Mescal has risen in popularity in the U.S. over the last decade, but it’s long been a spirit staple in Mexico. Some of the very best, Potosinos will tell you, comes from San Luis Potosí, thanks to the region’s slow-growing agaves, or magueys as they’re known in Mexico. A stark desert landscape dotted with cacti and brush trees unfolds outside the city limits on your way to Molienda Antigua Dorada, a 300-year-old mescal distillery located 45 minutes outside of the city. Time your visit to a production day, when agave piñas—the pineapple-like heart of the plant—are roasted, juiced, and fermented. Unlike newer mescal producers, which rely on stainless steel machinery throughout the distilling process, Antigua Dorada still uses centuries-old production methods: agaves are roasted in primitive ovens lined with oak, and plant fibers are juiced with a massive stone wheel, steps that distillers swear by to give the spirit its rich, smoky flavor. After a tour of the plant and a walk around the grounds, you’ll sample days-old mescals (unlike wine, mescals and tequilas aren’t meant to be aged); you can also buy bottles to take home. On your way back to town, request to have lunch at La Cabana, a modest roadside restaurant that attracts serious weekend crowds craving its handmade gorditas (corn tortilla pockets) filled with rice and mole or chicken and cheese and served with fresh salsa.
Molienda Antigua Dorada is located in Santa Teresa, in the Potosino Highlands, roughly a 45-minute drive from the Conrad. (The distillery has no phone or website.) The Conrad concierge can help you book your excursion and distillery.