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Because I love tequila, I decided I needed to go down to tequila country in Mexico to see where and how they make it.

Tequila (the drink) is a type of Mezcal, which is an alcoholic drink distilled from the agave plant. Mezcal is made from more than two dozen varieties of agave, but tequila is made only from the blue agave plant and, according to Mexican law, can be called “tequila” only if it’s made in the area around the town of Tequila in the state of Jalisco (and only a few other states).

Tequila (the town) is about 90 miles west of Guadalajara, in the state of Jalisco. Jalisco is on the central Pacific coast of Mexico and stretches from the ocean inland about 200 miles. It’s tropical, all of the state lying south of 23 degrees latitude.

The town itself is a quiet little place, filled with the offices and corporate stores of numerous Tequila distilleries and distributors. You’ll find hawkers selling tours to distilleries and lots of good street food. The bars offer a pretty broad selection of tequilas, as you might expect.

The fields surrounding Tequila and scattered across the state of Jalisco are filled with the soothing blue-green color of the Weber Agave plant, from which tequila is made. Distilleries are located all around Tequila and most offer tours of their facilities.

Old wine barrels are recycled for aging tequila at the distillery of Siete Leguas Tequila.
The Siete Leguas tequila distillery is the only remaining distillery that still has a demonstration of using mules to turn the stone wheel that crushes the cooked tequila piñas.
A hillside full of Weber Blue Agave shows why it’s called blue.
This shop is Tlaquepaque claims to have the widest variety of tequila in the world. The hanging sign says the store has 1,915 different bottles of tequila.
A field of Weber Blue Agave ripening for harvest.
Volcan Tequila looms over agave plants growing along the highway.
A food market just off the main plaza of Tequila, Mexico, remains busy in the evenings.
On a Saturday afternoon in Tequila’s church, the sanctuary fills with girls celebrating their quinceañeras with their families.
Tiles on the sidewalk in downtown Tequila guide you along the tourist route.
Piñas that have been prepped for cooking are piled up outside the ovens at the Casa Herradura distillery at Amatitán, Jalisco, Mexico.
One of the hornos (ovens) for cooking the agave piñas at the Puerta de Hierro distillery at El Arenal, Jalisco, Tequila.