The approach to TEQUILA, some 50km northwest of Guadalajara, is through great fields of spiky, cactus-like blue agave. It’s from these rugged plants that the quintessentially Mexican liquor has been produced since the sixteenth century, with the indígenas fermenting its precursor for at least 1500 years before that, a legacy which earned Tequila and its surroundings UNESCO World Heritage status in 2006. The town itself is a pretty enough little place, with its fine church and smattering of bourgeois mansions, but most tourists come to visit the distilleries.
Visiting Tequila is particularly fun during one of its fiestas: the town celebrates the Día de la Santa Cruz (May 3) with mariachi and plenty of imbibing; and La Señora de la Salud (Dec 8), with rodeos, cockfights, fireworks and more drinking. World Tequila Day (May 27) is celebrated with parades and drinking, but in Amatitán rather than Tequila itself (arguably, Amatitán was the original centre of “mescal wine” production before the arrival of the railway made Tequila its distribution centre and gave the liquor its modern name).