Puerto Vallarta was beautiful. Though hot the bay breezes were constant and the local foilage provided plenty of shade.
It seemed like every tree at the resort and surrounding area provided some type of fruit or vegetable. My parents and I took a culture tour which went into some of the nearby towns visiting both a cattle ranch and a tequila processing plant.
The first stop was for a almond tree. The “almond” is encased in a large green shell, which turns red when the fruit is ripe. Apparently the locals will eat the flesh around the inner seed pod and then dry the remains for three days and then crack it open to get to the nut.
The outer flesh was rather bitter and earthy tasting.
Off to the next stop, the tequila plant. It has been in operation for almost a century. The agave farm was on a different location but all the processing took place there. Tequila making was more involved than I originally thought.
First the agave plant is harvested by jimadors, who cut off the nearly 200 agave leaves to reveal the heart of “pina.” It takes nearly 15 pounds of piña to make one liter of tequila.
Next the Pinas are put into steel autoclaves where the carbs are converted to simple fermentable sugars.
The cooked pinas are crushed to extract the juice (aguamiel). Traditionally this took place in a tahoma, where a large stone pillar crushed the pinas in a circular pit.
Fermentation takes 7-12 days. Which is followed by distillation. Most tequila is distilled two times, a few go through three. The first disruption produced 20% alcohol content and the second reaches 55%.
The best part, of course, was the testing portion of our trip. They had six tequilas available: a standard clear, reposado( aged 2-12 months), anjeos (aged 1-3 years), peach, almond, and coffee. Our guide taught us the “right” way to drink tequila.
First you take a deep breath in through the nose, then exhale. Without breathing you drink the tequila. Once you feel the burn at your clavicle you should take a deep breathe in and then slowly breathe out through your mouth and nose.
To be honest, it tasted the same no matter how you drank it.