There are two train companies running round trips out to the countryside where tequila is made. The Jose Cuervo Express one is more luxurious and goes to the namesake town itself, where you tour the famous distillery.
This past holiday season I spent a week driving a rental car from Alamo around the state of Jalisco with my family. So we could have just kept going in the car out to the Pueblo Magico of Tequila, but where’s the fun in that if there’s a luxury train to take instead? Besides, I wanted to be able to sample without abandon, letting someone else take care of the transportation.
So we hopped a taxi from our Guadalajara hotel to the train station and began the journey after checking in. This and the Copper Canyon are the only passenger train lines left in Mexico—at least until some new projects in the planning stages actually come to fruition. So it’s a real treat to leave the big city in a nice train car and watch it fade into rural areas and then blue agave fields. This video describes the experience better than I can with words.
This train trip to Tequila actually shows off more of the agave fields than you’ll see from the highway and occasionally there might be a jimador chopping away to get to the fruit that will eventually become the liquor. All along the way, you can sample as much of that as you’d like, in frozen margaritas, cocktails on the rocks, or straight-up shots.
Then when you disembark from the train at your destination, buses transport you a short hop to the Jose Cuervo distillery, where you tour the facility and do an educational tasting at the end. There’s some free time to check out the center of the town itself. Then there’s a dancing show in an arena next to the distillery before you do the quick bus ride again and then board the train for the return.
There are a few tiers of service that can affect your experience and you should go for the highest option possible if you want to get the full decadent experience—especially if you’re fond of good tequila and not the awful stuff Cuervo is best known for around the world. With the top-tier tickets, you get to sample the delicious Reserva de Familia añejo version, which goes for more than $100 at retail and comes in an artistic box that changes each year. Plus you’ll get a guided tasting of the 1800 brand’s three versions, in a room away from the massive crowds.
Unfortunately though, if you’re traveling with an underage youngster as I was, you can’t go in the best train car, which serves better tequila along the way, serves more food, and has a space at the end to go outside. That’s the adults-only “Premium Plus” service. Still, you can enhance the rest of the experience with upgrades when making your reservations by e-mail or phone.
The reservations people speak English or you can make arrangements through a hotel concierge. You can see more information on the Cuervo Express website, though if you don’t speak Spanish you might need a little help. The English button wasn’t working as this was posted. There’s an English translation of the pricing pages, however, where you can see what’s included for each tier. Rates range from roughly $110 to $140 per person, so you might as well go all the way if you’re not bringing someone under 18.
Watch for a Jalisco tour story coming soon. Meanwhile, check out that video and enjoy the ride!