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Friday, January 28, 2011

Tequila

Thursday p.m.
After another busy day I'm still trying to catch up.
On Tuesday after leaving El Quelite we went towards La Noria stopping first at the Los Osuna Tequila Distillery. Last year when we went there they were shut down so we didn’t know what to expect. When we got to the parking lot there were a couple of cars there so we hoped we would be in luck. We were. As soon as we had we parked and stepped away from the car a young man jumped up from where he was sitting and offered to give us a private (no one else was there) tour of the distillery.
He first pointed out the beautiful grounds surrounding the distillery. Especially the huge Huanacaxtle trees growing there. The biggest one right in front is over 300 years old.
Tree is native to Mexico and Central America
Then he showed us some of the blue agave that is used to make the tequila. This one has several “sons” “or daughters.”
Blue Agave
Then he told us that Los Osuna tequila had won several awards in the San Francisco World Spirit Competition.

The distillery is family owned and has been in operation since 1876. The family first planted the blue agave used in the process in the 1860s. The agave plant has to grow for seven to eight years before it is harvested. Only the bulb or pineapple of the plant is used to make the tequila.
Pinas waiting to be cooked
The pineapple is put into big in-ground ovens and roasted. This transforms the starch into sugars and softens the fibers of the piñas to facilitate the extraction of their juice.
In-ground oven
The white piñas turn a caramel color while roasting and taste quite good. Very sweet.

Then they are shredded – our guide demonstrated how they used to be shredded. A big concrete/stone wheel pulled by two mules or burros ground them up. The juice flows through a pipe to be fermented.

Old shredding system
A short video of the old shredding process.

video
Now they use a big electric machine to do the job.
New shredder system
The juice then ferments in big wooden barrels for three days.
Fermenting in big barrel - smells kind of good
Then to the first of the two distilling processes. The first process called destronamiento yields a product called ordinary. Here is done in stainless steel tanks. Here it is being tested for its alcoholic content. Usually 40 – 45 percent. Today it was 27% - not enough yet. This leaves the liquid kind of milky and nasty smelling and tasting. Like medicine. Ick.
Measuring the alcoholic content
The second distillation, called rectification, is done in an old wooden distiller. When it reaches 80+% it is ready for further processing. By now it is a clear liquid and smells much better.
Getting closer
This is just a picture of the very old boiler the plant used to use.
Have a picture of new one - but who cares.
Next we walked towards the laboratory building. Here they produce the distilled water that is added to the liquor to lower the alcoholic content within guidelines.
Water producing room
And we got to look into the room where the aging barrels are stored. They use white oak only. And only store the tequila for about three years. The darker the tequila the longer it has been stored.
Oak Barrels for aging tequila
The Blanco, white tequila, has not been aged. It is bottled immediately.
The Añejo, aged tequila has been stored a minimum of one year, but less than three years in the oak barrels.
After our tour we were offered sips of their product. The Driver and I declined but Tom enjoyed a couple of sips.

Just a couple more pictures of the beautiful grounds.
After finishing our tour we continued on to the little town of La Noria.

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