El Gaucho Portland Travels to Mexico for Craft Tequila

The makers of Herradura Tequila say “There are no shortcuts to greatness” so the El Gaucho Portland spirits team took the long way to select an exclusive double aged barrel of Reposado Herradura.  Brian Bower and Brendon Trautman traveled to Guadalajara, Mexico and then journeyed on to the Herradura hacienda distillery in Jalisco where they experienced the entire process of craft tequila making from the agave fields to distillation and barreling to the final tasting. Travel along with Brian and Brendon in their travel diary and join us at El Gaucho Portland for a special taste when the barrel arrives in April.

January 22nd, 10am, Guadalajara, Mexico: Upon arriving at the hacienda, we met one of Herradura’s master tasters, Rubien.  Our visit began with a delicious breakfast of sopes and churros, and we received our first beverage of the day, a canned mix drink called “New Mex,” a tequila-based soda drink along with Mexican coffee.

Rubien has a wealth of knowledge and really made the tour interactive and fun.  We began learning about what made Herradura special. They control every aspect of the production of their tequila, from growing their agave on 20,000 acres of fields, roasting, pressing and juicing the agave, fermentation, distillation, barreling, and bottling.

We initially met a Jimidor, the person responsible for harvesting and trimming down the Agave core to prepare it for roasting. Both Brendon and I had the opportunity to try it ourselves and neither of us cut any of our toes off!  The next step in the process is roasting, so we walked to the ovens and tasted the raw and roasted agave. The change in flavor was incredible.

The roasted agave is then juiced and transported to the open air fermentation tanks. A variety of fruit trees are on the property for the sole purpose of creating a diverse array of native yeast that naturally ferment the agave juice.  After of week of fermentation in open air tanks, the juice goes to distillation.

The original processing facility was built in 1870 and after a tour of this historic site, we were ready to select our barrel.  We were given our choice of three barrels of double barrel aged Reposado Herradura which is aged in both a vintage and a first-fill tequila barrel.  We made our decision based on our goal of creating an expressive group of specialty cocktails and something that would appeal to our cigar smoking clientele.

After selection, we were treated to an amazing lunch, music from an eight piece mariachi band, the full line of Herradura tequilas, Tamarind margaritas, Palomas, and so much food that we all were in need of a siesta after we returned to our hotel in Guadalajara.

Brendan and I are excited to get the batch of tequila in the restaurant and start working with our bar staff to come up with amazing cocktails for our guests!

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