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Highland vs Lowland Jalisco Tequila

For years tequila gurus have been having a debate as if they were polarizing Coke vs. Pepsi: Which location produces better tequila, the “Highlands” or the “Lowlands” of Jalisco, Mexico?

Here at San Diego Tequila Tours we hope to define the different.

With tequila dating back to the 1500’s, only in the last 30 years have the terms Highland Jalisco tequila and Lowland Jalisco tequila been used. It was in the 1990’s that Don Julio and Patron began marketing their product as Highland.

Jalisco, Mexico, is renowned for its production of tequila, a distilled spirit made from the blue agave plant. Tequila can be classified into two main categories based on the region in which the agave is grown: Highland (or “highlands”) and Lowland (or “lowlands”) tequila.

Highland Tequila:

Highland tequila, also known as “Tequila de los Altos,” refers to tequila produced in the highland regions of Jalisco, which include the town of Arandas and the surrounding areas. The highland region is characterized by its higher elevation (over 7,500 feet above sea level), cooler climate, and red volcanic soil. These environmental factors influence the flavor profile of the agave plants grown in the highlands, resulting in tequilas with distinct characteristics. Highland tequilas are often described as being sweeter, fruitier, and more floral in flavor. They typically have a smoother and more rounded taste.

Lowland Tequila:

Lowland tequila, also known as “Tequila de Tierra Baja,” refers to tequila produced in the lowland regions (3,500 to 5,200 feet above sea level) of Jalisco, which include the town of Tequila and the surrounding areas. The lowland region is characterized by its lower elevation, hotter climate, and richer volcanic soil. The agave plants grown in the lowlands have a different flavor profile influenced by these factors, resulting in tequilas with distinct characteristics. Lowland tequilas are often described as having earthier and more herbal notes, with a slightly drier taste compared to highland tequilas.

Is There A Difference?

I believe so. While everyone’s palate is different, sip by sip, the qualities of both Los Altos and El Valle tequila can be distinguished. I recommend tasting with blanco tequila, the purest form of tequila.
Both highland and lowland tequilas can be excellent choices depending on personal preferences and the desired flavor profile. It’s worth noting that tequila producers can blend agaves from both regions to create a unique flavor profile that combines the characteristics of both highland and lowland tequilas. Ultimately, the choice between highland and lowland tequila comes down to personal taste and the specific flavor profiles you enjoy.

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