Mezcal Vago Cuixe
The Mezcal Vago Cuixe is made by Aquilino García López at his palenque in Candelaria Yegolé, Oaxaca (16°29'41.36"N, 96°18'38.69"W). The Agave Cuixe used for these batches is wild harvested in the surrounding hills of the Yegolé region.
Because of the scarcity of the agave, and the difficulty in harvesting and producing it, it is available in limited quantities. Batches are generally small, 300 to 600 liters each. Currently, Aquilino produces 2 batches per year. Agave Cuixe is a sub variety of Agave Karwinskii. There are many sub varieties of this particular agave including Cuixe, Madre Cuixe, Cirrial, Barril, Penca Verde, Pelon and Tobasiche. It can be difficult to distinguish which you may be drinking as the names often change from town to town. The Cuixe that Aquilino uses grow up to 3 meters, which is unusually tall for an agave plant. It has a long trunk with a tall narrow piña on top. Aquilino is meticulous in selecting only ripe Cuixe, which takes around 13 to 15 years to mature. Though it can be cultivated, Aquilino uses wild Cuixe for his mezcals.
It is an extremely laborious process to find enough ripe agave for a small batch. The agaves are brought down from the hills by burro. The leaves, or pencas, of the piña are stripped off as well as the bark of the trunk, leaving the heart of the agave and the bare trunk. Both are roasted together for 4 days (one more than normal). The Cuixe is roasted together with 10% (raw agave weight) Espadín. This adds a touch of sweetness and helps open up the natural flavor of the Cuixe and provide a lasting finish. The sugar levels in the Agave Cuixe are about 25% lower than most other agaves.
Mezcal Vago’s Cuixe is a connoisseur’s delight. The unique mouthfeel, flavor, and prolonged finish make it an outstanding and distinguished spirit.
Note re August 2014 batch:
The label on the August 2014 contains an error. The label states that the batch was made entirely from 100% Agave Cuixe. In fact, like all previous Mezcal Vago Cuixe batches, the August 2014 was made from 90% Agave Cuixe and 10% Agave Espadin. Our apologies for the confusion.
Producer: Aquilino García López.
Location: Candelaria Yegolé, Oaxaca
The still (palenque) is on Aquilino’s ranch where he lives full time. He and his father moved it to its current location 15 years ago. It has moved around from nearby locations over the years. He believes his family has been making Mezcal for at least five generations. Aquilino and his son Mateo do nearly all of the work themselves.
The fermentation vats are made of pine and hold up to 1000 liters. The cooked agave and water ferment from the natural airborne yeasts in the air. No additional ingredients are used to make the Mezcal other than agave and water.
Each batch ferments for around a week. This varies depending on the ambient temperature at the time of fermentation. Aquilino distills his fermented mash before all of the sugar has fermented. This is sooner than other Mescalero’s’ techniques. He uses six fermentation vats. Aquilino has an alembic copper still that has a 250-liter capacity. He makes all the separations (cuts) by smell and taste. All of Aquilino’s mezcals are twice distilled. Aquilino’s Mezcals have a definite style. Bright, clean and bold without too much smoke. They have less bottom end (tails) than other mezcal lines, due in part to his “narrow” cuts on the still. This really lets the subtle notes of the agave shine through on the front end of the palate. All of Aquilino’s mezcal 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.