferment and distill.
Back in the historic center of Tequila, we are shown the gardens and secular buildings of Casa Sauza.
Including the wall"Tahona and Fiesta” painted in 1969 by José Maria Servin and which dramatizes and surrealizes the long and intricate history of tequila.
They also give us a breathtaking tour of the interior of the factory, with meticulous explanations about the treatments given in each huge tank, depending on the desired final tequila.
It is a complex management, considering that, over time, Casa Sauza has split into several brands and sub-names of products consistent with the category of bottled blue agave brandy.
José Cuervo and Casa Sauza may even be the oldest and most renowned producers of Tequila.
Many more occupied the parched, volcanic soils around, each with its own blue agave plantations.
Agavero landscape of Tequila: Agaves as far as the eye can see
In the last days spent in Tequila, we got lost in the route of the landscape agaverus of the region, in such a picturesque and unique way that the UNESCO classified it and does it to protect.
We also wandered through the José Cuervo plantations, in an immensity of pointed rows stretching between the Tequila Volcano and the Federal road 15D.
When we are there, with the sun setting over the Pacific Ocean and making the blue agaves sparkle, we are worried about what would have generated all that eccentric sea of vegetation.
The Native and Colonial Origins of Tequila
It is known that the Olmec, Aztec and other ethnic groups and sub-ethnics already fermented agave to produce pulque, a sacred drink attributed to their own god, Patecatl.
Now, once the conquest of Mexico was consolidated, the Spaniards soon became distressed by the lack of wine with which they were used to watering their meals, and of the brandy they drank, on the most diverse occasions or even without occasions, throughout Iberia.
Still tried to replace them with the pulque. But, unlike the natives, the Spaniards despised the divine drink.
Averse to giving up, the invaders decided to do their own fermentation experiments and, later, agave distillation.
They started by improvising, mixing clay with agave pulp.
This process gave rise to the no less famous Mezcal.
At a certain point, they realized that the blue agave, in particular, guaranteed them a brandy, even if distilled from a species of cactus, as good or better than those consumed in Spain.
The Tequila that is a Mezcal but the Mezal that cannot be Tequila
There is a lot to be said for the difference between Mezcal and Tequila.
It is, however, based on two premises:
- tequila is considered a Mezcal.
- the opposite does not apply. Mezcal can be obtained from a variety of agaves. If the raw material is just blue agave, then we will be tasting a tequila, not a Mezcal.
At the beginning of the XNUMXth century, the Marquis of Altamira, a wealthy settler, decided to build a large-scale brandy distillery, a pioneer in Mexico.
By doing so in the current lands of Tequila, he seeded the local production and tradition.
And it opened doors to successive other initiatives that the commercial route between Manila (Philippines) and Mexico, opened by the Spanish Crown in the previous century, almost always guaranteed profitable.
Today, the Cuervo and Sauza families, who launched their own productions, respectively in 1758 and 1873, are considered the still active elders of the world-wide consumed and celebrated tequila.
WHERE TO STAY IN TEQUILA
Hotel Posada Tierra Magica
Phone: +52 374 742 1414
Hotel Nueve Agaves
Phone: +52 374 688 03 96