Mexico’s Tequila Trail
In the volcanic hills of Jalisco, a new generation of distillers is focusing attention on premium, artisanal tequila.
Much like whiskey and wine tours, taking a trip or “tequila trail” to these distilleries can involve formal tequila tastings, food pairings and multiple-course fine dining amid lush open fields of blue-green agave.
Drinking to Heritage
Aficionados of artisanal tequila know that pounding hangovers are the sole domain of college kids imbibing below-premium variants of the liquor. Track down the crème de la crème of tequila in the distilleries of Jalisco. Here, take pleasure in the expansive landscape of blue agave fields, beautifully restored haciendas (estates) and brick-and-adobe architecture in the UNESCO World Heritage site, as you sample a medley of tequila varieties.
“Here’s to alcohol, the rose-colored glasses of life.” – F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Beautiful and Damned
The modern tequila-making tradition dates back to the 16th century, but the agave plant has been fermented to create drinks and textiles as far back as 2,000 years. Today, modern distillers pay homage to the fusion of pre-Hispanic traditions of fermenting mescal juice with European distillation processes, and elevate the art of tequila appreciation through innovations like specially-designed crystal flutes or, keeping with tradition, by playing classical music to the yeast in fermentation tanks.
In Good Spirits
Anyone who has traveled to Mexico’s tequila-producing region understands why local laws protect centuries-old traditions kept by family-owned distilleries for generations. The making of premium tequila is a painstaking, laborious process, which can take between eight and 14 years — from harvest to bottling. But, like a vintage single malt, the results are well worth the wait. This spirit can display fruity, spicy, smoky, earthy, vegetal and herbal flavors that are fully appreciated when sipped and savored.