Don Felipe Camarena was born into a family that had distilled tequila since back in the early 1800s but the family’s original distillery was destroyed and abandoned during the Mexican Revolution. As a young man Don Felipe followed his family’s roots by growing and selling agave to other distillers. He prospered and in 1937 opened La Alteña Distillery in the highlands of Los Altos close to the town of Arandas. Alteña literally translates as ‘lady from the highlands’.
Don Felipe passed the business to his son, Felipe J. Camarena Orozco, who in turn left it to his daughters, Lilianna and Gabriela, and to his son, Carlos, who as the Master Distiller continues to make tequila using the same traditional methods as his grandfather, Don Felipe.
At the La Alteña distillery, centuries old production methods are still used with traditional masonry ovens and a Tahona millwheel to crush the cooked piñas. The juice and agave fibres are then mixed by foot in a barrel before fermentation and distillation. The distillery also operates a modern roller shredder. All the tequilas produced at La Alteña are double distilled in a traditional copper pot still and predominantly aged in ex-American whiskey casks, although some other cask types are used.
Brands of tequila made at La Alteña include El Tesoro, Tapatio and Ocho.