Posted on Friday, November 18th, 2011 in Stories
Suzanne and I in an agave field in Mexico, 1981
Whenever I think of Mexico, certain images come to mind — bullfights, sunsets the color of enchiladas, Pancho Villa, and, always, tequila. Although I gave up on strong drink many years ago, I still respect the historical and cultural significance of this beverage that for so long has quenched the thirsts of so many people. Each year, tens of millions of gallons of tequila are distilled for imbibers in the United States, Canada, Japan, Europe, and, of course, Mexico.
No other spirit is as clouded by mystery and myth. This drink that is fit for gods or outlaws is highly appreciated but greatly misunderstood. More lies have been told about tequila than about Billy the Kid, Bigfoot, and George Custer. After years of chasing tequila fables, I realized that finding the truth about tequila is as difficult as capturing lighting in a jar. Tequila is awash in exaggerations and tales that leave most serious drinkers scratching their heads.
Many years ago, I learned the truth about tequila when Suzanne and I briefly lived in Guadalajara. During our stay in that beautiful city, we became friends with members of the Romo family, since 1870 the distillers of one of the most respected tequilas in Mexico — Tequila Herradura. We were delighted to spend quality time at San Jose del Refugio, the Casa Herradura hacienda near the ancient village of Amatitan in the state of Jalisco, deep in the heart of Mexico’s prime tequila-producing region. It was there we toured the vast fields of agave, the monstrous plants that provide juices that eventually become tequila. There we found out that at Casa Herradura uses only 100 percent blue agave and that after the big hearts, or core, of the plants are harvested, the resulting juice is only mixed with water during the fermentation process. Afterward this mix is distilled not just once but twice. At no time are additives such as sugars and colorings introduced. It is this special attention to tradition that has made Herradura one of the most respected of all the tequilas.
It seems that the blue horseshoe — Herradura in Spanish — that adores every bottle, has brought plenty of good luck. At least we think so.