By John Pint
Tres Mujeres is a small tequila distillery conveniently situated alongside Highway 15, just 30 kilometers west of Guadalajara.
Thanks to dramatic roadway improvements, it can be reached in 30 minutes from the edge of the city. But, you might ask: Can I really get the “tequila experience” here or should I drive on another 12 kilometers to the town that gave Mexico’s famed fiery liquor its name?
I would suggest that you have come to just the right place, because the citizens of Amatitan have cried long and loud – for centuries, I’m guessing – that their town is the true birthplace of tequila.
They claim that the agave tequilana weber (azul variety), from which all authentic tequila is made, is native to the small canyon of El Tecuane, located five kilometers north of Amatitan. Here, you will find a taberna (distillery) so old that the precious brew was fermented there not in vats but in 40 huge 3,000-liter pits carved into the living tepetate rock.
Unfortunately, that ancient taberna of Tecuane has a high wall around it and is tightly locked up. Tres Mujeres, on the other hand, has no wall. In fact, quite the opposite – it’s the only distillery I know where you can walk right in, wander about, and spend as much time as you like watching every stage of the tequila-making process.
Of course, they have a tour, if you want one – an excellent one costing a mere 20 pesos per person and, yes, including tasting their product. See how far 20 pesos gets you in the town of Tequila, where tours now have a distinct gringo flavor … and ticket price. But if you are showing guests around and already know a bit about how tequila is made, here’s a place where you can explain it all to your friends at your own leisurely pace.
The process of making tequila has changed in recent times. Today, the autoclave, a kind of giant pressure cooker, is commonly used to cook the piñas and, according to the Tres Mujeres website, most mass-brand tequilas now add color, flavors or chemicals to their products leaving only a handful of distilleries to carry on the ancient traditions, still cooking their piñas in ovens and adding absolutely nothing artificial.
After showing your guests the various stages of tequila production, you can then take them down into the dark tunnels beneath Tres Mujeres. This is reputed to be the largest tequila cava in the world, filled with at least 1,000 barrels of tequila reposado. These dark, humid tunnels are ideal for aging tequila because evaporation is kept to a minimum.
Halfway along your tour of the cava you’ll start to hear … Beethoven! Tequila Santanera ages their barrels here and they believe Beethoven’s music – which plays 24 hours a day – favorably “affects the molecules” of their brand. By the way, for this underground visit I suggest you bring along a few flashlights.
If by now you are hungry, you might want to patronize the newly opened restaurant at Tres Mujeres. It’s called Finca de Agave. Their prices are reasonable and the dish Alambres Agaveros is excellent!
For more information, check tequilatresmujeres.com.mx or call (33) 1781-0386. Tres Mujeres is open every day of the week, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. And in case you’re wondering who Tres Mujeres was named after, founder Jesús Sergio Partida Meléndez relates they are “the three lovely ladies in my family.”
How to get there
To reach Tres Mujeres, drive west out of Guadalajara toward Nogales and Puerto Vallarta. Instead of getting on the toll road, follow the “libre” Highway 15 for 33 kilometers towards Amatitán. You’ll find the distillery on your right, about two kilometers after El Arenal (and about five before Amatitan). To get there using Google Maps, ask (using these exact words) to go to “Tequilera Tres Mujeres, El Arenal, Jalisco.” Driving time from the Guadalajara Periferico to Tres Mujeres is about half an hour and from Ajijic it’s about one hour and 45 minutes.