Kelly's 2012 Mexico Tequila Tour

March 05 - Viva Mexico and Pura Vida distilleries

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Morning came early, when, at 4:10 I felt some internal rumblings. No, it wasn't just hunger pangs. It was the onset of something I'd hoped to avoid. Clearly I'd eaten something I shouldn't have, and it was taking retribution. Something about Montezuma?

After a little more sleep, and the usual morning preparations, I met Zach from the tour down in the lobby. We set out to find breakfast somewhere. We got carrot/mango juice drinks, which tasted wonderful. A little further, we ran across a bakery, and got some nice items with fruit. They weren't enough for the growing boy, so we headed back to a place he'd spied. After a little fumbling with language, he'd ordered a bowl of pork in a nice sauce. Despite my not being hungry, they brought a bowl for me as well. I tried some, but was already full. I hope I didn't leave them with the impression that I didn't like it!

Back to the hotel, and about 5 minutes before we were to pull out, I realized I was about to have a repeat of the early morning episode. That taken care of, we set out.

This time I stuck the GoPro camera (ordinarily used as my helmet-cam on a motorcycle) to the window of the bus. While the shots aren't spectacular, they're something. And they do give some record of what we passed through.

As the agave fields got more frequent, we knew we were close to Arandas, our stop for the day. We headed to distillery 1414, the home of Pura Vida, Viva Mexico, buscadores, and a handful of others. This was a more traditional place- It used stone ovens, and open-top fermentation. The latter being the reason for the "sweat socks" or mushroom aroma from brettanomyces bacteria in the products. Interestingly, they were blasting classical music. The master distiller said that they do this as it makes the "yeast dance," making a more complete fermentation. It wasn't just a cute idea- He said they'd tried it with and without the music, and the results are noticeably different. Just before tasting, I made a quick dash to the restroom. This was already getting old. On the bright side, it so far was only a mild inconvenience, not something that was interfering with the trip.

We tasted all the Pura Vida products, including the new extra anejo, which isn't yet released in the U.S. It was excellent! Which actually surprised me a little, as I previously thought felt the Pura Vida tequilas were too sweet for my taste. But all was well, and I even wound up elevating the previous rankings of them. They were better than I'd remembered. Pura Vida is the brand endorsed by Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top fame.

We also tasted some Viva Mexico tequila, and I liked it. The master distiller brought out some bottles of it which had been signed by the owner, and added his signature at our request. Now, this bottle would likely sell for around $25, but he asked only about $10 for each! Additionally, for those of us who threw in more than the requested $10, he gave us a bottle of the Pura Vida extra anejo! This would sell for around $100 in the 'States! We were aghast, and marvelled at his generosity and hospitality.

The other distillery we'd planned to tour had something come up, so we wandered around the town of Arandras. It is a pleasant place, and we found a wonderful taqueria. I managed to eat 6 tacos, a quesadilla, and a soda. Two Al Pastor tacos without cheese, two with, one Chorizo, and one Beef. The quesadilla (called a "gringo") was Al Pastor as well. The food was amazing, and only set me back about $6.50! I did wonder however, whether those selections would come back to haunt me later.

After meandering around the town awhile longer, we headed back to the bus. Passing the same taqueria, Rachel, our fearless leader, ducked in to use the restroom. Imagine our surprise to run into Carlos Camarena, of El Tesoro, Tapatio, Excellia, and Tequila Ocho fame! We'd hoped to get in touch with him, and I haven't seen him for almost two years. With luck, we'll tour his distillery. We told Carlos where we'd just visited, and he asked us if 1414 was up and running production. We said no, that we were told they were doing some maintenance. A wry smile on his face said there was something more to the story. It turns out the CRT (Tequila Regulatory Council) was climbing all over 1414, and Carlos said they'd been temporarily halted with some "big problems." It could be that the bottles we obtained might be more rare than we'd ever have imagined.

Upon arrival back at our hotel, we dropped off our belongings, I made yet another "bio break," and did some computer work. The wireless is quite poor here, and it's hard to upload photos.

With all the batteries charging and the photos moved from the cameras to the laptop, we set out to see what we could see in our little town of Tepatitlan. There was a Black Sabbath cover band playing in the square, and even doing a respectable job of it. I found some much-needed gatorade to replenish lost electrolytes, and we found more tacos. I kept my intake to only two this time. It should be noted that REAL Mexican tacos are tiny things- Only two bites each, three at the most. And they're only 5 pesos, roughly $0.39 each!



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Agave field
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Our bus
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Viva Mexico
distillery
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Owner and Master
Distiller
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Roasting Ovens
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Roasting Ovens
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Roasting Ovens
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Conveyor to
shredder
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Shredder
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Agave tank
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Fermentation
tanks
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Fermentation
tanks
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Fermentation
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Fermentation
tanks
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Distillation
tanks
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Condensation
tanks
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Aging barrels
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Aging barrels
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Aging barrels
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Tasting
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Going to seed
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Decorative Bricks
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Great Tacos
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Low-key
restaurant
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Low prices
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Hospital
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