Tue. Aug 11th, 2020

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Cascahuín Tequila Distillery

6 min read

Cascahuín Tequila Made With Tradition Since 1904

For the last couple of years my son and I have been weeding through lots of popular brands of tequila, and while there are a lot to choose from, many companies have been introducing new brands for a softer North American palate.

Not all, but many of the new tequilas produced in my opinion lack character.

Now, while some may argue with this statement and question my knowledge, I have been living in Jalisco, Mexico for over 45 years, and have been drinking tequila for at least 40 so, I would say that gives me at least a tiny bit of experience.

At the age of 15 I began tasting different tequilas, yes, I know, a bit too young but hey, how could I not,  it was a beverage of choice around our household.

Cascahuín tequila distillery

I had a short absence from being around tequila as I had been caught up in a long term business project that has now come to an end.

I decided it was, time to return to my passion and begin tasting and visiting tequila distilleries.

The first one on my list has been the Cascahuín Tequila Distillery, it is one I have wanted to visit and learn more about how this great tequila is made.

The history behind the making of tequila spans over four centuries, and while some of the traditions have been modernized with new distilling techniques, Tequila Cascahuín has maintained their tradition and quality since the family began producing tequila back in 1904.

The Cascahuín tequila distillery is located in the small town of El Arenal, Jalisco, about 26 km just west of Guadalajara, we personally traveled from Jocotepec, Jalisco (near Lake Chapala), our total travel time was about an hour and thirty minutes.

On this particular day, we went to El Arenal to visit another distillery and had not secured an appointment with Cascahuín “we just showed up”.

I want to say that their hospitality was generous and in spite of the sudden visit, my family and I were given a warm welcome and a tour of the Cascahuín tequila distillery.

While you have probably heard of most tequila being made in the town of Tequila, Jalisco, I feel that many of the distilleries there have become too commercial for my liking, many of them having been bought out by bigger companies that now mass produce a lot of the tequila on the shelves today.

Unfortunately, mass production causes a reduction in quality not to mention a loss of the whole tequila making tradition.

My goal now and in the future is to find tequila distilleries where tequila is made with traditioanl methods and Cascahuín is one of them.

We were given the tour by a young Japanese man by the name of Tetsu (Testsu Shady).

Tetsu has been a professional mixologist in Tokio, Japan for over 14 years.

His interest in tequila inspired a visit to Jalisco for the very first time in 2009, he came back to stay in 2014, at that time he became friends with the Rosales family, he was invited to join the staff and now plays an important role in both marketing and promoting Tequila Cascahuín.

Tequila Cascahuín is still made with traditional methods which are immediately noticeable from the time you enter the distillery.

Cascahuín tradition every step of the way

As you enter the grounds of the Cascahuín tequila distillery you are greeted by a subtle sweet and smoky aroma of cooking agave, this is one of the quality traits of Tequila Cascahuín, not only are you smelling freshly cooked agave, you are smelling over a century of tequila making tradition.

The process begins with cutting the base of the agave also called (piñas) and then shaving of the prickly leaves, this is done by men called Jimadores.

The piñas are then loaded on to trucks and taken to the distillery for processing.

First, the agave is cut in half and cooked

The first process is to shave down the piñas. After they are cleaned they go into a big enclosed masonry oven where they cook for three days, they are then left to cool for a day and then rinsed, it is then time to process the piñas.

Cooked Agave in Oven

The piñas are loaded on to a conveyor and are ground and milled in preparation for the juice extraction.

Agave Mill

After the Agave has been milled it is placed into a crushing pit called a Tahona where the juice from the agave is extracted.

A stone mill called a Tahona is used the extract the juices

In the old days, the crushing process was done with horses or mules, the mules would circle around the pit pulling the stone and crushing the agave fibers, this has obviously changed, the same process is used today, the difference is that they now use a machine that runs the Tahona.

Tahona With Cantera Wheel

After the juices have been extracted they are sent to big stainless steel vats where the fermentation process begins, the yeast eats up the sugar, creates C02 which is where the magic tequila juice comes from, but we’re not done yet.

Tequila Fermentation

Distillation

After it has been fermented it is transferred into new storage tanks where the distillation process begins, the tequila is passed through the tanks for a double distillation to bring out the best flavor in the tequila.

Tequila Distilling Tanks

After the distillation process is complete it is then either transferred to stainless steel holding tanks for bottling (Blanco tequila) or into wood oak barrels where the aging process begins.

Cascahuín is very meticulous about their aging process and it can vary, a lot depends on taste and when they feel it has reached its peak flavor.

The reposado is aged between 6-8 months and the añejo anywhere between 10-16 months. The extra añejo is aged for 4 years.

Cascahuín Oak Barrels

The bottling process

The bottling process at the Cascahuín tequila distillery is all done by hand, the bottles are filled manually, the labels are pasted on by hand and the bottles capped. The whole process is done with a lot of care even down to the packaging.

35%, 38%, 40% or higher alcohol content what’s better?

Every country has its standards for alcohol content, in the U.S, tequila, for the most part, is 40% or higher in Mexico it starts at 35%, and goes up from there.

Most Cascahuín tequila is bottled at 38% with the exception of the Cascahuín Plata which is 48%, Tahona 42%, and the extra añejo is 43%.

I personally prefer tequila that’s in the 35% or 38% range because I feel that this is the where the best flavors are brought out.

Who better to ask about alcohol content than Tetsu, after all, he is a mixologist and has been doing it for over 15 years.

When I asked him about alcohol content his comment was that 40% is good for mixing due to its stronger flavor.

Tetsu strongly believes that the higher methanol levels do affect the taste.

We both agree that tequila within the 38% range is the sweet spot for both smoothness and the best flavor.

After the tour of the distillery, we were taken to the Cascahuín store next to the distillery where we were invited to taste some of their tequilas.

The store sells their complete line of tequilas and you can purchase them individually or by the case.

Cascahuín does offer tours by appointment, so if you have some time and are in Guadalajara or the surrounding area the Cascahuín tequila distillery is one that’s worth visiting.

Final thoughts

Tequila Cascahuín makes a great tequila, by far the Blanco is still my favorite, mainly because it holds so much of the traditional flavor a good tequila should have.

Every time you take a sip of Cascahuín you are tasting over a century of tradition.

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