Tequila Tour 2010


This tour was talked about for for years, but we finally decided that we needed to "Just Do It." So, a date was agreed upon, and we did it. Tom made most of the arrangements (Thanks Tom). Also present were Tom's brother Bill, and friends Woody and Eric. This is the story of our immersion into the culture of tequila.

By Mexican law, specific conditions must be met for a spirit to be labeled tequila. All tequila is made from a specific species of blue agave grown in the Mexican state of Jalisco and parts of a few surrounding states. Tequila was granted a Denomination of Origin status on May 27, 1997 by international treaty. Thus, to truly learn about tequila, you must travel to Jalisco.

Our guide was David Ruiz. He is an extremely personable and knowledgeable tequila expert. He grew up in the San Francisco Bay area, and spent his summers with family in Jalisco. Thus, he understands very well the cultures both of his visitors from the USA and of his colleagues in Mexico. He speaks English, Spanish and tequila fluently. I recommend his services without reservation.

We stayed at the Hotel Morales. There we had excellent accommodations, fine service, and great breakfasts at the buffet.


Guadalajara is the destination city for anyone headed for Jalisco to learn about tequila. It is also the birthplace of Mariachi music (1). After lunch at El Patio, in Tlaquepaque, a suburb of Guadalajara (2,3), we headed to the Rio de Plata (4) tequila manufacturing plant in the heart of Guadalajara, for our first introduction to the production of tequila. Blue agave plants (5) require about nine years to mature. During harvesting, here demonstrated by our host Bernardo (6), who is also a master tequila taster, the plant is cut from its roots and the leaves are shaved off, leaving the heart (piña, pineapple in Spanish). The piña is then cooked (7) in either an autoclave or slower in an oven. Further processing, to be shown later, includes crushing the cooked agave, fermentation, and distillation. The tequila is then either immediately bottled (blanco tequila) or aged in barrels (8, reposado/añejo tequila). It is then ready for thirsty travelers to sample (9,10).

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We ate at the Santo Coyote restaurant (11, 12,13) in Guadalajara our last night in Mexico. The restaurant had been featured in the cable television show Three Sheets, and included a segment featuring our hostess, who kindly consented to be photographed (14).


After breakfast we headed into the Jalisco highlands east of Guadalajara. The first stop was a couple of Tequilerias in Atotonilco (1,2,3). Free tasting led to a couple of purchases. Next was an amazing personalized tour of 7 Leguas. Led by director Fernando González (4), we we shown the traditional tequila making process which is still used at 7 Leguas. The original owner of 7 Leguas was Fernando's grandfather, an infamous lady's man and gun aficionado. 7 Leguas (7 leagues) is the distance one could travel by horse in one day. It was also the name of Pancho Villa's favorite horse (5). In this artisanal process, the finest piñas are split (6) and then steam cooked in ovens (7). The sweet, softened piñas are then crushed in the traditional way using a large stone (tahona) pulled by mules (8). The liquid released is then placed in tanks to ferment from natural yeasts from the environment (9, 11). At 7 Leguas, the fibrous piña remnants are included in this process, adding additional flavor to their product (10). A double distillation process then produces blanco tequila. At 7 Leguas, they still use copper stills (12, alambiques). After we sampled the full range of 7 Leguas' products, from Blanco to Extra Añejo (13), Fernando brought out a plain glass jug of a single barrel extra añejo that is not available for sale. This made the traffic on the way back to Guadalajara more tolerable.

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The highland terrain was covered with agave plants (14). At times we were able to identify the stalk (quiote) the plant sends up when it is ready to flower (15). Other stops on the highland tour included Destiladora Suprema de los Altos, where David consulted to develop Tavi Tequila, which will be introduced in the USA this year. We also saw flavored tequilas being bottled (16). In Arandas, we had a brief photo op at Cazadores (17), and then ate lunch at Jaime's, a great carnitas place (18).

Tequila Road

The third day we spent driving to and from the town of Tequila on the "Tequila Road" west of Guadalajara. Included were views of Tequila volcano (1), a stop at Tres Mujeres were we got to try our hand at being Jimadores (2-5), and a tour of the production site of Herradura (6-16) in Amatitán.

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The final photos are from the town of Tequila itself (17-20), including the requisite stop at Jose Cuervo (21).

Tastings and Links
Tequilas we tasted: Useful and Informative Links:

Tapatio blanco
4 Copas añejo
Herencia blanco, reposado, añejo, Historico extra añejo
Gonzales blanco, reposado
7 Leguas blanco, reposado, añejo, extra añejo, single barrel extra añejo
Tavi blanco
Cava del Mayoral blanco-añejo
Tres Mujeres blanco, reposado, añejo, extra añejo
Antigua reposado
El Jimador reposado
35 Suave reposado

Tequila: In Search of the Blue Agave

Tequila Connection

Guadalajara YouTube video

Take a Ride on the Tequila Express (CBS Sunday Morning segment, consultant David Ruiz)


Family Info