Touring the Tequila Cazadores Distillery: Does Listening To Mozart Make For Better Tequila?
To understand the story of Mexico, one must look at Tequila, a beverage that earned its roots from the Aztec goddess of agave Mayahuel, all the way to the early 1900s when Mexican revolutionaries took the drink as a sign of rebellion and strength. After thousands of years of growth and development, today, tequila represents the modernization of Mexico.I journeyed to Arandas in the highlands of Jalisco with a group of journalists to see the process of one of Mexico's finer brands, Cazadores.
Indeed, Tequila Cazadores' three labels together constitute the #1 selling premium tequila brand in the world. We began in Guadalajara, the capital of Jalisco, already, 5,000 ft above sea level, and drove two and a half hours further up into the mountains. The farther out of the city we drove, the greater abundance of blue agave fields we saw, entering into the Agave Trail, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. And the farther up we drove, the redder the soil became, each mile out achieving a greater and deeper shade, revealing the high concentration of iron and minerals in the soil, resulting in a sweeter and less fibrous agave plant. Tequilas from the highlands tend to contain more fruit notes such as citrus, pear and orange, while tequilas from the lowlands tend to have more herbal flavors such as mint and grass.
A unique tequila undoubtedly is made through a unique process. At Cazadores, after the agave cores are cooked under 24 hot waterfalls, they are sent to the mill where they are cut, shredded and squeezed. The agave juice is fermented for four days with yeast in steel vats, without any chemicals or preservatives. And in the tradition of Cazadores creator Jose Maria Bañuelos, the fermenting juice must listen to classical music. A firm believer in the Mozart effect, aimed to create harmonious vibrations in the fermenting juice. Indeed, yeast is very sensitive to sound. Talk or shout into a vat and the yeast moves. With Mozart playing around the clock, the music had a soothing effect on the yeast to create the most desirable must, or agave juice.
Gallery: Cazadores in Arandas
To go beyond Cazadores silver, one must venture into aging room. Imagine a warehouse full of pyramids of American white oak barrels. After breathing in the aroma of aging oak and fresh tequila, it was impossible not to want to bottle up the scent in the room. Here the reposado barrels, aged for two months to a year, were labeled impeccably next to añejo barrels which were left to absorb the gorgeous oak aromas for up to three years. Once out of the barrels, the reposados and añejo blends are distilled a third time.
Cazadores is also experimenting with their first Extra Añejo, which means the barrels are left to age for over three years. Extra Añejo is perhaps the trickiest of tequila blends. Unlike scotch or bourbon, the agave flavor in tequila is a powerful note that shouldn't be overpowered by the oak flavor of the aging process. Master distillers must find the perfect blend between agave and wood. In order to keep their aged tequilas fresh, Cazadores toasts their barrels every four years and discards them after seven.
The tour ended with a peak inside of their in-house laboratory where four professional tasters work around the clock to ensure each batch is up to standards. The Cazadores distillery provides complimentary tours to groups or individuals when booked in advance.
My visit to Jalisco was sponsored by Tequila Cazadores, but the opinions expressed in the article are 100% my own