Wednesday, July 26, 2017
Canadian Rockies-Guadalajara Mexico
We were spoiled by the family in Mexico. The hospitality, friendship and exposure to their culture was over the top. The image above is from the courtyard of the Chamber of Commerce in Tequila, Mexico. This is the birthplace of Tequila, and we had an incredible journey there.
This huge wall mural shows a goddess in the middle, with the agave plant above. From the agave plant and water comes life, music, recreation, families, birth and death. Expand the image, and take the time to really study this work of art.
On the journey 60 kms. NW of GDL ,we were soon surrounded by fields of blue agave. Once in Tequila, we boarded a bus that took us on a tour of 3 factories. The first one was Orendain, one of the largest distilleries in Mexico. I had never heard of this Tequila ( I am a Tequila fan) yet it is one of the largest producers of Tequila in the world.We first saw a huge pile of agave, some as big as medicine balls you balance on while working out. They can weigh from 10 to 40 kgms, and it takes 7-8 years before the agave plant can be harvested. (It takes around 5 kgms of agave to make one liter of Tequila)The workers had flat, sharp, shovel like tools they cut the leafy fronds off with. They then took sharp axes and cut the artichoke like balls into smaller pieces. This was then placed into huge ovens where the agave is cooked at a high temperature. We had a chance to taste the agave and it was not unlike cane sugar, hence its use for Tequila. Once the pods are heated they are then crushed in a huge machine. The juice from the agave travels in one direction and has water and yeast added to it, and the remaining fiber is gathered and stacked onto the back of large trucks. This fiber is recycled, used for floor mats, book covers etc.
The large vats of agave juice, water and yeast are then allowed to ferment. You can actually see bubbles popping off the surface of the vats as the fermentation process takes place. This liquid is then strained into large tanks and boiled at a high temperature. Our first taste of tequila was from a vat where the tequila is 55 proof! It is boiled again and again.......each time tested for its alcoholic content to get it to 40-45 proof.
The Tequila is then stored in steel or oak tanks, and there are many varieties of Tequila.
The first is Tequila Silver, or Blanco, Plato, White or Platinum. This is the Blue Agave spirit in its truest form. It is clear and typically unaged. It can be bottled directly after distillation, or stored in stainless steel tanks to settle for up to 4 weeks. It definitely has a true "Kick" to it.
Tequila Gold-Joven-Oro is typically a Mixto, where colorants and flavorings have been added prior to bottling. These "young and adulterated" Tequilas are less expensive and used in many bars and restaurants for mixed drinks.
Tequila Resposado is the first stage of 'rested and aged". The Tequila is aged in wood barrels or storage tanks between 2 and 11 months. The spirit takes on a golden hue and the taste becomes a good balance between the Agave and wood flavors. Many different types of wood barrels are used for aging, with the most common being American or French Oak.
Tequila Anejo (extra aged)
After aging at least one year, Tequila can then be classified as an "Anejo". The distillers are required to age Anejo Tequila in barrels that do not exceed 600 liters. This aging process darkens the Tequila to an Amber color, and the flavor can be smoother, richer and more complex.
Tequila Extra Anejo (ultra aged)
A new classification added in the summer of 2006, labelling any Tequila aged more than 3 years, an "Extra Anejo". The distillers must age the spirit in barrels or containers with a maximum capacity of 600 liters. The Tequila becomes much darker, more of a Mahogany color, and is so rich that it becomes difficult to distinguish it from other quality aged spirits. These Extra Anejo's are extremely smooth and complex.
On our tour we also tasted Tequila blended with either pineapple, coffee and other flavors. The goal of the industry is to expand its reach with Tequila with a variety of flavors.
As I write this, I am sipping on a Tequila blend of Anejo and coffee.
In the next few weeks I will add small paintings/pictures on my blog of our journey to Guadalajara.