January 2016 - Tequila Mexico
I'll start off with some Wikipedia wisdom about Tequila.
Tequila was first produced in the 16th century near the location of the city of Tequila, which was not officially established until 1666. The Aztec people had previously made a fermented beverage from the agave plant, long before the Spanish arrived in 1521. When the Spanish conquistadors ran out of their own brandy, they began to distill agave to produce one of North America's first indigenous distilled spirits.
Some 80 years later, around 1600, Don Pedro Sánchez de Tagle, the Marquis of Altamira, began mass-producing tequila at the first factory in the territory of modern-day Jalisco. By 1608, the colonial governor of Nueva Galicia had begun to tax his products. Spain's King Carlos IV granted the Cuervo family the first license to commercially make tequila.
Don Cenobio Sauza, founder of Sauza Tequila and Municipal President of the Village of Tequila from 1884–1885, was the first to export tequila to the United States, and shortened the name from "Tequila Extract" to just "Tequila" for the American markets. Don Cenobio's grandson Don Francisco Javier gained international attention for insisting that "there cannot be tequila where there are no agaves!" His efforts led to the practice that real tequila can come only from the State of Jalisco.
Mexican laws state that tequila can only be produced in the state of Jalisco and limited municipalities in the states of Guanajuato, Michoacán, Nayarit, and Tamaulipas Tequila is recognized as a Mexican designation of origin product in more than 40 countries. It is protected through NAFTA in Canada and the United States, through bilateral agreements with individual countries such as Japan and Israel and has been a protected designation of origin product in the constituent countries of the European Union since 1997.
We took a bus tour to Tequila and it was a pretty good tour as far as tours go.
Some sights as we drove into town.
Our first stop is Tres Mujeres tequila, named after the "Three Ladies" most precious to the Melendrez family. Today, the family is one of the largest growers of blue agave with over 8 million agave plants.
For over 65 years, Jesus Sergio Partida has been growing millions of their renowned blue agave plants for well-known tequila manufacturers. Over the years, the family decided to create Tres Mujeres Tequila using their most select blue agave. Their mission is to fill a void in the premium tequila market for a 100% blue agave, 100% natural, quality tequila that is affordably priced.
Blue Agave plants are cultivated on plantations and take about 8-10 years to fully mature. When the mature Agave plants are ready for harvesting, the Agave harvester, known as the "Jimador," manually removes the piña, which is extracted from the core of the Agave plant exactly as it has been done for centuries. Each piña weighs between 65 and 135 pounds. It takes about 17 pounds of Agave to produce 1 liter of 100% Agave Tequila. The piña hearts are split open and steamed in large pressure cookers. The resulting liquids flow into large steel vats for fermentation, where the process takes from 12 hours to several days, depending on several different factors including the amount of water and sugar in the piñas, the type of yeast used and the ambient temperature.
When fermentation is complete, the liquid then undergoes a double distillation process. When the second distillation is complete, a potent high-proof Tequila emerges. All Tequila is colorless when it comes out of the still. This silver or Blanco Tequila is then diluted with distilled water to achieve the desired 80 proof. Silver or Blanco Tequila becomes "Reposado" from a process of aging a minimum of two months in large wooden tanks. Gold Tequila that is not 100% Agave is artificially darkened with caramel coloring. Super-Premium or "Añejo" Tequila is aged longer in oak barrels. Depending on the aging technique the Tequila takes on a different flavor and smoothness. Like fine wines, the complexity and flavor is enhanced with age. “Extra Añejo” is aged in white oak casks for at least three years, making it the “oldest” and rarest of the aging styles.
Entering the Cava.
Private bar in the cave.
What?? No tasting???? We then are bused to the cactus fields.
That's better, tastings.
Enjoy your Tequila with friends!
Arriba (glasses up)
Abajo (glasses down)
Al Centro (glasses to the front – health for all of you!)
Y Pa’dentro (inside) as the end and drink your Tequila!
We also sampled Rompope (rum-po-pe) is a Mexican style Egg Nog conceived in a convent during the Spanish Colonial Era in the city of Puebla. This drink is not originally from Mexico but it has been adopted by the Mexican people as a traditional drink and adapted into traditional customs and practices. Conventionally, Rompope is made with eggs, rum, vanilla, milk, sugar and almonds and is thick with a yellow color due to the egg yolk.
There is an old story that sister Edugives was the only nun at the convent authorized by the church to make and taste the Rompope, which was only used for special occasions. She went to great lengths to convince the convent Mother to let other nuns enjoy this delicious drink. She argued that one small cup a day wasn’t bad for them and, one day, she finally succeeded. The nuns became so efficient at making Rompope, they were able to sell it commercially and raise money for the convent, ensuring its spread and guaranteeing it the popularity it still holds today.