Nothing says ‘luxury in Mexico” quite like laying on a chaise lounge overlooking the azure blue sea, taking in the sun’s rays with a perfectly shaken margarita in your hand.
That margarita is more than a drink, it’s an experience, taking you to a warm sandy beach with every sip. If you’re already planning on jet-setting to Los Cabos to indulge in an opulent vacation, what better way to spend an evening, or afternoon, than tasting the spirits that encapsulate the region?
A Taste of History
Tequila has a long history in North America — it was the first distilled spirit to be produced on the continent, and has been made in Mexico since the early 1500s. Though it is readily available throughout the country, most tequila producers are located in the namesake town of Tequila, in Jalisco State, about 65 kilometers north-west of Guadalajara.
According to legend, the spirit was discovered when a blue agave, the plant from which tequila is made, was struck by lightning before being blessed by the goddess of agave, Mayahuel.
As coveted as the spirit itself, tequila bottles have become a collector’s item and a sign of prestige among connoisseurs. Bottles are often hand-crafted and can be made of hand-blown glass, crystal, ceramic, or in the case of the $3,500,000 Ley .925 Ley Diamant (the most expensive tequila bottle in the world) two kilos of platinum, and 4,100 white diamonds.
Off the Shelf
Tequila is made from the sap produced by the blue agave plant, which is fermented and distilled for roughly nine years before being used. There are five categories of tequila, each varying by color and age.
Blanco (silver, white) — This is the purest form of the spirit. Un-aged, it will appear clear, and taste of the true, intense flavors of the agave plant.
Joven (gold) — These tequilas are typically a mix, where colorants and flavorings have been added (often with caramel). This is the most common form of tequila used in bars for shots and mixed drinks.Reposado (rested) — This tequila has been aged in oak barrels or a storage tank for anywhere between two and 11 months. The color takes a golden hue, and a woodsy flavor develops.
Añejo (aged) — Tequila earns the title of añejo after aging for at least one year, in barrels with a strict limit of 600 liters. The spirit deepens to an amber hue, becoming smoother and richer in taste.
Extra añejo (extra aged) — This classifications only appeared in 2006, and entails the same details as Añejo Tequila, but has been aged for over three years. It develops a much darker color, with a flavor so rich it must be diluted with distilled water, making it extremely smooth. Keep in mind, tequila is meant to be sipped; if you need a lime and some salt, you should try a different bottle.
Get in the Spirit
With tequila the non-official official drink of Mexico, tasting opportunities are bountiful. For a truly immersive experience, the Tequila & Ceviche Bar at Las Ventanas offers an unparalleled selection of Mexican tequilas, including some of the most expensive the country has to offer. Consult the bar’s “tequila masters,” who will help you determine a tequila to perfectly match your preferences. You can also indulge in a one-on-one blind tasting.
If a craving for tequila strikes while walking the streets of San Jose del Cabo, head to Habanero’s Gastro Grill & Tequila Bar. Not only is the food authentically delicious, but they hold an extensive tequila collection. Their knowledge earned them an expertise award from the Mexican Tequila Regulatory Agency. Just make sure you have driver booked to take you back to your villa.If you’re looking to tour the tequila making process and visit a blue agave field, you’re going to have to head to the mainland to the state of Jalisco. The Jose Cuervo Express train departs weekly from Guadalajara takes you through the town of Tequila, and tours their distillery. Children stay occupied playing games and exploring the trail while those of age enjoy the many samples given along the way.