Out for a lakeside walk in Valea Morilor Park in Chisinau, Moldova. Photo taken December 4, 2016.
Where are Kevin and Ruth right now? Chisinau, Republic of Moldova.

Where are they going next? Transnistria. The country that doesn't exist!

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

A Mexican cultural experience to remember

Yesterday, we took the RV caravan group up into the remote mountains of Jalisco, Mexico to see something that very few tourists ever get to experience.

Ruth and I had been up to this traditional family mescal distillery twice before. The owner, Don Jesus and his sons have been very welcoming to our groups in the past, and so we asked Barb and Sal if they could arrange for us to visit again and this time take the RV caravan group up there with us.

Mescal is different from tequila in that the drink is made from the fermentaion and distillation of the maguey plant, rather than the agave plant.

The agave plant takes 5-7 years to mature enough for harvest, while they maguey plant takes 20-22 years. The maguey plant is also much larger.

They still use the rock wheel and a mule to crush the maguey hearts.

He has tried a mechanical process (the orange machine in the background), but he says the mule and the round rock still does a better job.

The volcanic rock oven pit where the maguay plant core is baked.

Don Jesus is now 71 years old and his family has been making mescal as long as he can remember. His father and his grandfather both also made mescal here on the family land, and he thinks that production goes back around 200 years. They still employ exactly the same techniques that were passed from generation to generation.

The fermented maguay hearts are ready to be transferred to the still.

A few years ago, a group of Japanese businessmen arrived at the facility. Don't ask me how they found out about it! But they wanted to purchase his complete annual production of about 4,000 litres per year. Don Jesus turned them down, saying that he produces mescal only for his friends and neighbors, and that it would remain that way. He supplies many people in the mountains and villages.

There are six stills operating. Exactly the same way for 200 years!

Don Jesus, with Ruth.

Quite a few of our group bought a litre or two.

 They pour it out into any container you brought with you. The price has gone up a little from when we were there a few years ago. It's up to 200 pesos ($15.70 CAD) per litre. We bought a litre so that Ruth's cousin Helen and her husband Tony could try it when we see them at the end of this month.

Somewhere in the mountains of Jalisco, Mexico. Don Jesus and his family own much of the land that you see here. What a beautiful area.

Once again, everyone thoroughly enjoyed the visit. We think that it's one of the most authentic things we've ever experienced in Mexico and we're so glad that we were able to show it to this group.

In the evening, we had everybody over to our place for happy hour. Friends Heinz and Ulli, and Paula and Jerry, and Doug and Nancy, and of course Barb and Sal were there as well. Just like old times at Hacienda Contreras!

Sherman and the sunset at Hacienda Contreras.

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24 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. We have now been to Don Jesus's place three times and we have enjoyed each and every visit there! Wonderful family and beautiful scenery.

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  2. Replies
    1. One of our best Mexican experiences!

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  3. What a great experience - not your regular tourist experience, that is for sure.

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    1. Nope, I would think that very few tourists ever make it to Don Jesus's place. If it hadn't been for Barb and Sal taking us there before, we would never have known about it!

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  4. Good stuff! I finished off the remains of the bottle I bought there last summer.

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    Replies
    1. You needed to make another visit here to replenish your stock! :-)

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  5. What a lovely post. Say hi to Paula and Jerry, Nancy and Doug and did Barb and Sal bring Barney? If so some pictures would be awesome. We arrived home last night. Insert sad face here. Cheers S and P


    ReplyDelete
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    1. Unfortunately Paula, Jerry, Doug and Nancy had already left before we could pass along your greeting.

      We will see Barney soon and when we do we will definitely be including pictures.

      Sorry you are back home already but now you can start planning next winter's trip. :-)

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  6. Thank you, we shall look forward to trying this. What a great day you all had.

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    Replies
    1. We can't wait to share it with you both! It was a wonderful day and everyone enjoyed the local experience.

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  7. Love it, Thanks for sharing.

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    Replies
    1. You are welcome! Glad you enjoyed the post.

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  8. Love the old family traditions, they are slowly dieing .

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    Replies
    1. Yes, unfortunately many of these old traditions and ways are slowing dying away.

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  9. Brings back so many good memories. I wished to be there with you all like in old times. We had such a good time. Whiskey's tree is really grown a lot. Please say greetings to all my friends there.

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    1. Glad we could bring back a few old memories, we wished that you were here with us all as well Renate.

      Whiskey's tree is doing amazingly well despite the last couple of years without the wonderful care that Barb and Sal had given to the park.

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  10. Replies
    1. Yes, it is a beautiful place with all the scenery and mountains. We really love this part of Mexico.

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  11. I know the group would've enjoyed seeing Don Jesus and his old-timey operation. Very cool.

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    Replies
    1. Everyone loved the experience and a few of them even said it was the highlight of their trip.

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  12. Very nice, it as a new & unique experince for me as well. Kevin & Ruth have done a great job over the last month and now I am in the awkward position of having to keep it up. Tommorrow I take the group on to Melaque. You can follow the further adventures at www.mexicorvbuddies.com/Spring2016.php

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    Replies
    1. Glad that you enjoyed the experience as well Paul. I am sure that you will have no trouble picking up where you left off with the group 4 weeks ago and will continue to give them many more great experiences in Mexico. Have fun at the beach!

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