LIFESTYLE

Mexico's growing craft tequila industry
Small-batch ultra premium tequilas are finding favor with customers across the U.S., and changing the way the tequila industry in Mexico operates.
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12_aging_top

Sauza ages his reposado in wooden barrels for six months. His line of añejos spends a year and half in the barrel, an aging process that imparts a smokier, more complex flavor. (Photo: Nathaniel Parish Flannery/Fox News Latino)

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Most tequila consumed in the U.S. comes from the agave-lined hills of the state of Jalisco, northwest of Mexico City. (Photo: Nathaniel Parish Flannery/Fox News Latino)

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The agave plants are cut by "jimadores" like these men who use a sharp, circular tool called a "coa" to cut off the plants' sharp, rubbery spines and separate the core from the roots. (Photo: Nathaniel Parish Flannery/Fox News Latino)

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The agave cores, called "piñas" are then loaded into steam ovens to be roasted. At the Herradura factory in Jalisco workers load in 70 tons of piñas every day. (Photo: Nathaniel Parish Flannery/Fox News Latino)

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The cooked agave is loaded into a mill and mashed, extracting the sweet juice that seeps out of the roasted chunks of agave. (Photo: Nathaniel Parish Flannery/Fox News Latino)

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The agave juice is then transferred to vats for the fermentation process. Herradura ferments hundreds of thousands of liters of agave juice every day. (Photo: Nathaniel Parish Flannery/Fox News Latino)

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At Herradura the agave juice is sent through overhead pipes from the milling room into the fermentation room. The vats bubble and hiss during the fermentation process. When the liquid is "muerto" and no longer fermenting it is distilled. (Photo: Nathaniel Parish Flannery/Fox News Latino)

6_destill

Industrial producers such as Herradura use multiple stills to mass-produce millions of liters of tequila every year. Industrial production has helped Mexico increase tequila exports from 64.6 million liters in 1995 to 172 million in 2013. (Photo: Nathaniel Parish Flannery/Fox News Latino)

7_sample

Juan José Alonso, a production supervisor at Herradura samples a bottle of undiluted blanco, fresh from the distillation process. âIt has the flavor of cooked agave. Itâs 55 percent alcohol. We add water to dilute it,â he explained. (Photo: Nathaniel Parish Flannery/Fox News Latino)

8_mezcal

In the last few years consumers in both Mexico and the U.S. have started to embrace mezcal, a spirit made at small family-owned operations. Most producers use a horse-drawn stone to mill the agave and a wood-fire heated still to distill the final product. (Photo: Nathaniel Parish Flannery/Fox News Latino)

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U.S. consumers and bars have begun looking for small-batch tequilas that use traditional production processes. Guillermo Sauza, a fifth generation tequila maker, stands in front of a massive "tajona" milling stone in front of the distillery that produces his Fortaleza brand. (Photo: Nathaniel Parish Flannery/Fox News Latino)

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Fortaleza's entire production process fits inside one small room. Sauza has updated his family's production process by replacing the horse that traditionally pulled the tajona with a small tractor. (Photo: Nathaniel Parish Flannery/Fox News Latino)

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Fortaleza uses traditional wooden barrels to ferment its tequila. (Photo: Nathaniel Parish Flannery/Fox News Latino)

13_served

Sauza says that hand-crafted tequilas should be sipped, not taken as shots. (Photo: Nathaniel Parish Flannery/Fox News Latino)

14_Fortaleza_maker

Sauza says, "If you see me at a party with a white liquid in my glass, it's not Chardonnay." (Photo: Nathaniel Parish Flannery/Fox News Latino)

Mexico's growing craft tequila industry

Small-batch ultra premium tequilas are finding favor with customers across the U.S., and changing the way the tequila industry in Mexico operates.

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