Mezcal Vago Pulquero Special Release
We’ve done small batch releases before, but it doesn’t get much smaller or more special than this 15 liter gem. It was distilled by the newest member of our family, Emigdio Jarquin in Nanche, Miahuatlan de Porfirio Diaz (16°39'78.7"N, 96°55'07.5"W). This mezcal is 100% Agave Pulquero harvested in the hills surrounding Emigdio’s palenque. The entire batch of 15 liters was produced from only 2 pinas weighing 324 kilograms (714 lbs.). The pinas were roasted together with 5,400 kg. of Espadin and 88 kg. of Mexicano Verde for a period of 7 days. They were left out for 14 days and then mashed, fermented and distilled separately. The Pulquero was fermented in Ocote wood for a period of 3 days and distilled in a single pass through a copper refrescador still in August of 2015.
*A Note on Pulque
“Pulquero” and “Pulque” are used throughout Mexico to classify subspecies of several agave varieties, not all of which are used to produce the fermented agave “beer,” pulque. There are around a half-dozen varieties of agave that can be used to make pulque, commonly a. Salmiana, however this is not of them.
On the nose, the mezcal presents notes of clove and nutmeg as well as sweet dessert like toffee or creme brulee; most likely a combination of the smoke and roasted agave, but with a little vanilla. There is also a citrus backbone of grapefruit and lemon. On the palate, the citrus remains and strengthens with an addition of candied orange. In the mid-palate there is a note of green bell pepper, evolving into white and purple flowers. The candied orange then returns and lingers into the finish.
In the area around Miahuatlan, Pulquero is a subspecies of a. Americana var. Oaxacensis. This most likely sounds familiar, as it is among the more common subspecies besides Espadin used to make mezcal. However, this is also where it gets a little confusing, which is one of the great things about mezcal. A. Americana var Oaxacensis is a subvariety with several members: Arroqueno, Coyote, Sierra Negra, Blanco… Now you’re probably starting to realize why a. Americana seems so familiar; if you are lucky enough to be drinking this pulquero, you have probably drank a few Americanas in your day. With so many members within one subvariety there is an incredible array of flavors that one can discover.
The family Americana most likely originated in Northeastern Mexico and was transported into central and southern states like Jalisco and Oaxaca by Mesoamericans. These large agave that resemble Espadin in color and shape were originally used in mezcal production more commonly than Espadin, but were eventually replaced due to their lower sugar content and longer maturation time. However, thanks to people like yourselves seeking out the unknown, forgotten, and underappreciated, we are seeing more of these obscure varieties find their way to market. The industry thanks you.
While some Americanas like Arroqueno can take up to 25 years to mature, these Pulquero matured rather quickly (~12 years) for their size (~160kg.). This could very possibly be due to the low elevation, full sun exposure and semi-arid climate of the Miahuatlan region.
Producer: Emigdio Jarquin 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 Espadin. 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.
Distillation is done in a 300 l. copper refrescador still. Refrescador is a technique that is common to the area surrounding Miahuatlan, 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
Emigdio distills outside of Miahuatlan de Porfirio Diaz. We are very proud and excited to have finally found a mezcalero from this area we can put in a Vago bottle. Miahuatlan is a historically important town in mezcal production as well as where both Aquilino and Tio 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.
Emigdio’s land is in the Nanche district of Miahuatlan 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 Espadin, Mexicano Verde, Tobala, Tepeztate, Arroqueno, Pulquero, Madre Cuixe, and Bicuixe (Cuixe).