Neta Espadin Capon
Though the variety of Agave angustifolia commonly known as Espadín is now widespread in Oaxaca, it is not actually native to the region. Some claim that Espadín began to appear in Oaxaca as early as the 1930’s, but most references date its arrival several decades later when government programs and Matatlán-based business interests began to promote its cultivation. Because Espadín yields well, reproduces easily, and matures quickly, it is prized as a cash crop and is planted widely throughout the state. However, a spirit made from this agave should not be overlooked just because of the ubiquity of its raw material. In fact, precisely for this reason, Espadín serves as an excellent lens for understanding the different terrains and production methods of Oaxaca. A quality Espadín, like this 2015 production from maestro Cándido García Cruz, is a reflection both of the spirit’s place of origin and the skill of its maker.
Don Cándido made this 200-liter batch with capón agaves, meaning he cuts each plant’s quiote before it has a chance to flower. This method, which concentrates the agave’s sugar in the piña rather than sending the energy towards reproduction, requires extra time for each plant to fully ripen in the fields. The extra time improves the yield of each piña and develops a richness of flavor not found in less mature agave.
In the days surrounding the full moon of May 2015, Cándido and his family returned to their stretch of the La Mina parcel to harvested 16 gigantic, quiotudo Espadín plants from a rocky and red, mineral-rich tierra colorada parcel of their land. On this parcel, they grow their maguey alongside alternating crops of the corn, beans, and squash that provide much of the food for their family. Later that month, they roasted the sugar-rich piñas with mesquite wood in their earthen oven. After unearthing the agave, the caramelized piñas rested for a week before being chopped by machete and passed through a mechanical mill. The dry fibers were let to sit for two days before they added filtered well water to the Montezuma cypress fermentation tanks. Espadín, as any well-cooked maguey with a high-sugar content, requires a relatively long fermentation time, and in this case, required 15 days in water before the guarape was ready for distillation. No longer as agile as he was in his youth, Cándido now often plays a supervisory role in his productions – though he remains a present participant in each step of the process. To produce this lot, Cándido worked the copper pot stills with wife, Eduarda, and their daughter, Florencia. This 200L batch was composed by the maestro using a careful mix of the heads, hearts, and high proof tails, settling upon a cordón cerrado and 47.8% Alc. by Vol. 150 bottles from this batch have been made available in Australia through our partners, Mextrade.
§ Maguey(es): Espadín Capón (Agave angustifolia var.)
§ Provenance of the maguey: Homegrown, La Mina parcel
§ Producer: Cándido García Cruz
§ Region: Logoche, Miahuatlán, Oaxaca
§ Soil type: Red and rocky tierra cascajudo
§ Rest time after harvest: eight days
§ Oven: Conical earthen pit; eight days with mesquite wood
§ Rest time after oven: eight days
§ Maceration: Machete and shredder
§ Fermentation: Native yeasts, two 1200L capacity Montezuma cypress sabino wood tanks
§ Dry fermentation time: 24 hours
§ Wet fermentation time: 15 days
§ Distillation: 2x in copper pot stills
§ Final composition: Heads, hearts, and a high proof cut of tails (común macizo)
§ Batch size: 200L
§ Date of distillation: May 2015
§ ABV: 47.8%
Neta Espadin Capon
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