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Casa Herradura

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In Mexico there are a lot of kinds of agave, and depending on the type of agave you can make different drinks. And to make tequila, the agave that is used is called "blue agave." It's the only kind of agave you can use to make tequila. Here we have a "jimador" and this is an agave plant, this is the size that's planted in the field. Once planted you have to wait approximately eight to 10 years for the agave to grow to maturity, like all these agaves. The ripeness of the agave is determined by these, the stalks. This dry stalk is showing it's ready, that the agave is ripe. So, the "jimador" is the one to "jimar" the agave. "Jima" is a Nahuatl word that means to harvest. This is the tool he uses called a "coa." So with the "coa" the "jimador" cuts the stalks to uncover the heart, the heart that we need to continue with the process. The first step is cooking. We have the ovens, they're stone ovens. Each one holds a capacity of 48 tons of agave. So, the ovens are filled with agave by hand. Next, we close the ovens with those wooden gates and steam the agave. And we cook it for about 26 hours at a constant 90 degrees. After the 26 hours, the ovens are opened to let the cooked agave cool. We let it cool for 24 hours so the process takes about two days to cook the agave. We're going to go to this barrel and taste the cooked agave. -"Is it good? Sweet?" --"Like honey." Once we have the cooked agave there, cooled, on this side of the oven we take it out. It's taken out by hand. There we can observe how the men take it out by hand. They put it as you can see on these belts and it is carried ... [inaudible] ... that begins to spin, starts to smash the agave and squeeze the juice. The juice goes over here and the fiber or "gabazo" as we call it goes in the other direction. Here we're going to let it ferment naturally for more or less three to four days. During this time, millions and millions of microorganisms from the environment, what they do is eat the sugar and produce alcohol. That is, nothing is added. The fermentation is 100 percent natural. But after that, it's converted the sugar to more or less seven percent alcohol by volume. Once the juice is fermented, it's sent by tubes to the next stop, distillation. The fermented juice is also called "mosto muerto." This is the juice that's sent through the pipes and we fill those stills with the fermented juice. It's closed and then it gets heated slowly to steam. So we're heating it. When it's really hot it starts to boil. And when the temperature of the still shows more or less 85 to 90 degrees constantly, 90 degrees, 75 to 90 degrees Celcius, that's when the alcohol is slowly evaporated and goes up through the curved tube there, called a "swan neck," and it comes into that pipe. This is a cold water condenser. There the water spins, cools and converts to liquid and you can see it there. After the first distillation, we get a liquid called "ordinary." This liquid isn't tequila because it has 25 percent alcohol and to be tequila it needs at least 35 percent. As it isn't 35 percent it's an ordinary product. What are we going to do? We do another distillation. With this 25 percent product we fill another still to go through the second distillation that's exactly the same as the first but slower. So yeah, after the second distillation we now have tequila blanco. We produce tequila Jimador blanco at 35 percent, tequila Jimador blanco at 38 percent, or tequila Herradura blanco at 46 percent. From this tequila blanco we can produce or make tequilas "reposados" and tequilas "añejos." For that we need barrels. These are barrels of American white oak and are always bought new from Kentucky. Each one has a capacity of 200 liters and we can use a barrel for around 10 years. Logically the barrel changes the color, the smell and the taste of the tequila blanco. The more time it's inside, the darker the color and the smell changes. From herbal tones, vanilla, cinnamon, the flavor of woods, nuts like walnut, hazelnut, et cetera. The more time, the more concentrated the smell and taste. So, if we want to make tequila "reposado," the tequila blanco is left in the barrel a minimum of two months, maximum 11 months. That's a tequila reposado, between two and 11 months, no more, no less. If we want to make añejo, like the word indicates "añejo" means "año" [year]. So the tequila blanco stays in the barrel between one and three years. That's añejo. Well, in March of this year (2006) a new category of tequila was declared and it's called "extra añejo." Well, an extra añejo stays more than three years in the barrel. But here, for a little less than 10 years, we've produced the only extra añejo in México and it's called Selección Supreme de Casa Herradura. It stays more than four years in the barrel. Welcome to the past. We're in the old factory, now a museum. Tequila Herradura was first produced here in 1870. Once cooked and cooled, they took the agave out by hand and placed it here. This is the milling area, meaning the agave was put on the floor with horses around pulling the log by force. This stone weighs two tons. It's called "tahona." The stone rolled and smashed the agave to squeeeze the juice. This place full of holes in the ground is the fermentation area. But here, the temperature is really low and cold. Here, instead of leaving it three or four days they left it around 12 to 15 days. Here we can observe the distillation area. Except there are stills of copper and condensors of stone. The same way they brought the juice by hand, here they filled the still with juice by hand, closed it and put firewood beneath to heat the juice. The same way, once heated it started to boil the juice and then started evaporating the alcohol through these tubes, coming into this stone which was the condensor. This is called "serpentín" [coil]. It went inside the stone, connected to the tube, and surrounded by cold water. The vapor spun through the coil, cooled and converted into liquid. First distillation, remember? "Ordinary" product. With this liquid, they filled another still to go through the second distillation. But here, after the second distillation, there was a man that was called "guardavinos" [wine keeper]. This guy always had a bull horn in his hand. He would take the tequila in the second distillation, he'd have his shots. That's why they called him "guardavinos" [ wine keeper ] because he kept it in his stomach, right? Little by little. After a lot of sips, he'd say "You know, this tequila is done and if it isn't then I'm drunk." And they filled the bottles by hand. So this guy was like a walking lab, with his experience and palate, he knew when tequila Herradura blanco was ready. And they filled the bottles by hand. So, as we can see, the process outside is the same. What's changed is the experience, the force and materials. Pure tequila blanco, pure Herradura blanco was produced here. And they stopped using this factory in about 1970, which means they made tequila Herradura for 100 years.

Video Details

Duration: 9 minutes and 13 seconds
Country: Mexico
Language: Spanish (Spain)
Producer: Nathan Gibbs
Director: Rosario Gibbs
Views: 5,038
Posted by: nathangibbs on Jul 3, 2008

Tour of Casa Herradura in Amatitán, Jalisco, México -- Cross-posted with full transcripts

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