I was just in Mexico video recording the 75th anniversary of EL Viejito, which is a very small tequila making company in Guadalajara, and I was amazed to see the work ethic, the quality, and the volume of product this company produced.
The interesting thing about tequila is that most Americans who have drunk tequila have drunk an impure variety that’s not one hundred percent blue Agave tequila. In other words, they have bought the brands popular in the US that are mixed with corn liquor—which is why a lot of people have experienced hangovers from drinking tequila. There’s a lot of corn in Mexico—it’s one of their number one crops and it is used for many different things including corn tortillas and corn chips—so it’s natural to make corn liquor through the same fermentation process that they use for just about any type of liquor. However, many of the tequila brands that Americans have drunk are made from tequila that is mixed with the corn distilled liquor, which is what makes you sick. So if anyone reading this has drunk tequila and has sworn it off and said they would never drink it again, consider the fact that true tequila consists of one hundred percent blue Agave and is made only in certain regions in Mexico.
The other interesting thing that I discovered about this 75 year-old business is that they supplied tequila to many major bottlers including Cabo Wabo; which is a tequila marketed by Sammy Hagar. EL Viejito also supplies Patrón; one of America’s most expensive and most pure blue Agave tequila with about fifty percent of what Patrón bottles and distributes sold in the United States. One of the reasons Patrón costs so much money is that it is made with one hundred percent blue Agave. Agave is an almost Aloe Vera type looking plant. It’s not a cactus, but the Agave do grow in the ground., It almost looks like a pineapple when it’s cleaned up. I actually had a chance to film EL Viejito’s entire process, from delivery of the Agave, to splitting the Agave, to putting it into a room filled with steam supplied from a boiler (which pressure cooks it). I even tasted some of it. It’s very sweet—there are a lot of bees in that area because of the sweetness. From there the Agave is loaded onto a conveyer belt and goes through four distinct presses that squeeze all of the syrup out of the it before it becomes compost. These four presses squeeze the juice out and the juice is what goes into the tequila making process. The remains are put back into the ground as fertilizer.
The fact that I would like to share in this blog post that is probably the most amazing is the work ethic and the family-like environment of EL Viejito. Some of the workers have been employed with this distillery for up to 30 years. People on an assembly line fill the bottles by hand. The tequila then goes to the next part of the assembly line where the labels and the caps are actually put on by hand. They are then put into the box which is sealed with tape. The box then goes onto a skid and it’s hand wrapped with saran wrap to keep it from falling off during shipment. Even more interesting, EL Viejito’s sales have increased by one hundred percent in the last year. Their great success could probably be attributed to their work ethic.
Working with EL Viejito was a wonderful experience. I hope that going away from reading this blog post, you give tequila another try. If you do, look for the one hundred percent blue Agave tequila.