Guadalajara is at the heart of the state of Jalisco, Mexico’s principal producer of tequila. The surrounding countryside is blue with agave and dotted with historic distilleries. On the weekend, two trains leave Guadalajara on day trips to tequila country. The luxe Jose Cuervo Express offers weekend tours and a night train, both of which will take you to the Jose Cuervo distillery and the town of Tequila. Known to be rowdy, the tour includes gallons of sugary margaritas, mariachis, and a buffet. Tours begin at 10 am or 6pm at the train station in Guadalajara and cost 1,300-1,800 pesos per person, depending on package.
The Tequila Express takes visitors to the arguably better Herradura distillery in the town of Amatitán. Similar to Cuervo’s offering, the tour includes a “mariachi welcome,” a Mexican buffet, a distillery tour, and performances, including ballet folklórico and charras. The train departs from the Guadalajara train station at 9 am on Saturday and Sunday. Tickets cost1,200 pesos per person and are all-inclusive.
If you’re looking for a less hokey experience, consider renting a car or booking a driver to travel to the town of Tequila on your own, where you can visit the National Tequila Museum, Mundo Cuervo, and the Sauza Museum. You can drop in at historic distilleries, but may want to consider hiring a knowledgeable local guide. Of the town-based tour companies, we like Mexico Tequila Tours, a reputable mom-and-pop operation.
If you’ve got time, several companies offer package tours that are laidback yet informative. The three day Spirit of Jalisco tour includes tequila tasting in a cave, four distillery visits, a poolside “agave orientation” with a tequila expert, and a visit to the historic cantina, La Capilla. Serious tequila aficionados may want to consider booking with a higher end company such as Experience Tequila, which offers private customized tours that last up to a week and include luxury accommodations and dining, optional side trips to ruined haciendas, and VIP visits to artisanal distilleries in the company of a certified tequila expert. Salud!