Tequila Distilleries

The distilleries we visit as part of a Spirit of Jalisco Tequila Distillery Tour are among the finest in Mexico. The selected group of distilleries featured on any particular tour are chosen to provide a representative range of size, fermentation methods, distillation techniques and flavor profiles. Here is a sampling of the distilleries we typically visit as part of our Valley of Tequila Tour.

Please note that exact distilleries are subject to change, due to season, rainfall conditions, and production cycles. Write tours@spiritofjalisco.com with any questions about the distilleries you will be visiting as part of your tour.

La Fortaleza

The only distillery owned by the direct descendents of the historic “Tres Generaciones” of the Sauza family, La Fortaleza distillery is utilizes the most traditional process in the entire Tequila industry. This is one of only two distilleries utilizing the traditional tahona (a 2-ton stone wheel used to grind cooked agave) for 100% of their production.

The distillery resides on the outskirts of town, adjacent to a beautiful agave field and the traditional family home.

Please note: The family, its process and product maintain no connection with Tequila Sauza since it was sold in the 1970’s, along with its La Preservancia and La Constancia distilleries.

Brands: Fortaleza, Los Abuelos
Agave Source: Tequila
Cooking: Brick Oven
Milling: Tahona
Fermentation: Open, Wood Vats
Distillation: Copper, Double
Barrels: Used American Whiskey

La Cofradia

A medium-sized industrial distillery, La Cofradia is named for the religious “brotherhoods” dating back to the early 19th century in the Tequila region. The distillery itself dates from the mid-20th century. Scores of brands are produced here, both mixtos (blended) and 100% agave. Most prominent is Casa Noble Tequila, our host at La Cofradia.

Casa Noble is intently focused on doing things differently. Committed to sustainability, Casa Noble harvests only organic agave, composting all waste on-site. One of the only brands to triple-distill their Tequila (most other producers only distill twice), they remain unique pioneers by using virgin French-oak barrels for aging.

Brands: Casa Noble, Cofradia, many more
Agave Source: Useta, Nayarit (Casa Noble specifically)
Cooking: Brick Ovens
Milling: Mechanical Screw Mill
Fermentation: Open
Distillation: Stainless Steel, Triple (Casa Noble specifically)
Barrels: New French Oak (Casa Noble specifically)

El Llano

Founded in 1900, El Llano is one of the oldest independent, familyowned distilleries in Mexico. The Orendain family, owners of El Llano, remains among the most prominent Tequila dynasties in Mexico, in a class with the Beckmans (of Jose Cuervo) and the Sauzas (formerly of Tequila Sauza).

Situated on the same street as these two historic distilleries, El Llano resides on the upper bank of the Atizcua river, whose source originates from the slopes the Tequila Volcano.

El Llano is small and modern but remains artisanal, using only agaves grown in the Orendian family fields and still distilled in small batches.

Additionally, El Llano is one of the last distilleries in the region to use only natural volcanic spring water throughout production.

Brands: Arette, Tres Agaves
Agave Source: Tequila Valley
Cooking: Autoclave
Milling: Mechanical Mill
Fermentation: Open
Distillation: Stainless Steel, Double
Barrels: Used American Oak

Hacienda San José del Refugio

Home to Herradura Tequila and one of the oldest distilleries in Mexico (dating from the 1870s), San José del Refugio is currently owned by Brown-Forman (owners of Jack Daniels Whiskey). This distillery showcases an excellent example of combining modern methods with traditional elements of production.

San José del Refugio remains among the best preserved examples of a true Tequila hacienda as worker residences can still be seen once inside its ancient massive walls. Traditional haciendas were essentially self-sufficient villages—and this one is no exception.

Herradura was the first well-known brand of 100% agave Tequila in the US, and set the standard for decades. They introduced to the US the first Reposado in 1974, and Extra-Añejo in 2007.

Brands: Herradura, Antiguo, El Jimador, Don Eduardo, Hacienda del Cristero
Agave Source: DO Region
Cooking: Brick Ovens (specifically for the Herradura brand)
Milling: Mechanical Mill
Fermentation: Open
Distillation: Stainless Steel, Double
Barrels: Used American Whiskey

La Tequileña

Owned by the Fonseca family, this early-20th century distillery is arguably among the most important agave growers in the highlands region.

The facility dates from 1912, and was purchased from Bacardi in the late 1970s. All brands produced here utilize Fonseca agaves from the highlands, and the presence of two types of stills, along with one of the largest barrel selections in Jalisco, allows them to significantly vary profiles from product to product.

The column still, used here, was the first in the Tequila industry, and is still unique as it is made completely of copper. Patriarch Enrique Fonseca is renowned for his skill and creativity in blending Añejos and Extra-Añejos.

Brands: Don Fulano, T1, Asombroso, Lapis, Pura Sangre, 3-4-5, more
Agave Source: Highlands (Los Altos de Jalisco)
Cooking: Autoclave
Milling: Mechanical Mill
Fermentation: Open
Distillation: Varies by brand: copper pots and copper column
Barrels: Wide variety