And yet…ever more folks are coming to appreciate the spirit’s finer points — there are reposados the equal of any single malt or Cognac, and a lore nearly as varied and distinguished as either. It was this pedigree — plus a taste of the lesser-known color of colonial Mexico — that I was seeking when I set out for this legendary central Mexican town.
This singular liquor is distilled from the cactuslike agave plant, and an officially designated “Tequila Route” passes through various villages that live for agave (including homemade brew in mini-barrels lining shopkeepers’ shelves; sample at your own risk). But it’s in and around Santiago de Tequila (pop. 27,000) on scenic Carretera15 less than an hour from Guadalajara, that you’ll find more than half of Mexico’s 90,000 acres of blue agave cultivation.