I have spent many an evening swinging back tequila shots with lime and salt. But my writing about alcohol took me to the exact focal point of the existence of this drink. I take you around Mexico in a tequila trail to discover the rich cultural heritage behind the drink. My research leads me to some of the most beautiful blue agave plantations all over Mexico. The Tequila Trail is one of the best ways to explore the Mexican countryside and explore essential parts of their cuisine. So, pack up your livers and come along.
The history of tequila
The history of Tequila takes us back quite a few centuries. Even before the Spanish had settled in Central America, locals were brewing a wine from the local agave plant, Pulque. The Blue Agave plant, although looks quite like a cactus, but it actually belongs to the family of lilies and aloe.
Tequila production is limited to the state of Jalisco and a few neighboring areas. The particular agave plant from tequila can be manufactured is the Weber Blue Agave, farms of which dot the Jalisco countryside serving more than 50 distilleries.
The journey begins.
Our tequila trail starts in Guadalajara, about 550 kms west of Mexico City. The whole city along with the old haciendas and the agave fields have been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Our first destination is the EL Lano distillery. A family which has been making tequila for 5 generations, the Orendain family are proud owners of Arette and Tres Agaves brands. I am lucky enough to witness the production of tequila in all its glory. I try to understand the complex nuances behind the drink that has become the lifeline of Mexico.
Do You Know?
Water plays a major role in making any drink famous. The clear waters from the volcanic valley of Tequila are the reason behind the clear, citrusy taste of the Tres Agaves tequila. There are also some aged ones: Reposado and Anejo which are aged in white oak barrels from Tennessee. I also find a 100% organic cocktail mix for me to carry home. Just a few splashes of tequila and I’ll be set for the evening.
The Casa Suaza distillery is next on our itinerary. We pay respects to the U.S Tequila godfather before moving deeper into the hacienda. There is a serenity in the place that befuddles anyone coming from the cities. Beautiful tree lined pathways lead us to the agave fields. Fields dotted with blue agave plants spread out in all directions as a Jimador (Agave Farmer) shows me how to harvest the plant and find the heart of the plant. I walk back to “The Perseverence” or the distillery. A sweet smell hangs in the air as the agaves are roasted and the sugars extracted from them before the fermentation starts.
The Constance is the aging cellar at the Casa Suaza distillery. It houses over 15,000 barrels of tequila being properly aged to explode on your palate. Our guide tells us about the Puros which is made from 100% agave juice and Mixto which has watered down with cane sugar and caramel colour. I take a whiff of the Suaza XA limited edition and it is an explosion of aromas. I taste the tequila in its purest form without any interference from the lime and salt. There are strong notes of citrus, sweet fruits and a smokiness to round it off.
For Food And Wine India By Dr. Sudipto De
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