I learned more about tequila on that tour than I thought there was to know. After 7 years of growth the "pineapple", it does resemble one, of the plant is harvested to create the brew. It is the pod from which the leaves grow above and the roots below. These are placed in large ovens and steamed for 48 hours. This is all explained to us by a slim young man wearing fashionably ripped jeans tucked into combat boots. The "pineapples" are then put through a device that mashes them into a pulpy liquid and placed in vats to ferment. The pulp falls to the bottom of the vats and the liquid on top is siphoned off for distilling. After distilling some of the tequila is bottled immediately. This is the Tequila Blanco, or loosely translated white tequila. Some is stored in wooden barrels and allowed to age from 1 to 5 years. The casks are kept underground in large caves to prevent evaporation. We were led through a dark space lined with the barrels stacked high on each side. The tequila takes on a woody flavor reminiscent of aged scotch. It deserves to be savored rather than downed quickly as a shot. The barrels are re purposed, sometimes used to manufacture charming folk art loveseats, tables and sideboards. At the distillery there is a chapel where the pews are all created from used casks. The agave fields are allowed to rest for one year between harvesting and replanting. Sometimes they are sown with corn or beans to help replenish the soil.
The name of this distillery was Spanish for Three Daughters. The owner has three daughters. One apparently is named Esmeralda. The name appears worked out in wrought iron above the entrance to the cave. Although we use the French spelling, Ezmerelda is also the name of our pampered cat. It seemed the perfect photo op!