A popular day trip from Puerto Vallarta is to the town of Tequila. It’s about 4 hours away depending on your route, making it a perfect overnight trip—especially if you will be drinking. Here is what you need to know before you go.
What Tequila Has In Common With Champagne
In order for bubbly to be named Champagne it must be grown in the Champagne growing region of France otherwise it is just a sparkling wine. A similar classification is true for Tequila, as it must be distilled from the blue agave growing regions—most of which are in the state of Jalisco. However, small sections of the surrounding states of Nayarit, Michoacán, and Guanajuato and a small growing region on the Mexican east coast in Tamaulipas can also produce authentic tequila. Since approximately 80% of Tequila is grown and distilled in the city of Tequila making it a popular tourist destination.
Not All Tequila Is Created Equally
You certainly don’t have to go to the city of Tequila to sample a wide range of Tequila, as there are many tasting spots in Puerto Vallarta. In fact, we taste quite a few on our Mex-ology food and drink tour. However, not all tequila is created equally. While the fruity and flavored Tequila that you find in and around PV is fun, and a unique gift or souvenir—there are different classifications of tequila. As with many other liquors, it’s has a lot to do with maturation. Blanco or silver tequila can be served shortly after the distillation process and is often used for margaritas and mixed drinks. Reposado is aged in an oak barrel for 2 to 12 months, making it ideal for sipping or mixing. If sipping be sure to let it aerate for a bit first. Añejo and extra-añejo are aged in oak barrels for 12 months or more and have an oakiness and are more common for sipping.
Mezcal Is Not Tequila
Think of Mezcal (or Mescale) similar to how you would compare sparkling wine to Champagne—similar but certainly not the same. Tequila is a Mezcal but Mezcal is not Tequila just like Champagne is a sparkling wine but sparkling wine is not Champagne. Mezcal is also made from agave but can be made from over 25 different types of agave, including the blue agave plant—which Tequila must be made from. However, processing and distillation are quite a different process. The classifications of blanco, reposado, and Añejo are the same. Overall, Mezcal has a bit more of a smoky flavor when compared to Tequila. It can be stronger depending on the proof, which is up to 110 proof. The worm that you sometimes find in a bottle of tequila (which is actually a moth larva that grows on agave plants) originated in Mezcal bottles as a marketing ploy—and was adopted by many tequila brands.
Last but not least, while you can’t ship Tequila or Mezcal out of the country without the proper licensing—you can fly it home. Just be mindful that what you purchase must be placed in your checked luggage or purchased at the airport Duty-Free shop after you pass through security. The taxes and duty for what you bring in your checked luggage will vary by country.