A visit to Baston del Rey outside Puerto Vallarta Mexico is a glimpse into the artisanal, handcrafted tequila making process. Sampling makes it all the more sweeter!
Did you know there's a city in Mexico called Tequila? Even if you didn't know that, I'm betting you can guess what they make there. On a recent visit to Puerto Vallarta, some friends and I paid a visit to el Baston del Rey, just outside Tequila in Arenal, to learn about the tequila making process, and of course, do some sampling.
What's notable about el Baston del Rey is the craftsmanship they use in making their tequila. They're using 100% pure blue agave with no added sugars, fillers or chemicals. If you're going to drink booze, this is the way to do it.
At El Baston del Rey, they start with the best blue agave in the fields of Jalisco. Many tequila producers look to save money by harvesting the plants after just five years. Baston del Rey waits for just the right sweetness, which usually means waiting seven or eight years. That extra time ensures great, full flavor.
Next comes the burning of the center of the plant, called the pinas. Some people will cut corners and throw the pinas into big stainless steel vats to quickly cook them. Baston del Rey digs big pits in the ground where they use lava rocks, special wood, banana leaves, soil and grasses to surround the pinas and slowly cook them for three days. This brings on a robust flavor that other producers try and mimic by using added sugars and chemicals. Which process would you prefer?
Then comes the Tahona. This stone pit has a giant wheel that gets turned by a mule and serves to crush the now soft pinas. The fiber is extracted from the juice and used for construction projects. Yes, that's some seriously strong fiber.
The juices then ferment for about a week with no intervention. Distillation comes next to remove the methanol and other impurities. A second distillation occurs to ensure the cleanest tequila.
The last step in the tequila making process is putting the liquid into barrels. The natural warmth of the wood imparts flavor into the tequila, but if you want to taste it straight up, Baston del Rey's silver tequila has no barreling. Reposado is aged 6-12 months, while the anejo spends 18 - 24 months in barrel. Different wood is used for each so you can taste a wide variety of flavors.
Baston del Rey recently started experimenting with flavored tequilas and it has become quite a hit with customers. My group fell in love with the chocolate espresso liqueur. Chocolate, tequila and espresso, are you kidding me? It's a great dessert and ideally you can show restraint and hold off putting it in your coffee in the morning. We did get a bottle home, but it went quickly.
Baston del Rey has been family owned and operated for over 75 years. Some of the 4th and 5th generation Avalos kids were working in the tasting room while we visited. Judging by their good humor, charm and love of tequila, there are many more great decades to come for Baston del Rey!
El Baston del Rey