FAQ

General Tour

  • We created this category of tourism over a decade ago. We offer access, depth of knowledge, and hospitality that is second to none. This is not a hobby, side project, or way of promoting a spirits brand. This is our profession, and our record speaks for itself.
  • Our expert team is comprised of bilingual English speakers who live in Mexico, with strong roots in the communities and cultures that our tours explore.
  • We are fully insured. Our Tour Operators policy is underwritten by AON Affinity.

Safety is our top priority. In over a decade of operation, we have never had a single incident. Nearly all of the terrible stories you hear about Mexico involve people involved with or physically near the drug business. As a foreign tourist, if you stay away from that business, safety shouldn’t be an issue. Our advice is to exercise the same common sense that you would anywhere in the world, leave jewelry and nice watches at home, and don’t flaunt large amounts of cash.

We understand that you don’t want to be part of a flock of tourists so we keep our group sizes small. Many of our guests are very experienced independent travelers who understand that our relationships and connections unlock access to small distilleries, restaurants and cultural events that simply aren’t open or accessible to other travelers. Our goal is for you to have a very personal experience that happens to be stress-free. Experience how relaxing it is to leave all the details to us.

Our small groups (eight to ten guests) typically have a mix of solo travelers, couples, and friends or family members traveling together. Due to the intimate nature of our experiences, the social skills of our staff, and a shared interest in Mexican spirits, our groups quickly establish a comfortable social dynamic.

Absolutely! We have over a decade of experience in creating tailor-made experiences for groups as small as two and as large as 40. Whether you have a single day to spare, or want a week-long deep dive, we can customize distillery visits, restaurants, lodging, and other experiences to your standards.

We sure can, let’s talk. We have over a decade of experience in creating tailor-made experiences for groups as small as two and as large as 40. Whether you have a single day to spare, or want a week-long deep dive, we can customize distillery visits, restaurants, lodging, and other experiences to your high standards.

You will receive an automatic confirmation email upon booking. For day tours, this is the only confirmation you will receive. For four-day tours, expect to hear from us shortly thereafter asking for your flight info (if not provided at booking), proof of insurance, etc. You will also hear from us about a week before your tour with a last-minute weather update. Of course, you’re welcome to email us at any time!

While we carry a one-million-dollar-per-incident Tour Operator insurance policy, we do require guests to purchase a travel insurance policy for the duration of your experience. This may come in handy for any minor medical needs, including reimbursement for medication.

No, but we’ll be at the airport to greet you when you arrive.

For tequila experiences – GDL (Guadalajara – Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla International Airport)

For mezcal experiences – OAX (Oaxaca – Xoxocotlán International Airport)

For raicilla experiences – PVR (Puerto Vallarta – Licenciado Gustavo Díaz Ordaz International Airport)

You do need a passport that is valid for at least six months from your date of entry. You will receive a small card on the airplane and have it approved by Mexican immigration at the airport. Keep it safe with your passport. If you do not have it when you leave, you will have to wait in line, pay a fine, and may very well miss your flight home.

You will fill out your immigration form on the plane. An immigration official will approve and stamp the lower portion. Make sure to keep it with your passport, as you’ll need it to leave the country. You’ll then claim any checked luggage, and pass through customs. An official may ask you if you have anything to declare, and your luggage will be put through a scanner. You may have to push a large button that will light up either a red or green light. If you get the red light, a customs officer will search your bags in your presence. 

Strongly consider applying for the Global Entry program if you travel abroad even once a year. It saves a lot of time getting through US immigration and customs. If you don’t have Global Entry, you’ll wait in line and present your passport to an immigration officer. They will generally ask how long you were in Mexico and why you were there. After clearing immigration, you’ll claim any checked luggage, and proceed to customs. This is where you declare anything that requires a duty to be paid. 

For day tours, we will pick you up at your hotel or rental. For four-day and custom tours, one of our drivers will greet you with an Experience Agave placard at the airport and transport you to your hotel.

Every experience includes a professional driver and a comfortable, air-conditioned, insured, late-model vehicle. Most four-day experiences feature Mercedes-Benz Sprinter. The vans are equipped with USB phone charger outlets (bring your own charging cord), bottled water and snacks. Vehicles used for day and custom tours vary according to group size.

Your luggage will be loaded into the van each morning and will be safely locked in it throughout the day so you don’t have to worry about transporting it. Please help us keep to the itinerary by having your luggage ready to go at the specific hour each morning.

The itinerary includes a few hours of free time each afternoon for you to explore the area, nap, swim or do whatever makes you happy.

Packing

Dress in comfortable clothes and good walking shoes. Cobblestone streets are common in the regions we visit, and sidewalks aren’t always well-maintained, so we don’t recommend cowboy boots or heels. We will be at high elevation with lots of sun, so bring a hat and plenty of sunscreen. Plan for warm days and cool nights – you’ll want a light jacket, sweater or wrap for nighttime. In general, Mexicans dress more formally than North Americans. You may want to bring one nicer outfit for going out at night. Be sure and heed our last minute updates on weather, especially if traveling during Mexico’s rainy season (June-September).

Please note that Mexicans generally dress more formally than North Americans. Men do not wear shorts unless swimming. As a foreigner, it is fine, for both men and women, to wear shorts and tank tops, though you will stand out, and women in particular should expect extra attention.

Mexico operates on the same type of electric current as the US – your phone charger, razor, etc. will work just fine. If you are going to bring a laptop we strongly recommend a good surge protector, as power surges are also common.

If you bring prescription medication, bring it in its original packaging to avoid confusion. Over the counter medications are widely available in Mexico, and pharmacists can provide prescription medication for mild ailments after a consultation. Pharmacists will not sell narcotics or psychotropic medications without a valid prescription. Entering the US and most other countries with prescription drugs for which you do not have a valid prescription is a serious crime. Please do not ask our team members to help you obtain medication which is not for an immediate medical need.

Yes! There are two things you shouldn’t leave home without: a universal sink plug (the flat kind – crucial if you use the sink to shave or for contact lenses) and ear plugs for sleeping. Mexico is a loud country, fond of fireworks, sometimes at all hours of the night.

Weather

Mexico is warm and dry most of the year. We tend to avoid scheduling experiences during the rainy season (June-early September), which features near daily thunderstorms. However, climate change is a reality in Mexico and the weather is increasingly unpredictable. We recommend bringing a light jacket just in case.

Water + Food

Yes, this is true. The locals don’t drink from the tap, but brushing your teeth with it is fine

You will have access to bottled water at all times during our experiences.

The water and ice served in restaurants, cafes, bars, shops and street stands is purified. Keep in mind that drinking water is called agua natural. If you just ask for “agua” it is generally assumed that you want agua fresca.

Yes, all meals and beverages are included in the cost.

Yes, just let us know your dietary restrictions before booking. Our team is well equipped to help you navigate the menus at all restaurants.

All the establishments we dine in are our trusted partners. However, some people have very sensitive stomachs and will need time to adjust to the local cuisine and microbes. If you want to be extra cautious, avoid raw fruits and vegetables that don’t need to be peeled (lettuce, tomatoes, grapes, etc).

It is crucial to stay hydrated, especially at high elevation. Drink at least six glasses of water a day. We will provide you bottled water all day long, drink it!. Many people swear by vitamin B pills to avoid hangovers and for general resiliency.

While our guests seldom get sick, there are two overwhelming causes when they do: airport food, and not washing hands. Always wash or sanitize your hands before eating. When soap and water isn’t available, our team will provide you with sanitizing hand gel.

Real Mexican food is sometimes surprisingly different than what foreigners expect. The food you have access to in restaurants and on the street is also not quite what people eat in their homes. The cuisine is very meat-centric – mostly pork, but beef, chicken, goat, mutton or seafood are at the center of most dishes, though we can definitely accommodate vegetarians.

The most common vegetables are tomatoes, onions. cucumbers, jicama and carrots (the latter usually pickled). Most food isn’t actually that spicy, though there is always a wide variety of freshly made sauces varying in spiciness.

Regional dishes you may want to try include the famous torta ahogada (“drowned sandwich” – kind of like an au jus made with pork and a sourdough roll, drowned in mild tomato broth that you can spice up to taste), birria (usually goat stew, but sometimes made with beef), carne en su jugo (“meat in its juice” – similar to chili and made with beef, bacon and beans) and chile enogada (a mild chile stuffed with minced meat and bathed in a nut gravy, garnished with pomegranate seeds).

Mexican ice cream is a real treat, and comes in two classes – de agua and de leche. The former is similar to sorbets and popsicles and is made from a wide variety of fruits that may be new to you. The latter is similar to ice cream in the US, but lighter and softer. You will see agua fresca (“fresh water”) everywhere in large plastic jugs, these are refreshingly natural soft drinks made from fruit (or rice or hibiscus flowers), water and sugar.

Accommodations

You can expect the same amenities as at hotels in your home country, although the hotels in the Jalisco Highlands are more basic and offer less amenities. If you have any problems that the hotel reception cannot handle, please notify a team member. Most of our partner hotels feature a pool, restaurant and bar. Make sure and check our specific itinerary.

Our partner hotel are safe and trustworthy. We have been using them for years without incident. You can always leave valuable, cash, or important documents with reception if you prefer. Some of the older hotels still use physical keys rather than keycards. In those cases, you should leave your room key with the front desk when you go out. This is standard practice so that keys cannot be lost or misplaced.

Spirits

Our experiences are about tasting and learning, not over-consumption. Spirits will be served in moderate amounts over the course of an entire day. At no time is any guest obligated to taste or drink more than they wish. We even occasionally have guests who don’t drink at all. Bottled water and snacks will be provided to you in the van as well as at distilleries. Please stay hydrated, fed, and know your limits. Alcohol may hit you harder in the heat and at elevation than you may be used to. Our team will make sure you have fun, stay safe, and learn. But please remember that only you are ultimately responsible for yourself and your actions.

Yes! Most of our guests purchase bottles to bring home with them. The strictest limit on bringing liquor back is set by the airlines, not the government. You are responsible for knowing your airline’s limit. It is usually 5 liters per passenger. The US government allows you to bring back an amount of liquor reasonable for personal consumption, subject to a duty above 1 liter.

Keep in mind though that individual states can set their own limits on bringing liquor back. The state where you first land is where you will clear customs, and the laws of that state will apply. Ultimately, you are individually responsible for knowing the regulations of the country and state you are entering.

Please plan for packing alcohol before you leave home, as you probably won’t have time to acquire extra luggage or packing materials in Mexico. If you are bringing back bottles, a hard-side (plastic) suitcase is highly recommended. Using your clothes as packing material saves space.

Internet

All our partner hotels have free wireless internet access, although it may not reach all rooms equally.

Phones

Most mobile providers now offer service in Mexico. Check with your wireless company to see what charges apply.

In the event of an emergency, if your phone is not in service, a team member can be reached at +1-503-922-1774. You will also receive the mobile number of the team members who will be accompanying you.

Language

Our team members are fully bilingual and are there to explain and interpret all that you experience, while keeping you safe and comfortable. If you speak Spanish, you may be surprised by the regional versions spoken here, and if you speak a little or are studying, this is the perfect opportunity to practice in the real world with native speakers. If you speak none at all, remember that smiles are universally understood, and good manners are essentially the same. Por favor (please), gracias (thank you) and disculpe (excuse me) go a long way!

Money

No, you will need Mexican pesos in the regions we visit. Please do not put your team members or fellow guests in the position of having to loan you money. ATMs are widespread, offer the best exchange rates, and we highly recommend using them. Airport money changers give bad rates—it’s better to hit an ATM on your way out of the airport, or around the corner from the hotel. You should check with your bank about their fees. Most charge a nominal flat fee per transaction. Be aware that the exchange rates shown online and in most currency conversion applications are the interbank rate- generally far “better” than what actual humans get when changing money.

Mexican businesses are notoriously short on change. 500 peso notes in particular  are hard to unload so be sure to use them in chain convenience stores, nicer restaurants and hotels.

Once you’ve landed, all of your costs are covered with the exception of bottles purchased at the distillery to take home, any goods or souvenirs and tips for housekeeping, taxis and our team. You know your own spending habits and there are ATMs accessible should you need more pesos.

Yes, you can, although they are much less frequently accepted in Mexico than in other countries. Make sure you have some cash, too. Remember to advise your bank and/or credit card company that you will be out of the country, otherwise they may freeze your account due to fraud concerns.

No, travelers’ checks are practically useless these days.

Food, clothing, services and handicrafts are cheap by US standards, while alcohol and soft drinks are closer to their US prices. Finished and luxury goods (e.g., electronics) are relatively expensive.

Tipping

Most Mexican workers make less than US $5/day, and tips are appreciated. We tip wait staff at all meals on the official itinerary. Otherwise, 15% for waitstaff is standard, although employees in nicer bars and restaurants usually expect closer to 20%. In more modest eateries, leaving what loose change you have handy is usually fine. The latter is also appropriate for taxi drivers. Tips for housekeeping staff should be left in your room when you check out. If you are satisfied with the Experience Agave team, a tip at the end of the tour is appropriate.

Cultural Insights

ALTITUDE: Due to the elevation in the regions we visit, alcohol may hit you harder. Take your time and know your limits!

DRESS: Mexicans generally dress more formally than North Americans. Men do not wear shorts unless swimming. As a foreigner, it is fine (for both men and women) to wear shorts and tank tops, though you will stand out, and women in particular should expect extra attention.

PLUMBING: Mexico generally has old plumbing, so the norm is to place used toilet paper in the wastebasket next to the toilet, even in nicer hotels. It will probably take some getting used to, but is better than dealing with a clogged toilet in Spanish, no?

TIMING: Please keep in mind that Mexico is a large, developing country of many complications, where few things happen on time and many things just don’t work. It is important though, that our group respect the distilleries by being on time and keeping to the schedule. Please be on time and do not make unreasonable requests of our team members.

TRAFFIC: Traffic is the biggest danger in Mexico, by far. Many roads are poorly maintained, the rules of the road are different than in North America, and Mexican driving can appear erratic to foreigners. Do not jaywalk, stick with groups when crossing the street, and do not assume that cars will stop for you. This is especially true in Guadalajara.

PUBLIC DRINKING: This is technically illegal but often allowed in practice. We do not recommend drinking on the street in Guadalajara, Oaxaca City or the Jalisco Highlands, where you may attract the attention of bribe-seeking police. As long as you behave yourself, you won’t likely have a problem in Tequila, at the coast, or in smaller villages. Use your head and be respectful. Remember that you are an ambassador for your country.

DRUGS: Just say no, period. Getting anywhere near illegal drug activity in Mexico is a very bad idea, and grounds for immediate removal from the tour. Please be respectful and don’t turn our team members into police officers. Be advised that the Mexican legal system is of the “guilty until proven innocent” nature, no legal representation is provided, and jail conditions are better left unmentioned. There is no distinction between “soft” and “hard” drugs in Mexico, especially as regards the people who sell them.

POLICE: You may notice more police on the street than you do at home. They will certainly be more heavily armed. This does not indicate any kind of trouble—everywhere we are going is safe. A heavy police presence is seen as reassuring in Mexico. Be aware that Mexican police regularly drive around with their flashing overhead lights on, this does not mean anyone has to pull over, or that anything at all is happening.

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