While visiting El Centenario distillery in the highlands region I got to see a Tahona working in action. The distillery produces Siete Lequas which is named after Pancho Villa’s horse.
A Tahona is basically a 1-2 thousand pound wheel that is moved by mules in a circular fashion to crush the cooked agave to extract the pulp and get it ready for fermentation. Here’s a pic of a Tahona at El Centenario. It’s both nostalgic and impressive to see:
At El Centenario they work the mules in two shifts, at 6am and 11:30am, for an hour and a half each time. The pulp and fiber are then removed by hand to be fermented – labor intensive for sure.
Want to learn more about the Tahona? I suggest starting at TequilaSource.com which has nice alternative definition.