Mezcal Vago. A Mezcal Made with Love, Knowledge and Experience.
By: Sam Jimenez | November 2020
Mezcal Vago is made with several hard-to-get agaves and Ensembles of different agaves to make one Mezcal.
The Vago Mezcal Family
Photos by Bernardo Flores
Making Mezcal in ancestral clay pots
Photos by Bernardo Flores
I Don’t Like Mezcal
I do not like mezcal, there I said it. If you have been paying attention, mezcal has blown up everywhere you look. Chances are, you’ve had it at some point in time and still have some questions about it: What is this spirit? Why is it so smoky? Why does everyone seem to fall in love with it? The answers can be found within the bottle, both figuratively and literally. Every sip has a story to tell, most bottles have at least the type of agave, the town and if they are particularly good, the name of the maestro mezcalero (master distiller). After all, giving credit to the creator of the enticing elixir, is only fair. I suppose the spike in preference is justified: the spirit is deeply rooted in the culture, customs, and folklore of the Mexican people, having been distilled for over 400 years, and sharing ancestry with other distillates like Tequila and Raicilla.
One of my duties is that of a mezcal educator. My job, or rather the part that I enjoy the most about what I do, is specifically to educate people on things such as the process, history, anecdotes, culture and little known facts of agave spirits. However, I’m not going to tell you here how mezcal is made, At least not right now. I rather leave some mystery and tell you in another occasion. Or you can just google it (Ha!)
What I’m going to tell you though, is that among the diverse pool of quality mezcal producers, one label that stands out is Vago, a craft distilled product that has been widely praised in the United States and Mexico, due partially because they produce mezcals made with several hard-to-get agaves, as well as “ensambles” (batches made with two or more complementing varieties of agave). They also have a unique story: Boy meets girl, they fall in love, boy meets her father ( a mezcal producer), boy marries girl and they all partner up to create Vago, a company that cares about the sustainability of the agave, the environment, ethical work practices, fair trade and above all, doing things with dedication, hard work and love.
Vago maestro mezcalero is Aquilino García López, he’s truly a bad ass master of his trade. I recently saw a documentary (Agave, Spirit of a Nation), where he’s shown doing his thing, hard at work and dedicated as ever. You can see in his eyes that he was born for this, stoic stance, concentrated eyes, sturdy and hardy appearance. . Aquilino is the father-in-law of Mezcal Vago’s co-founder, Judah Kuper. His palenque is in Candelaria Yegolé, Oaxaca. This is a river town in a hot and dry climate and high up in the mountains. Two rivers mingle in a narrow valley and it is mountainous on all sides. It is a bumpy and rugged three-hour drive from Oaxaca City, but totally worth it. The palenque is on Aquilino’s ranch where he lives full-time. He and his father moved it there 15 years ago. He believes his family has been making Mezcal for at least five generations. Have I mentioned that he does nearly all of the work himself?
Vago is available in the Riviera Maya through Pachuco Vinos y Licores in Tulum.The varieties currently available in the area are Espadin, Elote, Tobala, Ensamble, Ensamble en Barro, Tepeztate and Cuixe. Look for it at your favorite bar and restaurant.
I’ve said that I don’t like mezcal, but I should rephrase that; I don’t only like mezcal, I live and breath mezcal, the epicenter of the current movement of Mexican liquid culture.