Yes, you can visit a tequila distillery in Mexico. Many popular tequila brands offer distillery tours and tastings that provide a fascinating glimpse into how tequila is made. Visiting a distillery is a great way to learn about the history, production process, and different varieties of tequila.
Why Visit a Tequila Distillery?
There are several excellent reasons to visit a tequila distillery on your next trip to Mexico:
- Learn about the history and tradition of tequila making
- See how tequila is produced from start to finish
- Sample different types of tequila straight from the source
- Gain insight into the differences between types of tequila like blanco, reposado and añejo
- Experience the process of distillation firsthand
- Support local businesses and artisans
- Purchase exclusive bottlings and bring home unique souvenirs
- Immerse yourself in Mexican culture
The tequila making tradition dates back hundreds of years in Mexico. By visiting a distillery, you can learn about centuries-old production methods that are still used today as well as modern innovations. You’ll see the blue agave plants up close and may even get to sample the sweet agave juice before it’s distilled into tequila. Many tours provide an in-depth look at the fermentation and distillation processes. You can check out the aging cellars where barrels of reposado and añejo tequila slowly mature. At the end, you’ll do tastings of the finished product, often comparing different varieties side-by-side.
Popular Tequila Distillery Tours in Mexico
Some of the best and most famous tequila distilleries can be found in the state of Jalisco near the city of Tequila, about an hour’s drive from Guadalajara. This is the heart of tequila country and home to many legendary brands. Here are some highlights:
Jose Cuervo is considered the oldest and largest producer of tequila. Their La Rojeña distillery in Tequila offers daily tours showcasing modernized production methods alongside traditional processes. You’ll learn all about the history of the Cuervo family which has been making tequila since 1795.
Founded in 1870, Tequila Herradura is one of the most renowned names in tequila. Their sprawling Hacienda San Jose del Refugio distillery is located in the highlands of Jalisco near the town of Amatitan. Tours give a comprehensive look at traditional techniques of cultivating agave and double distilling tequila. You can see brick ovens where the agave piñas are cooked as well as facilities for modern fermentation. Tequila tastings let you contrast aged expressions like their signature Herradura Reposado.
For a smaller, intimate experience, consider visiting La Cofradia which is housed at the historic Hacienda el Centenario distillery. Their tour takes you through beautiful gardens to see how agave is sustainably grown without pesticides. You’ll learn about the importance of soil and climate to developing complex flavors. Comparative tastings let you taste young blanco and aged extra añejo tequilas to experience how the spirit evolves over time in oak barrels.
Casa Sauza offers an in-depth look at over five generations of family distilling history. Their tour explores how tequila has changed from an artisanal product to a mass-produced spirit and back again to artisanal production. You’ll walk through the pretty brick architecture of the late 19th century distillery to see both antiquated and modern equipment. Make sure to visit the museum and tasting room stocked with their premium Reserva de la Familia tequila.
This small distillery focuses on traditional production methods using a wood-fired clay oven and copper pot stills. On their tour, you’ll learn all about how agave plants are cultivated without herbicides before seeing them roasted in the antique oven. Tres Mujeres was founded by three women and offers a unique perspective on craft tequila making.
Run by a fifth-generation distiller, Tequila Fortaleza is known for making exceptional small-batch tequilas. Tours of La Fortaleza distillery involve walking through blue agave fields, seeing the old stone distillation facilities, and sampling their range of crisp, barrel-aged tequilas. It provides a look at tequila making on a small scale.
Nestled among rolling hills covered in agave plants, El Pandillo offers gorgeous scenic views. Their tour showcases artisanal production including roasting agave in traditional clay ovens, grinding it with a tahona stone wheel and fermenting with naturally occurring yeasts. At the end, you’ll get to taste their complex El Pandillo blanco, reposado, and añejo tequilas.
In addition to tours, many distilleries have shops where you can buy coveted limited-edition bottles as well as tequila-themed souvenirs. Sipping a well-made tequila is the perfect way to end a distillery visit.
Visiting Tequila Distilleries Outside of Jalisco
Although Jalisco and the Tequila region is the heartland of tequila production, you can find distilleries in other parts of Mexico too. For example:
Cabo Wabo in Guerrero
Founded by rock musician Sammy Hagar, the Cabo Wabo distillery is located near the resort town of Cabo San Lucas on Mexico’s Pacific coast. Their tour demonstrates smaller batch artisanal methods including roasting agave in traditional ovens and the use of a roller mill to extract juices. You can sample unaged blanco tequilas as well as extra añejo aged in Guerrero rum barrels.
Tequilas del Señor in Guanajuato
Nestled in the mountains near San Miguel de Allende, this distillery specializes in estate-grown agaves to produce premium boutique tequilas. Their tour takes you through picturesque fields and facilities to see how tequila is made start to finish. You can even stay overnight at their hotel to fully immerse yourself in traditional tequila culture.
What to Expect on a Tequila Distillery Tour
While every distillery has its own unique perspective, here’s an overview of what you can typically expect on a tequila distillery tour:
Most tours begin by showing blue agave plants growing in fields. You’ll learn how agave takes 7-10 years to mature before it can be harvested for tequila production. Distillers will explain how climate, soil, elevation and other factors influence the agave flavor profile.
Cooking & Mashing
The harvested agave piñas are then cooked, usually in traditional stone ovens, to convert complex carbohydrates into simpler sugars needed for fermentation. Some tours allow you to sample the sweet, honey-like cooked agave. The cooked agave is then crushed and mashed to extract all the sugary juice.
The extracted agave juice is transferred to large tanks or wooden barrels to ferment, which converts sugars into alcohol. Different distilleries employ various fermentation methods that impact the final flavor. This process takes 1-2 weeks.
Next, the fermented juice is distilled into tequila. Most distilleries use a variation of pot still distillation, where the tequila is double distilled for smoothness and quality. The distillation expertise of the maestro tequilero (master distiller) is key to creating great tequila.
The newly distilled white tequila can either be bottled immediately as blanco, or aged in oak barrels to become reposado (aged 2-12 months) or añejo (aged 1-3 years) tequila. Extra añejo ages for over 3 years. Tours usually include the aging cellars where barrels are stored.
The tour finale is a tasting of the distillery’s products. This lets you sample how aging and blending impact tequila’s complex bouquet and flavors. Many tasting rooms are beautifully decorated and make the perfect spot to enjoy tequila.
In addition to learning about the tequila making process, distillery tours will immerse you in Mexican history and culture. Many are located at historic hacienda complexes with beautiful architecture. You’ll get a sense for how important the tequila tradition is in Mexico.
Planning Your Visit
Here are some tips for planning a visit to a tequila distillery in Mexico:
- Book tours directly through the distillery website or visitor center in advance, especially during peak seasons.
- Opt for a private or small group tour for a more intimate experience.
- Hire a driver for the day to safely visit multiple distilleries in the Tequila region.
- Ask about any minimum age requirements for tastings.
- Wear comfortable walking shoes as many tours are quite extensive.
- Respect traditions by dressing appropriately – no bathing suits or tank tops.
- Check tour times – some only operate during certain hours.
- Give yourself plenty of time to explore the grounds, visit gift shops, and savor tastings.
With so many excellent distilleries to choose from, it’s worth spending a day or two immersing yourself in the world of tequila on your next trip to Mexico. The distillery tours will give you a whole new appreciation for Mexico’s iconic spirit.
Tequila Distillery Tour FAQs
Can anyone tour a tequila distillery?
Most tequila distillery tours are open to the public, but you’ll need to book ahead of time, often directly through the distillery’s website. Some exclusive small distilleries may limit tours to tequila club members or require special reservations through a concierge. There are usually no restrictions besides needing to arrange your visit in advance.
How much do distillery tours cost?
Prices vary widely, but expect to pay anywhere from $10-50 USD per person for a basic public tour. Larger operations like Jose Cuervo tend to be on the lower end while small craft distilleries charge more. Private premium tours can cost $100-200 or more depending on the experience provided.
Will I get drunk drinking tequila samples?
You’ll definitely try multiple tequila samples, but the pours are generally quite small, under 1 ounce. This allows you to safely taste and compare several products without worrying about overconsumption. Stay hydrated, go slowly, and don’t feel any pressure to drink more than you want.
Can I visit a tequila distillery with kids?
Most distilleries welcome children but have policies regarding tastings. Some don’t allow kids under a certain age while others let minors join tours but don’t serve them alcohol. Contact the distillery directly to confirm their minimum age before booking. Often there are enjoyable activities like grounds tours or soda tastings that kids can take part in.
When is the best time of year to tour a distillery?
Peak season aligns with agave harvest times from winter through spring. During the rainy summer season, some distilleries operate on limited hours. Avoid Mexican holidays when things tend to be closed. Whenever you go, book tours as far in advance as possible.
What should I wear and bring?
Wear casual, comfortable clothes and sturdy shoes suitable for walking around industrial facilities. Bring sun protection like hats and sunglasses for outdoor portions. Have small bills or credit/debit cards for purchasing souvenirs. Feel free to ask questions throughout the tour and take lots of photos!
Tequila Distillery Tour Comparison Table
|Distillery||Location||Tour Length||Tour Type||Price|
|Jose Cuervo||Tequila, Jalisco||1.5 hours||Walking||$30 USD|
|Tequila Herradura||Amatitan, Jalisco||2 hours||Bus driven||$50 USD|
|Casa Sauza||Tequila, Jalisco||2 hours||Walking||$35 USD|
|La Fortaleza||Tequila, Jalisco||1 hour||Walking||$40 USD|
|El Pandillo||Tequila, Jalisco||1.5 hours||Walking||$25 USD|
This table provides an overview of some of the most popular distillery tours in the Tequila region of Mexico. It includes the length, format and pricing to help you select the perfect option for your visit.
Visiting a tequila distillery provides a one-of-a-kind opportunity to see traditional production methods firsthand and taste the finished spirit in its purest form. You’ll gain insight into tequila’s rich history and cultural importance in Mexico. The distilleries of Jalisco offer fascinating tours through scenic agave fields and historic haciendas. From tequila giants like Jose Cuervo to small craft producers, each has their own story and perspective to share. Planning your distillery visit in advance ensures you can partake in this iconic Mexican experience. A day sipping freshly made tequilas in beautiful surroundings is an unforgettable way to discover Mexico’s national drink.