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Mezcal Vago Madre Cuixe de Emigdio Jarquín

From the importer:

We are incredibly excited to continue to bring Don Emigdio Jarquin’s magic to the world. We send 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 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 distilled this batch 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. Once all of the agave were crushed and allowed to dry ferment for four days, 442.91 liters of water from Emigdio’s well were added to produce a final volume of 5377.27 liters of tepache. The tepache was then distilled over a period of 8 days between February 22nd and March 1st. The single distillation method produced 443 liters of mezcal at 55.5% ABV. On March 4th, Emigdio then blended 53 liters of water with 21 liters of colas at 45% ABV. The mezcal and blend of water and colas were both then left to rest separately for 4 weeks. Then, final adjustment to proof was made on April 3rd by blending the mezcal with 40 liters of the water/cola mixture, producing a final batch of 483 liters at 51.7% ABV.

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.

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).

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