Aguardiente de Agave, 'Salmiana (30% Pulque) - San Luis Potosi', Pal'alma
Pal’alma is the export brand for Almamezcalera, the bottling label from Mexico City’s notorious “Indiana Jones of Agave”, Erick Rodriguez. Equal parts historian and adventurer, Erick travels to remote production sites all over Mexico sourcing unique agave distillates.
Deeply committed to local traditions, Erick’s collaborators are all bona fide local legends in their own right. Working with just a single mezcalero per state, including several states (such as Nuevo León and Sonora) not currently acknowledged under the “Mezcal” Denomination of Origin, Erick bottles tiny batches of truly thrilling, uncertified “aguardiente de agave.”
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The first batch of Pal’alma’s uncertified mezcal (or Aguardiente de Agave) comes from the state of San Luis Potosí, in Central Mexico, a region popular among mezcal aficionados for its endemic Agave salmiana, which grows around 6,000 ft above sea level. The variety, recognizable for its thick dark leaves (‘pencas’) which curve and twist as they mature, can grow to more than seven feet wide and tall, and takes anywhere from 12 to 25 years to reach maturity.
Maestro Patricio Hernandez cooks the piñas in a stone oven, then mills the cooked agave using a traditional tahona; to ferment, however, around 30% fresh pulque is added to the crushed agave in a pine vat (“tina”), almost like a sour mash or kombucha.
After eight days, the resulting fermented ‘tepache’ is distilled twice in a copper pot, using a condenser (“refrescadera:) to further rectify the spirit.
Bell peppers and fresh leather on the nose are bolstered on the palate by the creamy lactic notes for which Salmiana is famous, and a racy edge the that reminds us it was distilled using sharp, light pulque. The finish brings us cracked peppercorns wrapped in cool, clean linen and a hint of pine. Spectacular.