Tourism and Tequila: Hitting the Tequila Trail

We've reached a new age of marketing. Traditional forms of print and TV ads aren't making the cut. We can possibly blame the internet for a portion of it. Most of the population is switching from cable network to streaming services and never come across a commercial. Billboards aren't as effective largely in part by the newer generations who have been overexposed to marketing for most of their lives. It doesn't register. The best way to reach new consumers is online through social or influencer marketing or tourism. Most folks still enjoy traveling and will make the pilgrimage to taste some of their favorite alcoholic beverages. Just how popular is the tourism idea? The Kentucky Bourbon Trail attracted over one million visitors, and Napa Valley had about 3.5 million.

The reason they are so successful is they are engaged, upscale, and targeted to the right people. The proven success of the of these destinations is grabbing the attention of the tequila industry. Over the past six years, the Tequila region has grown from 110,000 to 1.2 million. Over half of those who make the commute are Mexican nationals, but the rest of the tourists are from the U.S. Fitting when you consider 60% of global Tequila consumption takes part in the United States. Now the region is creating the infrastructure needed to support more tourists.

What You Need to Know About Tequila

Tequila is a distilled spirit made from Agave tequilana, Weber Blue, blue agave or Agave Azul. The first production of Tequila started over a thousand years ago. The Aztecs created a sour alcoholic drink made from the sweet sap of agave. Initially, it wasn't consumed in celebrations or included in the everyday lifestyle. Instead, it was reserved for religious ceremonies. The Spanish conquistadors came to Mexico's shores, recognized the perks of the beverage, and applied their distillation knowledge to turn it into a spirit.

Today, only five areas of Mexico are legally allowed to produce Tequila. Only 22,000 registered agave farmers are in the DOC Tequila region. The government has strict regulations on Tequila production. Anyone who adheres to these production rules will get to carry NOM number and be authenticated by the Tequila Regulatory Council. The beverage must be made from 51% Blue Agave, aged for at least 14-21 days, made from natural ingredients, and contain a minimum of 38% alcohol.

Visiting Mexico's Tequila Trail

The Tequila Trail is located just outside of Guadalajara. The growing interest in Tequila has generated enough attention for distilleries to start offering tastings and tours. If you're interested in joining you'll need to set aside your initial thoughts about Tequila consumption. It's not about shots followed by salt and lime. The beverages you'll be sipping are nuanced in flavors, and you'll be pleasantly surprised by the style.

Jose Cuervo Express

Along the Tequila Trail, you'll get to visit some globally recognized names in the tequila industry. You can fly into Guadalajara and buy tickets to the Jose Cuervo Express. The train is vintage black and gold. As you pull out of the station be prepared to feel transported back in time as you travel through fields of agave being hand-chopped by cowboys who ride out on horseback. Along the journey, you are treated to more insight into tequila by a tequilier (the equivalent of a sommelier) that you didn't know before. Some gems include knowing whether Tequila is of high quality by rubbing a few drops on your hand. Any sticky residue means sugary substances were added to the mixture.

Before you depart to your first distillery, your tequilier will give you a few tips to savor your drinks. According to tradition, the best way to appreciate tequila is to take in and hold a breath, sip, swallow, then finally breathe out. Follow these steps to eliminate the burn that comes with the drink.

Distilleries on the Tequila Trail

There is a lot to see and do on the Tequila Trail as it includes trips to Tequila, El Arenal, Amatitán, Magdalena, and Teuchitlán. There are many distilleries that include tours and unique experiences for guests. Some distilleries include:

  • La Cofradia - the only distillery with a ceramic factory creating hand-painted custom items.

  • Jose Cuervo - Maybe one of the most recognizable names guests witness the harvesting, production process, and bottling of the drink.

  • Sauza - in addition to tours there is an on-site bar and botanical garden you can visit.

  • Tequila Herradura - the most comprehensive tour of the Tequila making process.

  • El Llano Distillery - a family-owned and operated business since 1900, guests get a chance to see and possibly speak to the master distiller who is often on the premise.

Are you interested in learning more about how Tequila can improve your portfolio? Contact Brindiamo Group to see how our advisers can help.

Additional article resources: Fleming, David. “Upping Tequila’s Tourism Game.” Market Watch, July/August 2017, page 34.

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