BlogTequila Goddesses Take a Trip to Mexico & Bring Home Custom Barrel
Two women posing in front of a sculpture of the word tequila

Tequila Goddesses Take a Trip to Mexico & Bring Home Custom Barrel

La Hacienda's Tequila Goddesses Hand-Select New Exclusive Barrel

Berkeley Alvarado, Tequila Goddess

A friend recently asked me about working at this restaurant: Do I spend all my time traveling the world, sipping on the finest tequilas available? Well, I answered, not all of my time. It's true though: as one of La Hacienda's Tequila Goddesses, I am very lucky to discover new drinks and dishes and be able to share those with our guests daily.

But one perk is in fact learning more about tequila and the beautiful regions and people from which it comes from—the most recent of which being a trip to Jalisco, Mexico with my fellow Tequila Goddess, Christine Lord. I look back on this time with fond memories, and look forward to the arrival of our new custom tequila barrel—exclusively available to guests who visit La Hacienda in our hometown of sunny Scottsdale, Arizona. Take a trip down memory lane with us to learn a little more about our very favorite spirit and exactly how we selected our private barrel.

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Q: Tell Us More About Your Trip, Where Did You Go?

A: "We flew into Guadalajara and our final destination was the town, aptly named, Tequila. We visited El Tequileno distillery and Fortaleza distillery."

Q: Which Distillery Was Your Favorite, And Why?

A: "To me, it is difficult to pick a favorite because they were both different and unique in their own ways. Fortaleza technique is the same exact way they started 150 years ago. To see the original ways of making tequila was amazing. El Tequileno uses yeast from 150-year-old mango trees that were right outside our hotel. So beautiful to see." -Berkeley

A: "Our barrel program is through El Tequileno and they have a close relationship with the distillery Fortaleza so we were fortunate to tour them both. What an experience! Our hotel, Casa Salles, was literally steps from the El Tequeleno distillery. We could smell agave cooking the whole time and see the pinas in the truck waiting to be cooked. Both are historic distilleries that have been in their families for generations. They are two of the four distilleries in all of Mexico that can use the volcanic spring water in their tequila making process. There was even a big meeting with really well-known names in the tequila industry about the water at our hotel the day we left! At Fortaleza, we were able to tour the property and see the use of the Tahona wheel (a volcanic stone wheel that is rolled over the cooked agave plant to extract the sugars) and finished the tour in underground caves for a tequila tasting. At El Tequileno, our tour was guided by Master Distiller Tony Salles (third generation) and we got to see the roller mill, autoclaves (ovens for cooking the agave) which used to be train cars. We were shown special areas in the distilleries that only employees get to see!" -Christine

Q: You Both Have An Extensive Knowledge Of Tequila. Was There Anything You Were Surprised To Learn?

A: "When it comes to distilling tequila, it is always done at least twice. What I did not know is there is a 'head, body, and tail' that goes through the copper pots. You only want to use the 'body' of the tequila." -Berkeley

A: "Prior to this trip I had never seen an open-air fermentation tank; it had yeast bubbling inside. I also saw a scientist with an entire state-of-the-art lab measuring the quality and consistency of the Tequila at El Tequileno. That was pretty cool, I had no idea that existed. Not all distilleries have the capability to do that." -Christine

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Q: How Did You Select La Hacienda's New Barrel? What Makes It Special?

A: "We had a tasting of six different tequilas. We all went through each tequila, smelling the aromas and tasting them blind. We compared and contrasted all to one another. Immediately we arrived at a favorite, which was barrel 9. It was exactly what we both wanted. This tequila is a Reposado aged for 4 months in Kendall Jackson Chardonnay French oak barrels. Amazing flavors of caramel, honey, and vanilla that gives it just the right amount of sweetness, but still allowing the cooked agave to continue to shine through. It is such a high-quality bottle—perfect for new tequila drinkers or the tequila connoisseurs. We are so proud and cannot wait for everyone to try! We chose this barrel with our guests in mind!"

Q: What Do You Think Is The Most Interesting Part Of The Tequila Creation Process?

A: "The most interesting part of the tequila process in my eyes is the crushing of the agave hearts or 'pinas'. When crushing, you are extracting the sugars which is the natural flavor of tequila." -Berkeley

A: "The most interesting part of the tequila making process is how every little detail matters. The location of the agave field, the elevation, the water source, the yeast they use, how the agave is cooked, how it is crushed, where it ferments, what they barrel it in. It is all so fascinating!" -Christine

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Q: Can You Explain What Is Happening In Some Of Your Travel Pictures? Specifically The Ones With The Large Mud Pit?

A: "Aside from the gorgeous artwork and views of the town, many of the pictures showcase the different processes that go into making tequila. The fields of agave plants to start. Chopping them down to the pinas that are round and almost look like pineapples. Crushing the agaves in either the pit with the giant tahona wheel that they roll for hours or the milling machine that crushes the pinas as well, just a different way. They add volcanic spring water to help get them down to the consistency they want. Fermentation is after that, which is in the giant barrel or the rectangular open vat. From there is distillation which were the copper pots. And then of course the aging in all of the stacked barrels."

Q: What Was The Most Memorable Part Of The Trip?

A: "Selecting our custom barrel for La Hacienda was my favorite. Tasting the various options and then nailing down exactly what we wanted was a dream. I also enjoyed exploring the town of Tequila. To see the culture and history makes you never want to leave." -Berkeley

A: "The most memorable part of the trip for me was definitely picking our barrel alongside Master Distiller Tony Salles." -Christine

Q: What Is One Thing You Bring Back From This Trip To Your Guests At La Hacienda?

A: "I cannot wait to share the wonderful memories I made with our guests! Specifically the love and passion that goes behind-the-scenes while making tequila. I get asked all the time if I have ever been to Jalisco, so now I am able to say I've experienced it all." -Berkeley

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A: "I have gained so much from this trip. I was shown so much hospitality and encountered so many kind and passionate people. I learned about a culture and a way of life. I will always try to convey that to our guests. Most importantly, I learned about 'Tequila Time' similar to 'Island Time'. A time zone or way of life where only your company and the spirits you're sipping matter. Schedule and routine come secondary." -Christine

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El Tequileno was established in 1959 in honor of the birthplace of tequila. One of the most historic and well-revered tequila distilleries in the world, El Tequileno was the perfect partner in creating La Hacienda's new hand-crafted barrel. So, when will we be pouring our exclusive El Tequileno barrel for guests to taste? Follow us on Facebook and Instagram to be one of the first to know.

Want to continue the conversation and expand your tequila knowledge? Visit our Tequila Goddesses at La Hacienda any time by reserving a table!