2012 TRIP TO JALISCO -
Three amigos associated with the Tequila Connection website went on a 10-day trip to tequila country in September 2012. We attended the Tequila Expo in Tlaquepaque and visited several distilleries in the Los Altos and Tequila Valley areas. Here is the story.
As we dragged our luggage toward the pedestrian entrance to Mexico, we passed some US Customs Agents on the US side, one of them holding the leash to a frisky German Sheppard. The dog takes a whiff of each of us but when he gets a sniff of John, he seems to want more. Rene and I step aside as John and his luggage are searched. A memory flashes through my mind of when we were returning from last year’s trip (Guadalajara airport agents riffling through our suitcases). I say to Rene “I hope this isn’t a sign of what’s to come”. The search reveals nothing unusual and we are given the green light to proceed.
We decided to check out the Tequila Expo at the Cultural Center (a few blocks past the plaza). Surprisingly, the free event was not crowded when we arrived. We spent a couple hours mingling with the tequila representatives, taking photos and sampling tequilas. We told them we would return the following day to collect details and rate some of their brands.
A group of female mariachis played for over an hour circulating around the restaurant.
Again we were treated to good food, reasonable prices and fun music performed by talented mariachi bands.
The Tequila Expo became increasingly crowded during the weekend evenings so we used this time to explore the central plaza and artsy walkways of Tlaquepaque.
Bordering the plaza is “El Tecolote” liquor store. They have great prices and a better-than-average selection. For example, John picked up a 750ml bottle of Cava Antigua Reposado for about $30 USD. This bottle, if you can find it, usually cost over $50 in Mexico.
If you make it to Tlaquepaque, I recommend you check out the tequila deals at El Tecolote and El Buho liquor stores.
On Monday, September 10th, we headed for the highlands. We opted to take a taxi in attempt to save time (as opposed to taking the bus from Guadalajara to Arandas). However, our driver took a route under construction thus it took us 2 ½ hours to reach the Santa Barbara Hotel in Arandas.
After settling in to our hotel we had a free afternoon. Rene and I decided to show John the huge bell and beautiful Church in downtown Arandas.
We also did some shopping at the El Tesoro de Don Felipe Tequila office but had little luck trying to arrange a tour of Tequila Ocho.
I got the feeling the clerk was being protective as to the whereabouts of people we were trying to locate. Maybe it was my imagination. Maybe it was a precaution due to increased violence in Mexico, but it seemed peculiar at the time.
Two mariachi bands played non-stop, alternating songs from different sides of the restaurant. After a king-size meal, we walked back to the hotel via the Shrek Bar where we watched the Chargers beat the Raiders on Monday Night Football. We were joined by some interesting characters. “Whisky Now” one thirsty patron loudly demanded!
Tuesday morning Juan Francisco from the Tequila Professionals and his photographer, Andres Ortega from ABC Design met us at the hotel for breakfast followed by a day of visiting distilleries. Juan was animated and entertaining during breakfast as he explained his dealings with the folks that oversee Mexico’s tequila business.
Our first stop was the Galindo Distillery on the outskirts of Arandas. Owner and Master Distiller Miguel Galindo showed us around his facility while describing some of his production techniques. In the photo below, Miguel demonstrates the difference in viscosity resulting from a third distillation. Andres Ortega of ABC Design did some filming and videos have been posted on the Tequila Professionals website: Tequila Professionals
We sampled some of Galindo’s tequila including his organic triple-distilled blanco. He sent us off each with a bottle of our choosing. Thanks a bunch to Miguel Galindo for all the hospitality!
Juan drove us down pot-hole ridden roads and a rugged dirt road to reach a couple other distilleries (Mexico Viejo and Agave Tequiliana). Unfortunately, his persistent attempts to gain entrance were repeatedly rejected because of plant maintenance (dangerous conditions), or a lack of communication (they didn’t receive notice we were coming). Juan seemed somewhat perplexed stating he had contacted the distilleries previously to arrange our visits. By this time we were ready for another meal and this one certainly did not disappoint.
We are seated and soon joined by owner Salvador Santos and one of his many sons, Pablo. We take some group shots while our drinks are brought to the table.
El Jefe Santos breaks out bottles of his line of Castelan Tequila for us to taste prior to and during our meal.
Pablo takes charge and orders some menu items which are served up “family-style”.
The restaurant walls are painted with murals of people who fought in the "War of the Cristeros" at this location back in 1926. One of those people is Salvador’s papa, Miguel Santos. The Santos family has deep roots in the town of Jesus Maria.
After a long and satisfying meal, we head back to our hotel in Arandas. It turns out we didn’t have time to visit any other distilleries.
Rene, John and I wish to extend our heartfelt gratitude to Juan Francisco for coordinating the distillery visits and escorting us on this enjoyable day. PART 2 - THE STORY CONTINUES