Monday, October 17, 2011

Day 5: Tequila...factory, that is!

I love me some tequila.  So when I found out that there was a tour of the Hacienda Dona Engracia tequila factory I jumped on it.  All I had to say was, "They're going to be giving out samples!" and the hubby was on  (That makes us sound like major alcoholics, but not to worry, alcoholics we are not.  We are merely aspiring spirit and food connoisseurs.  And that makes us sound  I just can't win today!)

Honestly, I was mostly interested in the distilling process of tequila.  I find that you have a greater appreciation for a product when you know the process of how it was made and how much time it takes to make it.  That's the nerd in me.  *Shrugs*  I can't help myself.

Tequila Distillation Process...the overview according to what Arielle remembers from the

Step 1: The Agave Plant
This is an agave plant.  The only part used to make the tequila is in the center of this giant spiny mass.  It takes about 8 years to grow before it is ready to be harvested.
Just to give you an idea of the size of it.  All I could think of as people were walking by was, "Please no one fall into that plant.  That would be ouchie."  Safety first, people!
Agave via my artistic

Step 2: Roast it!
The spine free centers of the agave plant, called pinas, are steamed at a low heat for hours.  The cooking softens up the pinas for juicing and converts the carbohydrates into simple sugars needed for the fermentation process.  At this point a pina tastes very similar to a piece of sugar cane; watery and sweet, yet fibrous.

Step 3: Juice it!
This is the old way of juicing the roasted pinas.  One person would hack up all the pinas into small pieces and the other person would roll over the pieces with the large stone wheel to extract the juices.  Now it's all done by machine.

Step 4: Fermentation.
Just sit back and allow it to ferment.  I'm pretty sure that this place used a natural fermentation process rather than adding in yeast...but don't quote me on that as I am working from memory.

Step 5: Distill it twice.

Step 6: Bottle and age it accordingly.
There are three types of tequila:
  • Blanco- your silver or platinum tequila, not aged.  Great for marga-tinis, one of my personal favorites.
  • Reposado- slightly aged, at least two months in oak barrels, with a golden color.  Called an aged or rested tequila.  For those of you who like a little bit of a smokey bite to your tequila.
  • Anejo- aged, at least a year in oak barrels, with an amber color.  The aging allows for the flavor of the tequila to become smoother, richer, and more complex.  This would be your sipping tequila.
Step 7: Drink and Enjoy!

After a few tequila shots you'll be pulling the fiercest pageant queen