Herradura is a tequila distiller located in Amatitán, Jalisco, Mexico. It was formally founded in 1870 by Félix López and the business remained in the family for over 125 years. Not a bad legacy to still have one could say! So how did it all come about for us all to enjoy?
After beginning with Félix López, who began as the distillery administrator under then owners Josefa Salazar and her sons, López took over the distillery and agave fields in 1870 and registered it as a tequila producer under the name of Hacienda San José del Refugio. Félix López married Carmen Rosales and they had two children, Aurelio and María de Jesús. The couple modernized the production of tequila at the hacienda, building a facility that remained in use until 1963. López died in 1878 and Rosales took over the business along with her brother Ambrosio Rosales and his wife Elisa Gomez Cuervo. Later, the business was inherited by Aurelio López.
The construction of railroads in the late 19th century allowed for easier shipping to other parts of Mexico and increased tequila’s popularity in the country. By this time the hacienda’s tequila was well-known, with Aurelio giving it the name of Herradura. The name, which means horseshoe in Spanish, is a said to have come from the finding of a horseshoe on the hacienda property. Stories vary but the one told by the company’s website says that it was found in the early 1900’s by Aurelio, while inspecting the agave fields. It gleamed like gold and the horseshoe was kept for luck, naming the tequila after it. In the 1920’s the Cristero War broke out, with both Aurelio and his sister María de Jesus as sympathizers. At one point, government troops surrounded the hacienda but the siblings were able to escape. However, Aurelio never returned again.
The hacienda passed into the hand of Aurelio’s cousin David Rosales, who kept the tequila 100% agave despite the trend towards blending to cut costs. In 1928, he registered the Herradura brand in Mexico City with a horseshoe as its logo. The hacienda and the Herradura brand remained in the family for over a century. In the 1960’s, the old factory was shut down in favour of a new one, but kept as a museum. During this time, Herradura Añejo was introduced with Reposado introduced in 1974. In 1994, el Jimador was introduced and became the #1 seller in Mexico.
So how is Herradura created?
Herradura begins with the harvest of 100% blue agave plants after 7 to 10 years of growth. After slicing off the green outer leaves, it leaves the large agave ‘piñas’. The piñas are brought in from the fields, cut in half and placed within the traditional ovens made of bricks and stone. The piñas are then steamed for up to 26 hours before being crushed to extract the juice and poured into open tanks.
Natural wild air-borne yeasts growing on agave plants and citrus trees living at the distillery are used in the Casa Herradura fermentation process. The juice will remain between four and seven days in the tanks before being distilled. Herradura uses slow distillation, a tradition not often practiced these days, meaning heating the liquid at slightly lower temperatures. There are two distillations; the first takes 3 ½ hours, and the second takes 5 hours.
Herradura is one of México’s largest barrel holders, using only oak barrels imported from Kentucky to mature their tequila. Herradura is aged longer than it needs to by law, but does it make any difference? Well below, I give to you my tasting notes on the range –
Herradura Plata – 40%
Aged for forty days. Very soft and clean with cooked agave notes on the nose. Soft on the palate too with slight flavours of the wood coming through. Lingers whilst it creates a mouth-watering finish.
Herradura Reposado – 40%
Aged for 11 months. Soft on the nose with delicate dry wood and spice aromas. Developing spice on the palate with sweet vanilla and hints of powdered cinnamon. Short.
Herradura Añejo – 40%
Aged for two years. Intense oak with nut aromas coming through. Incredibly smooth on the palate with sweet fruit flavours coming through. Rather creamy with a long finish.
A fantastic range of tequila, with the extra ageing creating something a little bit special. Great on their own or over ice, or maybe one of these –
The Hacienda Fizz
50 ml Herradura Plata
10 ml Fresh lemon juice
15 ml Herradura Agave Syrup
2 Dashes of Fee Brothers Orange Bitters
Add all ingredients except the water to a hi-ball glass filled with ice and stir thoroughly. Top up with the sparkling water, garnish with a slice of lemon.
Have to love a versatile product! One to definitely stock in your drinks cabinet, or indeed if you ever see any of the range in your local bar. Worth a go.
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