Tequila Tasting Vallarta

Okay, so I know this is what you've been waiting for. I have always prefered tequila to beer or wine, so it was a no-brainer that tequila tasting would be on the agenda when we got to the tequila capital of the world. We ended up with a free "city tour" after listening to a time share presentation (which is the topic of my next blog). The city tour was pretty pathetic actually. We got picked up from our hotel in the South and traveled all of the way across town to the hotels in the North to pick up passengers. We stopped at a mess of resorts where we waited for the passengers to join us. The driver encouraged us to get off the bus and take a look at the resorts since we would have to wait 10-15 minutes before we departed. Weren't we surprised when two hours later we drove right by our resort and started the tour. Okay, so needless to say we were a bit frustrated by that point, but nothing that a good eduction about tequila couldn't remedy. There are a lot of places where you can do some tequila tasting including downtown on the Malecon. They will even give you some education on the tequila making process. You can also take a trip out to Tequila, Mexico if you want to say you've been there. In all fairness, I have not been out there, but now that I've spent 5 summers in Puerto Vallarta, I don't feel the need to spend a whole day driving to Tequila to get the same tour I can get just Souh of town. We have a few of our favorite artisen locations. The names change depending on which family member is running the place each year, so I'm going to give you directions to one instead. Head South to Mismaloya. Before you cross the bridge there is a road to the left. It goes up or down. Take the down side. There are some pretty big speed bumps, so be cautious. You will know you are on the right road because there is a statue of a giant crocodile on the right side. The road drops down and then heads up again. After it heads up it takes a turn to the left. Look for the distillery parking area on the left as you head up the hill. Tour buses do stop here, so although the road is probably more rustic then you see back in the states it is plenty passable. The reason I like this place is that they actually distill tequila right there on site. You get to see all parts of the process except the harvesting of the blue agave. Although most of the resorts and tourist areas have some blue and/or green agave as part of the landscaping, it actually absorbs too much salt from the sea and isn't used for distilling. All of the agave comes from inland near Tequila or Guadalajara. The artisen tequilas really are much better than then mass produced, but you will pay for that taste. Well worth it for a bottle of nice sipping tequila. Some of the artisen distillers still use ovens to bake the Agave, some use pressure cookers. There is a subtle difference in the taste. If you are a fan of silver or white tequila then this will probably make a bigger difference. I prefer aged tequila. The biggest difference to me is the type of barrel it is rested in and how long it spends in that barrel?  Sound familiar? It is the same distinction for a good wine. When you're tasting, make sure you ask what type of barrel it was aged in. This will help you determine your personal preference. Most are aged in oak from Scotland, France, or the US. My personal preference is the French White Oak. I can pick it out of a line up of tequilas. It just has a smoother taste for me. Everyone has different tastes though, so you will need to determine what you like best and don't be surprised if it is different than someone else in your party. The server will have you try silver, reposado (rested a short time) and anejo (rested a longer time). I love a good anejo, but if I can get a reposado that was rested in French white oak I am even happier. I don't know who bottles for Costco, but the Anejo is as good as anywhere else, even as a sipping tequila. Ask the server to taste the same agedness from different barrel choices, then try differrent agednesses (is that a word?). Okay, now for my favorite tequila samples in town. There is a store on the Malecon that I think has about the most knowledgable servers and doesn't even bring up time shares. Some of the stores have servers that get commissions from restaurants, time shares, taxi drivers, zip line companies, etc. and will make your tasting experience less than fun. Which it should be fun. Afterall, you are drinking for free!  Oh, did I mention that Costco samples alcohol?  If you're lucky they are sampling tequila, but the rum samples are good too. So other than their knowledge and lack of pushiness, I like this store because it is where our local friends go if they want an upscale tequila, they offer a multibottle discount, and they bubble wrap for packing. The store is on Libertad. There are two stores across from each other. The one on the North side of the street is the one I'm talking about. They have a better variety of flavored tequilas than any other store. My personal favotite is the guanabana tequila. That is what I bring home as gifts for everyone and what they request year after year. And, NO OTHER STORE SELLS IT!!! Other stores sell infusions but not this flavored tequila. They also have a cave rested tequila that is exceptional and is about the same price as the artisen tequilas. They will let you taste until you need a designated driver and answer questions tirelessly. They remember us from year to year and are never pushy. You can always drop us a note on twitter @beachcrossers, on facebook @beachcrossers or on Google+ @beachcrossers or stop by our website at beachcrossers.com and send me a personal note to terrie@beachcrossers.com. I'm happy to answer questions. 

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