Alipus was started by Los Danzantes to provide a market for family artisan distilleries. There are still hundreds of small mezcal distilleries in Oaxaca, and a number of them make fabulous product. Hector Vasquez and later Karina Abad Rojas have worked closely with selected small producers, both to improve their distillation methods and to help them with the complex paperwork required to certify their mezcals for export.
The intent was to provide small distilleries with a wider market so that they could stay in business, and it has worked: Alipus producers have been able to add stills and – this is wonderful – to bring their children back from the USA because there is now enough work for them – as distillers! – at home.
Alipus is now Mexico’s #1 artisan mezcal. Craft Distillers started importing the Alipus mezcals in 2012. Both Los Danzantes and Craft Distillers take lower than normal markups so that these distillers can be better paid and so that all of us can enjoy it for years to come.
Per the tasting notes San Andres was “fermented in cypress vats and distilled by Don Valente Angel from agave Espadín grown at about 5,000 feet on thin calciferous-soiled low hills and terraces.”
We found a big push of agave in the nose and a nice integrated agave/smoke combination in the mouth. It’s a very powerful tasting mezcal with strong fruit but doesn’t overwhelm with alcohol. This was the tasting favorite so we brought it into our Pop Up Mezcaleria where it showed exceptionally well in the company of Del Maguey’s Minero, Metl’s Blanco Blend and Pierde Almas’ Dobadaán. Many tasters named it a favorite and commented on the great contrast between strong agave fruit and alcoholic push.
San Juan del Rio
Made by the same palanquero as Los Nahuales (as it is known here in the U.S. – it goes by Los Danzantes in Mexico), Don Joel Antonio Cruz y familia, the San Juan del Rio Alipús is made from 100% Espadín. Per the tasting notes from Craft Distillers it was fermented in oak vats and is the fruit of non-irrigated Espadín “grown in sunny mountain-top plantings in ferriferous soil at 4,600 feet.” They describe it as “Fruity, rich, smokey, pleasantly sweet.” In our tasting we found a full agave nose with a slight sweetness and light smoke notes. It was smooth on the tongue and displayed an even alcohol note. The palate reveals even more smoke which is the dominant impression left after a swallow. This is definitely the smokiest Alipús which should appeal to scotch drinkers who appreciate some peat.