By Tina Guidry Patterson
With seven hours before our flight, tequila tasting just seemed like a good use of our time — right? We had spent eight sun-filled days visiting Puerto Vallarta on our annual trip to Mexico, but had not purchased tequila before heading back home. Several residents told us that Mama Lucia Tequila was a local distillery that would be worth our time. So we asked our taxi driver to take us to Mezcales to visit Mama Lucia. He hesitated and quizzically repeated our destination (understandable, as it was 8 a.m.), which we confirmed.
As we drove closer to the distillery, we noticed that the road changed from asphalt to dirt, with the distillery emerging from behind a row of abandoned houses. The entrance was blocked by a locked iron gate, but this did not seem to bother Ricardo. He simply honked his car horn, and that’s when we saw Poncho running down the stairs putting on a collared shirt over his T-shirt. He was yelling, “Welcome, welcome” and quietly speaking in Spanish into doorways as he passed by. Talk about feeling ridiculous; we stood there wishing we could crawl into a hole and let these nice people get back to their daily routine. However, as we later discovered, they were indeed open for business, but were caught off guard since most tourists leave on Sunday (and don’t drink tequila before getting on their flights) — cue the crooked smile.
Poncho described how the agave plant takes seven to 10 years to mature, at which time the sap is extracted from the core (or pina), and then we began the tasting. It wasn’t long before we saw an elderly woman go into the outdoor kitchen area and begin cooking. To our surprise, Poncho’s abuelita (grandmother) began making homemade tamales and guacamole to enhance the distillery experience.
I discovered that flavored tequilas are outstanding, but the five-year, barrel-aged tequila is the one to buy. Why? Well, since I am a bourbon enthusiast, I have to say that aged tequila reminds this southern girl of that smoky, warm nectar of the gods.
If you happen to be visiting Puerto Vallarta and you have a sense of adventure, then a visit to Poncho and his abuelita at Mama Lucia is a one-of-a-kind experience. The tour of the distillery and tastings are free. If you decide to indulge in the authentic tamales and guacamole, you will pay less than $3 per person. You can also schedule a private tour Monday through Friday after 5 p.m. at no charge. Contact Poncho at 011-52-329-296-5189 (http://tequilamamalucia.com).
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