Siete Leguas tequila is named after the favourite horse of one of Mexico's revolutionary generals, Pancho Villa. The name literally translates as 'seven leagues', a reference to the distance a man could travel by horse in one day (42 miles).
Casa Siete Leguas famously operates two distilleries, both on the hill as you drive into the small Highland town of Atotonilco el Alto with the Rio Taretan river running down the hill beside the distilleries. (Both distilleries draw their water from a spring high above, not the river). When I visited in 2010, they had recently acquired a third distillery which lies between these two distilleries. This had been silent for 30 years and was semi-derelict but building work was then underway to restore it.
The original Fabrica el Centenario distillery was established in 1952 by Don Ignacio González Vargas and this museum-like distillery uses three brick ovens to supply cooked agave to its tahona wheel, still pulled by two mules, the only tequila distillery still to do so. Here they ferment with the plant fibres using only wild yeasts (no cultured yeast is used) in four 10,000 litre fermenters. Three copper pot stills are used for the first distillation and another two for the second. One of these is the original 1952 still, held together with clips instead of bolts. The other stills date from the 1970s.
The comparatively modern Fabrica La Vencedora distillery was built in 1984 and operates five brick ovens sensibly situated below the patio where the raw piña are received, the largest capable of containing 54 tonnes. Here a relatively modern mill (with a crusher plus four mills) is employed rather than the mules. Distillation is in five copper pot stills.
Siete Leguas uses 75-80 per cent agave from their own fields and the tequila produced is blended from the production of both el Centenario and la Vencedora distilleries. Filtration prior to bottling is at ambient temperature using simple cellulose pad filters.