2012 TRIP TO JALISCO -
Wednesday morning, September 12th, following breakfast at the Hacienda Vieja Restaurant, we negotiated taxi transportation for the day’s visit to the Rancho La Joya Distillery. This distillery is about 30 minutes drive from the hotel.
We arrived and after clearing security are greeted by Ivette Gonzalez, Supervisor of Sales. We watched a video about their tequila production and jumped right into tasting Rancho La Joya Blanco and Reposado. It’s only about 11 am, but surely it’s five o-clock somewhere.
We take our time noting herbal and citrus aromas/flavors and a clear agave presence in the Blanco. The Reposado had similar aromas along with some wood notes but upon tasting, we found it to be a bit more on the fruity side. Both had a creamy consistency and a lasting finish.
Following the tasting, we are led by Ivette and Carmen on a detailed tour of their production area.
It is explained the distillery is owned by the Garcia family. Currently they only bottle Rancho La Joya Blanco and Reposado tequila, but their Añejo (now in the barrels) is planned for release in January 2013.
We can’t help but notice the beauty of this hacienda style facility. There is even a partial golf course at this location.
A big thanks to Isaac, Ivette and Carmen at Rancho La Joya for a great visit to their awesome distillery. Additional photos can be viewed at: Rancho La Joya Photo Gallery
After a brief stop at our hotel, we made our way to the Vivanco distillery (producers of Viva Mexico). Rene and I visited this distillery in May 2011, thus this was more for John’s benefit and also to say hello to the folks at Vivanco while we are in the neighborhood. Manuel Vivanco Jr. was there to show us around.
As he walked us through their small facility, we smelled agave baking in the stone ovens. We listened to classical music from speakers located above the fermentation tanks. We watched their bottling line in action and then sat down to taste some Viva Mexico Blanco, Reposado and Añejo tequila. This is a family owned and operated distillery which uses only estate-grown agave for their tequila.
Our conversation turned to Manuel’s involvement with a team of charros that compete at local rodeos. His eyes lit up as he informed us his team (Charros Tequila Viva Mexico) will be riding in the huge parade of horses during the upcoming Independence Day weekend. Over 2000 horses participate in the famous Arandas holiday parade.
Thanks again to Manuel for another pleasant visit to Viva Mexico!
Additional photos can be viewed at: Viva Mexico Photo Gallery
On Thursday it was time for a change in scenery. We had a hearty breakfast, packed our bags and headed for the Tequila Valley.
The bartender remembered us from last year’s visit. We indulged in a satisfying glass of Reserva de la Familia, Jose Cuervo’s top of the line product. It was served straight from the barrel (before being diluted with water to achieve the proper alcohol level). We were pleased with the intense aromas and flavors of this premium spirit.
We had another glass of Reserva de la Familia, this time poured from the bottle. The flavors are toned down slightly. Even so, this is an exceptional tequila.
Additional photos of the Cuervo Distillery can be viewed at: La Rojeña
Next stop was La Capilla Bar where owner Don Javier Delgado, 89 years young, mixes his creation known as the Batanga (a hefty amount of tequila, Coca-Cola, and fresh squeezed lime served in a tall glass with a salted rim). It’s the hot part of the day and these babies are refreshing.
We arrived by taxi on schedule where we joined a small group of people waiting for the tour. Little did we know at the time we were being paired up with some rather important folks.
Along the way we watched as a Jimador demonstrated his skill harvesting the agave plant. A few of the group took their turn at shaving down the piña. They quickly realized this is no easy task. Jabs of criticism are tossed around as our tour group members fail to achieve the desired results.
After visiting the production area, Ruben walked us through the old factory known as “fabrica Antigua”. Many years ago tequila was produced here using a process that has since been abandoned by tequila manufactures.
The task of harvesting the agave is still performed by the hands of a hard-working jimadors. However, over the years as you might expect, technological advances have driven changes to production methods. This is not necessarily a good thing as the tequila’s characteristics change along with each modification to the production process.
Herradura, aka Hacienda San Jose del Refugio, has done a great job preserving the old production area. If you ever visit the town of Amatitan in Jalisco, I recommend you make time to visit this historic site.
As we headed for the barrel room, Ruben explained the aging process for their “Double-Barrel” program. Herradura Reposado that has rested in used whisky barrels for eleven months is transferred to a new barrel for one additional month. The barrels contain about 200 liters each, depending on evaporation. The precious tequila that evaporates during aging is known as the “angel’s share”.
It is mentioned that we too could purchase a similar double-barrel for about $9,000 USD.
The barrels are unsealed before our eyes and samples are poured in Riedel glasses for each of us to taste. Roger has requested we all participate by tasting each and selecting our favorite.
All three of these double-barrel tequilas were good in their own way. However, one had stronger fruit notes and it was eventually selected under the notion it would be the best choice for mixing as well as sipping.
Ruben explained to the group it was now time for lunch. I asked Nick, the Aussie from Mamasita Restaurant in Melbourne, if we were all invited to lunch. He responded "I'm riding this thing till the wheels fall off". I smiled and nodded with concurrence.
We were treated to a catered buffet-style lunch out on the lawn under some shady trees. A flavorful "Tamarindo Margarita" was brought to each of us as we sat down. Appetizers were delivered along with fresh-made tortillas.
Over at the buffet station was a nice selection of meats along with vegetables, rice and beans. There was a bartender on hand to fetch the tequila of your choice. Herradura’s top tequila, Seleccion Suprema, was getting a lot of calls during the desert course.
A big thanks to the folks at Brown Foreman, Herradura and Roger at Steiner’s for including us on this very memorable day.
Additional photos of Herradura Distillery can be viewed at: Herradura Distillery
Early Friday evening I took a short walk to the store. I felt the wind picking up and noticed some ominous clouds quickly approaching. Five minutes later as I left the store the clouds unloaded a wave of hail (what the hail?). I found cover at the corner liquor store across the street from our hotel and watched as the wind started hurling the hail sideways. A group of screaming school children darted in next to me. Before long the hail turned into a monsoon style downpour. The street became a rapid moving body of water halting traffic at the intersection. I watched as a small tree was blown down on top of a parked motorcycle. A road sign tumbled down the street propelled by the swift moving current. After awhile, the school kids decided they needed to cross. Holding hands they formed a chain and carefully waded through the fast moving water. The natives were taking videos with their cell phones. Unfortunately, my camera was on the wrong side of the river and I wanted to stay dry.
Click here to view a photo gallery comprised of images from our 2009 through 2012 Jalisco Trips