Mezcals are spirits distilled from the agave plant. Tequila is a mezcal, but tequila producers remove the agave solids before they distill. Tequila distillers put just the fermented juice into their stills, but artisan mezcal distillers include the fermented agave solids, meaning that well-made artisan mezcals from Oaxaca are richer and more complex than tequila.
Alipus is distilled from local plantings of the agave espadín, the genetic ancestor of the blue agave Weber of tequila. Distillation takes place at small family distilleries in remote pueblos in Oaxaca state.
The trio of Alipús mezcals – San Andres, San Baltazar and San Juan del Rio – hail from the Mexican state of Oaxaca, which is the heart of mezcal country. Production is similar for all three mezcals: Agave is wood-roasted in palenques; juice is extracted via stone-milling; and fermentation occurs with native yeasts in open wooden vats. In addition, all three Alipús spirits are double-distilled in wood-fired, copper pot stills. But each mezcal shows marks of distinction, too, from the villages where the distillers work to the types of vats they use and the terrain of the agave harvested.