Tequila Tour Day 2: Arandas — Tequila Don Nacho, Tapatio, Cazadores

I woke up today to discover that I didn’t have any toothpaste. That was OK — I just brushed my teeth with Puro Sangre Blanco. Works fairly well and leaves your gums feeling all clean and tingly.

Tequila Don Nacho

Once we herded the cats into the van, we headed to Tequila Don Nacho for a tour and tasting. Tequila Dan Nacho is a small to medium sized distillery that mixes traditional brick ovens with more modern stainless steel double distillation processing. It is actually a very young distillery that is owned by Ignacio Hernandez Gutierrez, known as Don Nacho. While the distillery is young, the family has been growing Agave for many decades and their Agave has an excellent reputation for consistently high quality.

The holidays are the busiest time of the year in the tequila industry. As such, many distilleries shut down for a period of time in October / early November or they will shut down in January. During this time of rest, repairs and upgrades are made.

There is a significant amount of infrastructure associated with a distillery. Beyond the fermentation tanks and stills, you have ovens or autoclaves for roasting, a masher or extractor for pulling the sugars off the roasted agave, and a water processing and heating plant to drive it all. As steam is used in many parts of the tequila making process, distilleries typically have a steam plant and water conditioning plant on site.

Don Nacho was in the process of distilling down some Tequila, but there ovens were offline for annual repairs and upgrades. We were able to taste the product of both the first and second distillation at the natural alcohol-by-volume (ABV) that they came off the stills. Delicious. The product of the first distillation is often somewhere around 30% to 50% ABV and it has a strong vegetal kick; you taste the agave quite strongly. For most companies, the second distillation typically yields about 50% to 70% ABV which is subsequently watered down a bit for bottling.

The Crew at Tequila Don Nacho

We were joined by two of the owner’s sons, who gave us a wonderful tour, shared tequila with us and were all around very warm and welcoming hosts!

Pork at Jaime's in Arandas

From Don Nacho, we then headed to Carnitas Jaime for an awesome lunch. Pork, tortillas, great live traditional music, and a liter of Tapatio Anejo. As I was soon to observe, pretty much every table and every meal included a bottle of tequila shared amongst those at the table.

Always a good bottle, too. And no hesitation to mix it with Squirt, lime juice, spicy tomato juice, or any of a number of other mixers. We all split a bottle of Tapitio Anejo.

Tapatio / El Tesoro Offices & Store

After lunch, it was on to a brief visit at Tapatio / El Tesoro don Felipe. A very traditional distillery, it also happens to be owned by the family that Julio married into. We visited long enough to taste some product that isn’t on the market yet — a extra anejo that was simply spectacular– and to provide opinion regarding future labeling.

Of course, we bough some tequila, too! Not possible to pass up nearly a liter of Tapatio Anejo for less than $30! Just so damned good, that Tequila is. As can be seen in the photo, original label El Tesoro products are also available.

But we would be returning later in the day….

From Tapatio, we hopped back into the bus and headed over to Cazadores. They showed us a very scratched and slightly over-produced video discussing the production and philosophy behind Cazadores. Felt like I was watching the tequila version of MTV. It was interesting, though.

Tequila Cazadores Elk

Once we got through the video, they sat us down with some snacks (Pork Rinds and Chile!!! YUM!) and poured an awesome selection of Cazadores products. It further confirmed that, in Mexico, it is much more common to mix tequila with Fresca, Squirt, fruit juice or Coca-Cola. The slightly aged tequilas — the reposodas — are the most popular type.

Thank you to Tequila Don Nacho and Cazadores. Both places treated us well — very well. Neither distillery was actually open on Monday, both being down for maintenance, etc.. And, yet, they welcomed us in, took us under wing, and taught us a lot about making highlands tequila!

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