The phone rang and I was surprised to hear I would be traveling to Guadalajara, Mexico. Why? My partner, Doug Jeffery, and his associate, Rafael Loza, were creating a new tequila brand, Imperio Real. As much of the world’s tequila is created near Guadalajara, we would be traveling throughout the region visiting different distilleries to learn about the fine art of tequila making.
While I was familiar with Guadalajara, I didn’t know much about this area of Mexico or what it had to offer. However, I soon found out that Guadalajara is the capital and largest city in the state of Jalisco. It is also considered the cultural capital of Mexico as this area is home to mariachi music and to a number of international events such as the Guadalajara International Film Festival, the Guadalajara International Book Festival and the Pan American Games of 2011.
The first thing I noticed about the city is how pristine it is as I didn’t see a single piece of trash anywhere. For tourists, it is good to know that many of the locals speak English and maneuvering about the city as a non-Spanish-speaking person was completely doable. We were also surprised to find out how strong the American dollar is to the peso. At approximately 18 to 1, now is the ideal time to visit Mexico because you will definitely get more bang for your buck! For example, dinner with wine for four at an upscale restaurant averaged $40.00 with tip!
Our first stop was to two tequila distilleries just outside of Guadalajara: Tres Mujeres and Puerta de Hierro. Here, we learned that tequila is made from the blue agave plant and only created in this region of the world. In fact, Mexican laws state that tequila can only be produced in Jalisco, Guanajuato, Michoacan, Nayarit and Tamaulipas. After harvesting the blue agave, it is baked, shredded, and fermented. It is then distilled up to three times to produce the tequila that makes this region so famous.