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In 1991 Billy and Akaisha Kaderli retired at the age of 38. Now, into their 4th decade of this financially independent lifestyle, they invite you to take advantage of their wisdom and experience.

Tequila Buying Adventures

in The Golden Triangle

Arandas, Mexico

Whatever it is, tequila probably can't fix it, but it's worth a shot! - Jimmy Buffett

Billy and Akaisha Kaderli

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Imagine living in the best wine regions of France, California, Spain, Italy, Chile or Argentina.

Imagine any birthday, wedding, anniversary, graduation or celebration of the markers of life observed with an appropriate selection from the best of the region's distilled grapes.

Now, imagine you live in The Golden Triangle of Tequila in Mexico, where the best tequilas in the country are made.


We live about 2 hours from our favorite tequila finca, El Pandillo, in Jesus Maria, Mexico.

The route we took, Chapala to Arandas, Mexico

The route we took, Chapala to Arandas, Mexico

We have been to El Pandillo previously and wanted to visit again, bringing a world-traveling friend of ours, Paul.

But first, we decided to have lunch in Arandas, one of the 3 cities named in that famous Golden Triangle of Tequila-Making.

We were going to make a day of it, and hired our private driver, Arturo, for 2,000Pesos for the day (about $100USD).

Leaving about 10:30 in the morning of a glorious day, we arrived in Arandas, Mexico about 2 hours later.

Church of San Jose Obrero

Church of San Jose Obrero





We had a bit of time to kill, and the Church of San Jose Obrero in the center of town is stunning. It was worth another look before we went to our restaurant for lunch.

This church was begun in 1879 and is still under construction today! Just as in the "olden days" when a large church was being built, those who started the construction were not alive when the building was finished. The back of this church still had rebar and was sectioned off to prevent accidents to passers by on the sidewalk.

Inside San Jose Obrero Church, Arandas, Mexico

Inside San Jose Obrero Church, Arandas, Mexico

The inside of the church was elegant as a service was being held. Music echoed throughout.

Billy and Akaisha in front of San Jose Obrero Church, Arandas, Mexico

Billy and Akaisha in front of the church

As many of the churches of the time when San Jose Obrero was built, this one reflects the Notre Dame style.

After about 20 minutes or so of wandering around the Plaza, Arturo took us to our chosen restaurant for lunch, Rincon De Bariloche.

Since this restaurant was an Argentine grill, it was named after a resort city in the foothills of the Andes in Argentina, famous for its skiing.

Bread with dips at Rincon De Bariloche in Arandas, Mexico

Bread with dips at Restaurant Rincon De Bariloche

It was 1pm - early for any self-respecting Argentine to be eating - so we entered an empty restaurant.

The menu was varied, as we expected, with cuts of meat, fresh seafood, salads and pastas.

After giving the waiter our order, fresh warm herbed bread with several dipping sauces was brought out.

Notice the black ball next to the sliced loaf. This is butter, rolled in ashed habanero pepper skin. It sort of looked like a truffle, so we asked about it.

Ojo de Res, Rincon De Bariloche, Arandas, Mexico

Ojo de Bife

Billy and I both ordered the Rib Eye, our friend Paul ordered the Vacio, and our driver wanted the sirloin hamburger.

Notice the branding mark of capital "B" on the zucchini - "B" for Bariloche. The top of the sirloin hamburger was similarly branded.

Our bill for 4 people at Rincon De Bariloche, Arandas, Mexico

Our bill for 4 people

Before tip, our bill for 4 people came to $73USD.

We were not here to wine and dine, and needed to get going to the finca, as they close to the public at 4pm.

The Rib Eye was $16USD per portion, the Vacio (a flank steak) was about $15USD, and the sirloin hamburger was just over $9USD. Glasses of the house red were about $4.50USD each.

G4 Anejo tequila, El Pandillo, Jesus Maria, Mexico

G4 Anejo tequila, El Pandillo, Jesus Maria, Mexico

Arturo drove us to El Pandillo distillery, where Felipe Camarena, his son, Allen, and Oscar, the Chemist were waiting for us. We have been through the tour previously, but our friend, Paul wanted to see the famous tahona, Frankenstein.

So Allen gave us a quick tour.

G4, representing the 4 generations of the Camarena family members making this fine tequila, is their special brand.

Raw agave pinas at El Pandillo distillery, Jesus Maria, Mexico

Raw agave pinas at El Pandillo distillery, Jesus Maria, Mexico

When the hearts of the agave plants are harvested out in the fields by jimadores and brought to the distillery, they weigh about 30 kilos each.

Jimadores must cut them in half before they are placed into the stone ovens to cook for 22 hours.


Jimadores slicing unroasted pinas, El Pandillo, Jesus Maria, Mexico

Jimadores slicing unroasted pinas with their coa de jimas

Jimadores use a special cutter called a coa de jimas, or simply "coa."

The way the agave is harvested has remained the same for several centuries, and jimadores have been using the same tools and methods for generations.

Most people don't know this, but without these skilled workers, tequila production wouldn't be possible.

That's because jimadores are able to go to the unreachable destinations and hillsides where the agave grows. No truck could hang on such a slanted hillside as some of these locations are.

Jimadores removing the flower and bitter leaves from agave pina, El Pandillo, Jesus Maria, Mexico

Jimadores removing the flower and bitter leaves from agave pina

At this time in history, there is still no machine that can do what jimadores do with their coas. This skill is passed on from generation to generation, and they take pride in their work.

Cuts to the pina have to be made at a certain angle, so that the spines don't get roasted along with the center pina, giving the end product a bitter flavor.

It takes a team of six or seven people about four hours to fill a 20-ton truck with agave, which is then taken to the distillery where it is cooked, crushed, and fermented into tequila.

Raw agave pinas in oven before roasting, El Pandillo, Jesus Maria, Mexico

Raw agave pinas in oven before roasting

Jimadores are also responsible for quality control. They select which agave plants — those that are the healthiest and highest quality — to harvest. Depending on the policy of the finca, agave plants are ready to harvest between 8 years and 12 years old.

Some fincas want to "push" the sugar, and others want a cleaner, finer, less sweet taste.

Roasted agave pinas in wheelbarrows, El Pandillo, Jesus Maria, Mexico

Roasted agave pinas in wheelbarrows

Pinas are loaded into the ovens and water is sent in to remove the dirt and debris. This takes about 3 hours to have that process finish and the water drained.

Then the heat comes on from various locations in the stone oven - both above and below - to make heating more consistent. The pina cooks for another 22 hours before being removed and placed into these wheelbarrows.

At this point, the agave sugars are present, and any of these leaves can be pulled and eaten like a caramel honey treat.

One simply pulls the agave fiber through your teeth, scraping the sweetness out.

The famous Frankenstein Tahona, first of its kind

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The cooked pinas are then put on a conveyor belt up to a shredder where they are pulverized, and put into this flat holder, with drainage on the sides for the "agua miel" (honey water)  to pass through.

With water in the center to add weight, this 1 horsepower mechanical tahona weighs about 8,000 kilos! It takes 4 minutes to travel one pass over the fibers and 4 minutes to return.

The juices are squished through, and then drain into tanks to be prepared for fermentation.

In the "olden days" a large volcanic rock would be pulled by mules over and over in a slanted circle to crush these agave fibers. Today, the mechanical tahona is used by this distillery.

Vats to hold the liguid from the crushed agave, El Pandillo, Jesus Maria, Mexico

Vats to hold the liquid from the crushed agave

El Pandillo distillery prides ittself on its ecological and practical use of energy. Almost everything is gravity fed and there are only a few places where pumps are used.

Copper stills, El Pandillo, Jesus Maria, Mexico

Copper stills

Copper is preferred in the construction of a still and is an excellent conductor of heat:, dispersing it  evenly across the entire surface of the metal. This creates a more even distillation.

Copper will not put harmful chemicals into the final product, and tequila masters say copper simply tastes better. It has to do with a chemical reaction with the yeast, canceling out the sulfur taste which would add a bitter flavor to the tequila.

Master Tequila Maker, Felipe Carmarena, El Pandillo, Jesus Maria, Mexico

Master Tequila Maker, Felipe Carmarena

We have met and spoken with Felipe several times. This man is passionate about his work, and his product. He knows every facet of the process, has been taught by his own father, who was taught by his father... and Felipe is teaching his own sons the business, hence G4, the 4th Generation.

G4 and Terralta tequilas, El Pandillo, Jesus Maria, Mexico

G4 and Terralta tequilas

Felipe has often told us the the #1, most important ingredient in making tequila is the water.

His finca has 3 sources of water to continue production: collected rain water, pure spring water, and deep well water.

Depending on the mix of the waters in the distillation, the profile of the product changes significantly.

They will use the same agave plants from the same fields, but mix the water differently, and the flavors of the tequilas will be different.

We came to taste some new tequilas since our last visit - G4 now produces an anejo and an extra anejo. We also wanted to try the Terralta anejo and extra anejo as well.

Some tequila factories try to "wow" customers with fancy bottles of different colors, shapes, sizes and shades. Felipe has said "I'm not in the business of making fancy bottles. I'm in the business of making great tequila."

Billy and Akaisha with our friend, Paul, El Pandillo tasting room, Jesus Maria, Mexico

Billy, our friend Paul, and Akaisha

Here we are, looking forward to doing some tasting.

Oscar, the Chemist at El Pandillo, Jesus Maria, Mexico

Oscar, the Chemist at El Pandillo

Oscar lays out the two brands of tequila - Terralta and G4 - ranging from the blancos, reposados, anejos and extra anejo.

We could choose what we wanted to taste in order to make a purchase.

In the States, Terralta Blanco runs about $40USD per bottle. Terralta Reposado, about $53USD per bottle, Terralta Anejo around $60USD and Terralta Extra Anejo around $120USD per bottle.

G4 tequilas with tasting fllute, El Pandillo, Jesus Maria, Mexico

G4 tequilas with tasting flute

In the States, G4 Blancos go for $44USD, G4 Reposado about $50USD, G4 Anejo about $90USD and G4 Extra Anejo up to $140USD.

Tequila order, El Pandillo, Jesus Maria, Mexico

Tequila order





This was our order, paying Mexican pricing and with a discount.

Total came to about $660USD.

Cash payment for tequila order, El Pandillo, Jesus Maria, Mexico

Cash payment for tequila order

We thought it would be fun to lay the cash out for our order and take a photo of it.

We don't get up here very often, so we splurged!

We highly recommend that if you are in the Highlands of Mexico, in the Golden Triangle area of Tequila Making, that you visit this distillery.

El Pandillo Distillery in Jesús María, Jalisco (Nom #1579)

For more information, photos and stories about Mexico, CLICK HERE

For more information on tequila, CLICK HERE

The most extensive tequila database on earth, Tequila Matchmaker

VIDEOS, VIDEOS, VIDEOS! See Mexico for yourself! Beaches, Bars, Babes, Great Food, Live Music.


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About the Authors

Billy and Akaisha Kaderli are recognized retirement experts and internationally published authors on topics of finance, medical tourism and world travel. With the wealth of information they share on their award winning website, they have been helping people achieve their own retirement dreams since 1991. They wrote the popular books, The Adventurer’s Guide to Early Retirement and Your Retirement Dream IS Possible available on their website bookstore or on

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