La Fortaleza Distillery Visit
Drinking Pulque in Teochitlan, Mexico

A Visit to the Sauza Distillery in Tequila, Mexico

Today on the Tahona Society trip to the tequila regions of Mexico we visited the distillery of Sauza. Yesterday's visit to La Fortaleza was an example of the most primitive/traditional production methods for tequila. Today at Sauza we say the most high-tech.

I last visited Sauza about a year ago, and that post on Alcademics is here, and probably a bit more thorough than this one. Unfortunately we weren't allowed to take pictures in most of the distillery, so mostly text will have to do.

Sauza uses what they call "soft extraction" of the sugars from agave plants. While almost every tequila maker bakes agave plant hearts (pinas) then crushes the baked plants to extract the fermentable sugars from the plants, at Sauza first they crush the plants then they cook the liquid.

The agave is first run through a big roller mill, and then a diffuser, a huge machine that specializes in getting the most of the sugars out of agave. Then this liquid is cooked at 120 degrees Celsius for 4-5 hours.

This sugary liquid is then fermented super fast- 24 to 26 hours- then it is distilled.

Distillation for Sauza products takes place first in a column still, where they distill up to anywhere from 24 to 35 percent alcohol depending on the product, and then in a copper-lined stainless steel still up to 56-65%.

An interesting fact I learned on this trip is about their mixto tequila - tequila distilled from the fermented sugars of at least 51% agave and 49% other sugars, usually sugar cane. However at Sauza, where they do use the minimum 51/49 percent ratio, the sugar used is corn syrup, not sugar syrup.



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I believe all the sped-up production techniques yield a spirit that is best drunk "sped up" as well..


The "other sugar" source in mixto varies along with commodity prices. Cane is relatively expensive right now, and just a few years ago US high-fructose corn syrup began entering Mexico tariff-free. So many large mixto producers are now using HFCS. Salud!


I agree with Lippy. The producers using traditional methods spend a lot more time to ensure qualitiy. I visited Fortaleza last week and am happy to see Guillermo Sauza (5th generation) has maintained the traditional method at his small-batch factory in the town of Tequila. There is a world of difference in the final product!

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