Nothing says Mexico better than a bottle of tequila. Made from the ancient blue agave plant, the spirit is so much more than a drink. For a true tequila fan, there’s no better way to experience the rich history of tequila production than a trip to Tequila, a town in the state of Jalisco, Mexico…and there’s even a tequila train that will take you there.
“The Jose Cuervo Express was created in 2012 as an authentic and memorable way to bring travelers to the distillery,” shares Paris Cendejas, head of marketing and communications at Mundo Cuervo, the parent company of the José Cuervo brands, “and which would help promote the visit to the city, which today welcomes more than a million visitors a year.”
Cendejas says the train uses existing train tracks that originally transported products and materials to and from the La Rojeña distillery, the city’s oldest distillery and the first to produce tequila in Latin America. From these historic train tracks, Mundo Cuervo has developed a full-day experience that includes a two-hour train journey, a visit to the distillery and cultural center, exploring the agave fields, time to explore the city of Tequila and a musical performance.
My own journey aboard the José Cuervo Express began at a train station in the city of Guadalajara, where my fellow passengers and I were greeted with fresh coffee, Mexican hot chocolate and pan dulces, a type of sweet Mexican pastry. . Then it was on to the platform for some Instagram-worthy snaps with the José Cuervo Express before boarding
As guests board the train, they make their way to large, plush seats surrounding tables already laden with food. Waiters take their rounds with welcome drinks – and of course, each car has its own bar. The two-hour trip includes entertainment, amazing Mexican food, and tequila.
I enjoyed one of my favorite breakfasts in Mexico on the train: a bowl of yogurt, fruit and granola. There were tacos and a torta ahogada, a Mexican sandwich filled with fried meat, topped with a savory tomato-based sauce. It is a popular dish in Jalisco, the Mexican state where both Guadalajara and Tequila are located. As for tequila, each open bar offered a multitude of drinks made with José Cuervo. My favorite drink ? A lemony Paloma.
While eating and drinking with friends in these luxury cars, incredible views of the Mexican countryside parade past the windows of the train. The closer the train gets to Tequila, the more the landscape changes to include fields full of blue agaves and jimadores, the dedicated farmers who tend to the ancient plants. What you see through your windows gives a first glimpse of the early stages of your favorite bottle of tequila.
I was captivated by the amount of blue agave that covered the fields as we got closer and closer to our final destination. Plants are massive, abundant and vibrant, covering every square inch of the rolling hill landscape.
Once the train arrived at Tequila, I was greeted by hundreds of colorful hats, all laid out on the sidewalks of the station, sold by locals. Behind them, I absorbed the bold, inviting sounds of a mariachi band playing traditional music, as this quaint train station a few miles and a short cab ride from the city center greeted me.
My party piled into vans that took us to our hotel, Hotel Solar de las Animas, a hotel in the heart of the city, also owned by Jose Cuervo. Other train passengers piled into taxis or open-air vehicles shaped like tequila barrels that took them on a tour of the city.
This historic drink and the community that brought it to life for hundreds of years are inviting: a stroll through the plaza of one of Mexico’s famous “magic villages” – towns known for their magical qualities like beautiful landscapes, a rich history or interesting legends – gives the impression like just that. In the street, families play and friends sit, talk and eat. There are a host of vendors selling popular Mexican street food and drink, as well as jewelry, toys, and souvenirs.
Above my head, colorful banners known as papel picado billowed lightly in the breeze as the sun set against my skin. As someone who is always on the move, a moment in this bustling square was somehow very peaceful – like life could be so much simpler and more enjoyable.
In recent years, the small town of Tequila has become increasingly popular as a tourist attraction, growing from a single restaurant and hotel 18 years ago to today, where there are 22 distilleries, 56 restaurants and 500 hotel rooms in the city – and that’s not counting the recent addition of popular rental properties.
As part of the José Cuervo Express experience, which costs around $130 per person, passengers are guided through an expert tequila tasting and have access to La Rojeña and the Juan Beckmann Gallardo Cultural Center, a museum featuring value Mexican culture through history exhibits. , traditions and art — new and old. There’s also a can’t-miss trip to the agave fields to watch a jima, an agave harvesting demonstration.
Guests can also take part in other high-end activities at the distillery, such as a chocolate tasting – which explores the pairing of cocoa and agave – or even take the opportunity to bottle their own Reserva de la Familia, a bottle of tequila from the family reserves. bottled by visitors straight from the cask.
“The José Cuervo Express – known as the tequila train – makes two trips every Saturday between Guadalajara and Tequila,” Cendejas told Yahoo Life. Additionally, there are two types of trips customers can sign up for. First there is the sunset tour, which transitions from tequila fields to an afternoon of Tequila City exploration, then concludes with a return to Guadalajara on the José Cuervo Express in the evening. There is also a sunrise experiencewhich performs the experiment in reverse.
As someone with a passion for travel, especially as a way to explore cultures through food and drink, my experience on this day trip was one I will never forget. In fact, I would sign up to do it again and again.
Tequila is a one-of-a-kind city, and arriving on the José Cuervo Express proved to be the perfect way to kick off an unforgettable trip from the start. With a long list of additional experiences, it will definitely take me many trips back to Tequila to participate.
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