Mezcal Vago Elote
The Mezcal Vago Elote is made by Aquilino García López at his palenque in Candelaria Yegolé, Oaxaca (16°29'41.36"N, 96°18'38.69"W).
The Elote uses the same Agave Espadín grown above Aquilino’s palenque in Candelaria Yegolé as the Mezcal Vago Espadín, but is infused with toasted corn. It has traditionally been made for special occasions like weddings or baptisms.
Aquilino García López is a farmer and grows corn and beans to feed his family. The corn often grows alongside the agave rows above his palenque, and when dried is used to make tortillas and the stalks fed to the animals. These same dry kernels used for the tortillas are what he uses to infuse the mezcal.
The base for the mezcal is a single distilled Mezcal Espadín. The dried kernels of corn are toasted on a comal (clay, flat, wood fired pan for making tortillas) and placed in the the still with the mezcal to infuse it’s flavor. The corn never ferments, it is strictly used as a flavor infusion, therefore the Mezcal Vago Elote is a 100% agave spirit. The batch is then distilled a second time, resulting in a clear joven mezcal with a subtle Mexican corn flavor.
Before Mezcal Vago, Aquilino infused his Mezcal Espadín with corn in between the second and an extra third distillation. Now that he is consistently distilling the Elote for Mezcal Vago, he has changed his technique to save precious resources. The change was minute, yet Aquilino and Mezcal Vago agree the Elote flavor is superior only twice distilled.
This mezcal is unique to Aquilino’s family. Corn and Agave are the staples of Mexico. The Mezcal Vago Elote represents the true essence of Mexico.
The Elote has a beautiful mouthfeel with a little more body than the Mezcal Vago Espadín. The corn infusion is subtle. The aroma has hints of indigenous Mexican corn and toasted nuts. The food pairings with this mezcal are limited only by one’s imagination. The Elote is an excellent “gateway” mezcal for whiskey connoisseurs. It’s uniqueness has been instrumental in helping Mezcal Vago gain respect from the agave spirit aficionado community. It is outstanding on its own or as a key ingredient in craft cocktails.
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.