VOLUME 09 - Side A
2010 Espadín - Felipe Cortes
Papalote Capón - Ciro Barranca
Pechuga - Lalo Ángeles
50.20% March, 2010
Mengoli de Morelos, Miahuatlán, Oax.
By the spring of 2021, we’d been visiting Felipe for five years or so and had tasted everything in his bodega at least a few times. After tasting the new batches he’d produced since our last visit, we mentioned that we knew someone looking for 500 liters of espadín, and asked if that was something he expected to make in the coming months.
“I can give you 500 liters today,” Felipe said with a grin.
The biggest batch in the bodega was maybe 350 liters. Thinking this was the setup to some kind of joke, we played along. "Sure, let’s do it.“
Felipe led us to his bedroom, and like an artist revealing a statue, he pulled back a bedsheet covering a giant flex-tank filled with espadín that had been resting in there since 2010.
Things aren’t supposed to be rare and plentiful at the same time, but there we were, tasting an 11 (now almost 13) year-old batch from one of our favorite producers - already a good day - and it was big enough we could share it with more than a few friends. A delicious, delicious contradiction.
the spirit itself has had a chance to change and develop over time. When people talk about aging in other spirits categories, they’re mostly focused on the alcohol’s extraction of flavors and colors from the wood in which it’s being stored. When it comes to agave spirits rested in glass or well-cured, food-grade plastic containers, there isn’t any extraction of new flavors, but there is still the development of existing flavors. Like someone experiencing drinking Malort for the first time, molecules that were once liquid, vaporized and returned to a liquid state don’t arrive on the other side of that existential trauma as fully relaxed as they may be weeks, months, and years later. Volatile aromatic compounds dissipate during the first several months, oxidation starts to take effect, and slowly but surely, the flavors and aromas of the spirit begin to reorganize themselves, becoming less bombastic and more integrated. Depending on the batch, that may make it better, worse, or just different.
50.4% May, 2022
Ahuacuotzintla, Chilapa de Álvarez, GRO.
When Ciro Barranca passed away in May of this year, the mezcal community in Guerrero lost one of its great leaders, and mezcal lovers around the world lost a legend whose bottles traveled the world far beyond the small community where he lived and worked.
Don Ciro valued hard work above all else. He attributed his success as a mezcalero not to any particular talent, but to his love of hard work. Even as age and cancer made him too weak to continue doing much of the physical labor, he took great pride in watching the hardwork of his grandsons in the fields and his fabrica, and great pleasure in passing down the knowledge he learned from his uncles to the generation that will continue apply it beyond his lifetime.
Ciro’s grandson, Javier, spent the past 8 years as Ciro's apprentice and caretaker, and remembers him as a well of positivity - even when criticizing his work. Talking about the early days of his apprenticeship, when he turned out a few bad batches mezcal, “he would say, 'If you didn’t do a good job on this batch, don’t give up, we’ll go on to the next one, and if you don’t do a good job on that one, no problem, because the one after that will have to come out good.’” His constant refrain was “¡Rendirse jamás!” or “Never give up!”
In addition to being the source of so many great bottles, Ciro was a source of sobriety for many as well. He gave up drinking in 1990 and founded a chapter of Alcohólicos Anónimos that met next to his distillery, where it continues today.
Ciro completed Batch 0522CB just a few weeks before his passing. While the majority of the batch continues to rest, we’re proud to share a bit of it in Agave Mixtape.
47% August, 2022
Santa Catarina Minas, Oax.
An otherwise finished batch of tobasiche-espadín (2x distilled, and composed) is returned to the still, and a mix of banana, pineapple, apple, apricot almonds, raisins, anise, orange peels, sugar and rice is added to the pot. A gallina criolla (organic hen raised on Lalo’s farm) is butchered and cleaned, and suspended above the liquid by a string. A fire is lit, and the liquid is distilled for a third time, extracting the flavors of the botanicals and fat from the chicken, which is fully cooked by the hot vapors.
Talking about this specific batch, Lalo said, “it’s a very fresh mezcal. This mezcal in particular is the one we put on the ofrenda [for día de los muertos], and after muertos, we will leave on the altar [at the palenque]. Fans of Lalo’s cult classic rainy season pechuga batch, may be excited to see that this new batch was distilled in August (during Oaxaca’s rainy season), but sadly this was a very dry year, without any rain at the time the plants were harvested, and the batch is without any of the “rainy season” character.
While every batch of pechuga is special, there’s some added excitement around it this year after none was produced in 2021 because a limited amount of mature tobasiche meant that by the time the base was ready, many of the fruits were out of season.
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