Typically vinos de mezcal (1) are made by cooking the heart of the agave (2) either by steaming in an autoclave or by baking in ovens (3) which is then crushed to obtain a sweet juice. This juice is then fermented and then distilled to produce the alcoholic beverages known as mezcal and tequila.
- Before the notion of Mezcal or Tequila as categories of spirits, agave based spirits from anywhere in Mexico were traditionally referred to as “Vino de Mezcal
- called “piñas” in reference to their pineapple like appearance after being trimmed for harvest. Many varieties of agave can be used (although only 1 variety can be used to produce tequila). See Post Tequila and Mezcal : A Primer : How to read a tequila or mezcal label.
- these can be large brick ovens or underground earthen pits.
Pulque is also an alcoholic beverage made from the agave but in a very different way (1). When the agave is ready to flower the maturation process of the plant is halted by removing the flower stalk (2) and creating a cavity in the heart of the plant which soon fills with a sweet liquid known as aguamiel. This liquid is then fermented to produce a thickish, milky liquid with an alcohol content similar to that of beer. Pulque is a fresh, live food. It ferments very quickly and has only a short shelf life. It becomes too sour to drink within only a few days (week at the most).
- See Posts Pulque and Pulque Production
- known as the quiote
Well it turns out that there is a new way (well actually quite an old way) of creating a vino de agave from pulque rather than from baked, juiced and fermented agave juice.
Due to the uptake in recent years of pulque production and consumption in México by a new generation of hipsters (undoubtedly the old boys in the ranchos have never stopped consuming pulque)(1) there is of course now occurring the problem of excess stock. Due to pulques short shelf life (2) and the inability (so far) to be able to bottle fresh pulque the excess pulque needs to be disposed of as it quite quickly becomes putrid smelling.
- the consumption of pulque was highly regulated during the Aztec period with punishments for its consumption potentially involving death if the rules were not followed. The arrival of the Spanish spelled an end to these restrictions which caused an uptake in its use (millionaires were born from this) which in turn caused the new government to reimpose restrictions and which caused an almost total cessation of its production and consumption (particularly in urban areas)
- and horrible stink as it decomposes
Several pulque producers are now creating a new type of vino de mezcal from excess pulque and this has come onto the market as destilado de pulque.
According to Alejandro Valdés Ordoñez, a chemical engineer who began to work on pulque distillates in Coatepec in 2019, it takes approximately 9 litres of pulque to produce a 750 millilitre bottle of destilado de pulque..