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Get high on a trip to tequila haven

india Updated: Feb 06, 2011 11:11 IST

IANS
Highlight Story

Take a trip to southwest Mexico and you will get high by just seeing the 250-year-old tequila making process - the famous alcoholic beverage that you have been using to liven up your spirits.

A train ride is being planned in Mexico's Jalisco state for tourists to get a first-hand look at the scenic blue agave plantations that are the source of this world-famous beverage. The tour, conceived by Tequila Cuervo La Rojena, the maker of the famous Jose Cuervo tequila brand, will begin April 1.

The trip will start around midday at a 19th century railway station outside the state capital Guadalajara and will end in the afternoon so that visitors can enjoy the grand view of the sunset over the greenish-blue agave-dotted landscape.

Another train, called Tequila Express and run by tequila producer Casa Herradura, is already in operation here.

But the new service that is being planned promises much more to the visitors.

"We want the tourist to be seduced by the aromas, the colours and the history that surrounds this beverage," said Araceli Ramos Rosaldo, director of public relations for the Jose Cuervo brand.

"For it to be an educational, intimate experience in which they can taste a good tequila and are left with pleasant memories," she said.

Three major tequila distilleries - Jose Cuervo, Herradura and Sauza - are located in Tequila.

The agave plantations are located a few miles from the Tequila volcano, whose eruption 22,000 years ago had covered the area with mineral-rich soil, ideal for the plant.

The region is dominated by red soil and the volcanic obsidian rocks. The plants take 12 to 13 years to mature, by when they become suitable for processing.

Once the plants are matured, their long thorn-covered "pencas", or leaves, are cut to reveal the core, known as the "pina", or pineapple, whose interior contains the nectar that is fermented and distilled to make tequila.

Visitors who make the journey to the Tequila town can see more than 35,000 hectares of blue agave fields covering the undulating hills. Colourful houses dot the landscape.

They can also stop at roadside stands and buy "Cantarito", a popular beverage here made with citrus juice, grapefruit soda, tequila and lots of ice, served in a special clay jug.

Jose Cuervo's La Rojena distillery, whose building was once a convent, still uses traditional room-sized clay ovens to cook the raw agave and "alambiques", or stills, in which tequila has been produced since 1758.

After the tour, tourists can sample traditional Mexican food accompanied by one of several Jose Cuervo tequilas like Jose Cuervo Black, ideal for mixed drinks, Gran Centenario Plata, a white tequila with high alcohol content, and Jose Cuervo Tradicional.

The agave landscape and the ancient industrial facilities in Tequila were declared a Unesco World Heritage site in 2006.