January 2008


Los Tres Gringos Gays get Tequila

Welcome to TequilaAlthough none of us are serious Tequila drinkers, Jay, Murph, and I decided to take a tour out into the countryside to the center of Tequila, Tequila.

Yes, Tequila is not just a drink, it’s a town, and we hopped onboard a bus for a 250 peso (about US$25) Tequila tour showing us how tequila is made. Overall, it was an excellent tour, although there were a couple weak aspects along the way.

I was really surprised by the fact that the bus was probably 60/40 Spanish/English speakers. Had you asked me before the tour started what the composition of the bus was going to be, I would have guessed 20/80 in favor of English speakers—and I’m not sure why I would have guessed that. One of the more amusing aspects of the tour was that all the Spanish speakers sat in the front part of the bus, leaving an English language ghetto at the back of the bus, something that prompted our tour guide to ask the English speakers if we were one group—which considering the combination of people, including four Aussie, was highly unlikely.

AgaveOnce we were on the bus, we headed toward Tequila, stopping first at a field of Agave plants, the plant that forms the base of the drink. The plants are incredibly beautiful, although prickly, so its not really a huggable plant. We walked out into the field and watched a retired worker dig out a mature Agave plant, chopping off its leaves getting at the core so-called “pineapple” that is ultimately roasted, pulped, fermented, and distilled.

When our tour guide made a joke about how long it was taking the man to chop the Agave plant into its core, suggesting the cutting tool was dull, we English speakers realized that we had one of “those Americans” with us. He said something like, “The tool is not sharp, just like our tour guide.”


Tequila Tres MujeresWe got sample of the field’s tequila, the Tequila Tres Mujeres—and I bought an “expensive” bottle of 100% Agave tequila, in a hand blown glass bottle that is reminiscent of the Agave plant. For US$20, I got 750ml.

From the field we headed to the actual town of Tequila where our bus had trouble negotiating corners. Once we were in the city center, we were let off, and we headed to the José Cuervo factory. The bus’s tour guide took an unfortunate break at this point, and a representative of the Mundo Cuervo took us through the factory after we watched a brief film about the history of José Cuervo.

Tequila Town HallI’ve taken a lot of tours in my life, and I have to say that the tour of the José Cuervo factory was disappointing. It was fast, brief, and not particularly enlightening. I’m not sure how I did it, but I even missed the point where our tour guide discussed the actual fermentation process. I remember the roasting of the Aguave cores (36 hours), the pulping of the Aguave, and then suddenly we were discussing the two rounds of tequilia distilling. She must have talked about it, because I remember Jay and Murph knew how long it took to ferment (not very long), but I remained clueless.

Once we got past distilling, it was pure Cuervo promotion, including looking at the fancy special packaging that they put out annually produced by México’s best artists, and a very large mural that showed the process from plant to partying.

We then got a small margarita, and waited for the Spanish speakers to catch up with us.

Cuevro WorldAt this point the bus’s guide returned to us and took us across the street to another Cuervo building where he showed us how the tequila had been made in the past—with traditional roasting pits in the ground, the Agave pulping wheels that were turned by donkies, and the old fashioned distilling machinery.

Quite frankly, I learned more from our bus’s guide than I did from the girl at the Cuervo factory.

We were given a bit of time to wander around town before we got back on the bus which then took us to a restaurant with spectacular views and below average food; and later we headed back to Guadalajara.

Touring Tequila was the perfect activity for my last full day in México.

5 comments to Los Tres Gringos Gays get Tequila

  • While in the area, did you ever visit Tlaquepaque or Tonalá (suburbs of Guadalajara, as I understand it)? My parents dig those places for art and furniture shopping. My company has offices in Tlaquepaque of all places, but sadly they haven’t yet needed to ship me out there.

  • B.

    I’ve always wanted to go to a Mezcal plant and watch the worms being dropped into the bottles.

    What a way to go…

  • Nothing better than a booze tour. You shouldn’t worry about the info, it’s how drunk you get, isn’t it?
    I recently listened to a podcast about tequila, how the the workers are paid by how much they harvest. They perform backbreaking work for little pay. The industry itself is also in trouble: they planted too much to try to stave off a shortage of guava about 10 – 15 years ago, and now there’s a huge glut.
    Send some this way!

  • Your whole post I kept hearing a country song running through my head. “José Cuervo you are a friend of mine. I like to drink you with a little salt and lime.”

    Thanks for the informational tour!

  • @cliff1976: We were there over holidays and I was a bit concerned that things would not be open on Sundays or on New Years Day, plus I was uncertain about New Year’s Eve, so I never suggested heading out of central area. Next time I will definitely head out of the core and explore more.

    @B: I know what to do with you… 🙂

    @ian: I have 750ml in my kitchen; if you stop by before it’s gone, you are welcome to multiple shots!

    @Snooker: glad you enjoyed it… we need to have dinner again, soon!