Madre Cuixe de Emigdio Jarquín Ramírez
We are incredibly excited to continue to bring Don Emigdio Jarquin’s magic to the world. We sent out his microbatch of Pulquero in December and his Espadín to the Southeast. Now, after a couple of months resting at the Vago office, his first 480 liter batch of Madrecuixe is ready to be enjoyed. We are excited to put out a mezcal of agave that is so prevalent around the Miahuatlán region. This batch was created from January to April, 2016 at Emigdio’s palenque in the Nanche district of Miahuatlán de Porfirio Díaz (16°39'78.7"N, 96°55'07.5"W).
The harvest for this batch of mezcal took place from January 21st - January 23rd and consisted of 177 piñas harvested from the Cerrito and Chamizal parcels. All 5,500 kilograms (1,212 lbs.) were buried to roast over 7 days from January 28th to February 4th. They were then fermented over a period of 15 days, with each of the four fermentation vats taking, on average, 8 days before distillation. This is one of the aspects of the production process that many people do not realize can have a very strong impact on the final flavors of mezcal. As agave sit cooling before being crushed, fermentation begins and bacteria begin to grow on the agave. These factors all work to produce acids and complexities to the final mezcal. As a result, mezcal produced from fermentation vats that were crushed last may have higher acids than the mezcals from the fermentation vat that was filled first. This variability speaks to the skill of the mezcalero in making cuts and blending the different portions of the batch together, in order to produce a mezcal that will pass analysis.Once fermentation was finished, Emigdio then distills his Madre Cuixe a single time on his copper refrescador still. For those unfamiliar with the process of single distillation, there is an explanation of the technique Emigdio uses later in this post.
Emigdio’s Madre Cuixe typically shoes earthy aromas of straw, burlap, wet soil, and fresh garden starch. There are also vegetal notes of tomato leaf, eucalyptus and white flower. On the palate, the entry is rich and shows characteristics of buttercream, toffee, and cooked sugar. The mid-palate becomes more vegetal in profile, showing green bell pepper, grass, and marjoram. As the taste fades into the finish, the notes of wet soil, dust, and hay linger with more notes of raw starch.
Agave Madrecuixe is one of several varieties of the Agave Karwinskii family. These agave typically grow on stalks that can reach up to 4 feet tall with the rosette or piña growing on top of the stalk, resulting in a plant that can reach heights of up to 7 feet. Agave in the Karwinskii family can often take between 15 and 18 years to mature.
Between the different sub-varieties, there are different ratios of stalk to piña which can affect the final flavor. The starches in the stalk are structured differently, such that they do not always break down during the roasting process. As a result, in sub-varieties like Cuixe and Madrecuixe that have more stalk in relation to the piña, this can result in mezcales that do have a core of agave sweetness that most are used to, but there is an overall dry and starchy quality to the mezcales that can linger on the palate. Madrecuixe typically has a larger piña than Cuixe, resulting in mezcales that do have that starchy, grassy note often associated with Cuixe, but with a touch more sweetness and body. One reason that Madrecuixe is so named is because they often grow as solitary plants surrounded by several Cuixe, as though they are protecting, or a “mother” (madre) plant. However, the Cuixe are not part of the Madrecuixe.
The distribution of Agave Karwinskii can be seen in the map below.
*Map provided by CONABIO website
Producer: Emigdio Jarquín Ramirez
Mezcal goes back in his family at least three generations, Emigdio having learned it from his grandfather. Their horno is a conical pit dug into the earth, which can hold up to 7 tons of Espadín. Emigdio usually roasts his agave for 5-7 days, which is on the longer end of an average roast. He then lets it rest in the sun to cool for one to two weeks.
They use a cement tahona lined with rocks and pulled by mule to crush their agave. Once crushed, they use four Ocote wood fermentation vats with volumes of 1,470, 1,600, 1,600, and 1,700 liters, which usually take around three days to ferment to completion.
Refrescador Still Exterior
Refrescador Still Condenser
Distillation is done in a 300 l. copper refrescador still. Refrescador is a technique that is common to the area surrounding Miahuatlán, but Vago has never used before. The still looks similar to a copper alembique still with a stainless steel cylinder surrounding it. This cylinder is then filled with water, allowing it to cool the upper part of the still. This upper chamber now acts as a condenser and sends the alcohol vapor back down into the boiler before being heated again and passing out of the still and into the condensing coil. This method essentially allows for two distillations during a single pass through the still. Cuts are made using a carizzo to test for ABV as well as taste and smell. A full capacity 300 l. still will produce, on average, 100 l. of mezcal in roughly 14 hours.
A full roast of 700 tons will produce up to 700 l. of mezcal depending upon the which agave is being used. ABV is then adjusted by using colas that have been rested with distilled water in order to preserve taste and mouthfeel. Like all Vago mezcal, Emigdio’s goes through a simple sediment filtration through a tubular cellulose filter before bottling. The bottling is done by hand in Oaxaca City. The very light filtration is the only way the mezcal is affected between when it was made on the palenque and how it ends up in the bottle.
Location: Miahuatlán de Porfirio Díaz
Don Emigdio distills outside of Miahuatlán de Porfirio Díaz. We are very proud and excited to have finally found a mezcalero from this area we can put in a Vago bottle. Miahuatlán is a historically important town in mezcal production as well as where both Aquilino and Tío Rey’s families emigrated from. By adding Emigdio to the family, we are able to extend the conversation of our history and tradition even further back in time.
Don Emigdio’s land is in the Nanche district of Miahuatlán de Porfirio Diaz, about 2 ½ hours directly South of Oaxaca City. The Palenque sits at around 4,970 ft., among gently rolling hills and shallow arroyos in a semi-arid climate. In the surrounding area grows Agave Espadín, Mexicano Verde, Tobalá, Tepeztate, Arroqueño, Pulquero, Madrecuixe, and Bicuixe (Cuixe).