In Which We Go to Jalisco With Tequila Don Julio

Agave Fields, a Tequila Distillery, Mariachi Serenade and Backstreet Boys Singalong Were Just The Beginning

What if I started this recap of 72 hours (give or take) in Jalisco with something like “what do you get when you put 20+ people, Mexico, and Tequila Don Julio together?” And then I came in with a line that was like “You get one personal day after.” Ho ho.

But let’s go with this instead:

Imagine the Whalebone team calls you and tells you, “Hey you’re going to Mexico to hang out with some of the best people we know at the Tequila Don Julio Distillery and agave fields. Plus Tequila.”

Pour that over ice and you’ve got an experience that only could have been bettered if Pat Fallon had made his flight.

The man they call Mario. Photo Gunner Hughes

Night 1: I Wear My (RAEN) Sunglasses at Night

Cocktail hour and buffet. Let me tell you, if you were expecting the food in Mexico to be good, then yes, it was. More of the group is trickling in and everyone is getting to know one another and pouring over the beautiful RAEN sunglasses while responsibly drinking a little tequila and Tabasco. Pat is stuck in Mexico City, asking about a bus schedule.

Laugh it up. Photo Lindsey Miller

Day 2: Pat Makes the Bus

Bright and early on the shuttle and into the fields to spend the day with the 14 jimadors who harvest agave for all the Tequila Don Julio in the world. Woof. Read more about them here.

Seeing the agave or the “piña” harvested by hand was something none of us will soon forget. Pat tries to lift one. It doesn’t go well. The agave is carved down into a perfect pineapple shape with the use of the razor sharp blade on the “coa” tool (which Pat is not offered the use of), and the result looks like a dragon egg.

After harvest, the dragon eggs are loaded up onto a truck and make their way to the distillery where they are chopped into smaller chunks and roasted in the oven at a temperature which I’m betting is hot. Post-bake-sesh, the agave is mashed for juice and pulp which is then distilled, not once, not twice, but thrice.  The takeaway: the amount of love, care and hard work that is put into every bottle is overly apparent and would certainly make one reconsider ever drinking anything other than Tequila Don Julio. Also, Benji was definitely the star student.

Jorge and Alex tour us around the distillery and sweep us off our feet with a tequila tasting. We like them. Pat makes the bus.

Anyway, there was a full-set mariachi band waiting for us when we got there.

Rounding out the day is a mid-day lunch at the Tequila Don Julio Ranch, which is just as vibey as it sounds. Anyway, there was a full-set mariachi band waiting for us when we got there. What seemed like six glorious courses later. We’re back on the bus.

Outstanding in the field.

Night 2: Backstreet’s Back, Alright

Dinner at I latina was everything you would expect it to be + ceilingless roof and the company of Enrique de Colsa, the Master Distiller of Tequila Don Julio. NBD. Post incredible dinner, we were transported to something called a dance experience. Which, is really what it was. Seems like 80’s/90’s pop music is a whole vibe in millennial Mexican culture. I’m here for it. Mas tequila, and a solid group rendition to the Backstreet Boys’ “Everybody” later and we’re on our way home for the evening.

Salud! at the Don Julio Ranchero. Photo Lindsey Miller

Day 3: Morning at the Museum

A light breakfast and definitely no morning tequila and we’re bussed off to the Hospicio Cabañas to learn about art and perspective. And met the man of our surrealistic dreams, Erubey, our devilishly slick tour guide who was made of schtick. After the stand-up special we’re in Tlaquepaque making art with Paco Padilla at his studio, which is actual magic. An hour or so of painting skulls and we’re bonafide sugar skull ar-tists. Cap the day with Selena in Wonderland at Cafe Luna and haggling in the square for precious blankets, and we’re all tuckered out. Pat meets a gaggle of nuns.

Photo Gunner Hughes

Night 3: Where’s the Video, Stu?

We’re at the restaurant Hueso, which literally means Bone. How fitting. Food is, you’ll never guess, unreal. Eddie makes a good speech, we’re all hugging and crying.

Photo Gunner Hughes

A big thank you to our amazing guides/wranglers, Alex, Isabella, and Taylor and everyone at Tequila Don Julio. And of course our tremendous sponsors RAEN Sunglasses and Grayl.