Having tequila shot

January 08, 2018

Cactus Country owner John Hall takes in the view.

As if Strathmerton’s iconic Cactus Country did not have enough in common with Mexico already, it is soon set to have its own range of tequila.

The site’s general manager John Hall said the cactus farm would soon begin producing and releasing a range of tequila made from its own agave plants.

But it may take anywhere between five to seven years until a first small batch will be ready and available to try, in line with tequila’s typical production timeline.

Mr Hall will soon embark on something of a fact finding mission, a journey likely to take him to Mexico and back, in search of how to make a decent drop of tequila.

He said while the adventure would be a long learning curve to a finished product, it was an exciting idea.

‘‘You’ve got to grow the plants for five to seven years until maturity to cut them open and start producing, start experimenting, start getting the flavours right, understanding (them),’’ Mr Hall said.

Cactus Country will likely sell the finished product directly through its shop, rather than commercially, preferring to parcel it together with the ‘‘unique experience’’ the farm offers.

Mr Hall does not profess to be a tequila professional: rather a concessioner.

‘‘Whenever I go to Mexico, I try it, tour factories... I’m certainly not an expert, but I certainly love the flavours,’’ he said.

‘‘At the moment, the focus is getting from where we are now, to producing that first batch... it’s gonna take quite bit of help.’’

‘‘It’s going to be a learning journey for anyone who tries to produce it.

‘‘We don’t doubt it’s a big project, but it’s certainly something worth looking into... an exciting journey.’’

Visitors crazy for cactus farm

It seems a Strathmerton landscape populated with cacti is a popular option for a selfie or profile picture.

Cactus Country has experienced a massive tourism influx in the past few years.

General manager John Hall said what was once about 7000 people per year visiting the unique destination had recently jumped to as high as 20000 visitors annually.

He said social media had proven a valuable platform to promote the site.

Considering the population and location of Strathmerton, Mr Hall said he never expected the family farm to be clocking up these sort of visitation numbers.

He said the Instagram and Facebook popularity of the farm had ‘‘blown up’’ with hundreds of thousands of views on some videos posted.

‘‘Tourism in general in our region has grown in the past few years,’’ Mr Hall said.

‘‘For us, our growth has been mind-blowing.

‘‘It’s been 100 per cent month-to-month for last few years.’’

He suggested Cactus Country would be looking to increase its popularity again this year.

The site was averaging about 7000 visitors per year three years ago.

Mr Hall said this year he was noticing more local visitation, alongside the regular day trippers from Melbourne.

‘‘My personal opinion is social media has blown up in a couple of ways,’’ he said.

‘‘You’ve got people who want to get an awesome snap... I think that’s a big appeal... (who) want to go to a location that’s unique and different, you can take different photos.’’

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