A legacy of the era when Mezcal production was illegal in Oaxaca, this batch of Madre Cuishe crafted by Silverio García Luis – a 2021 Ancestral Limited Release – rescues a García family tradition and speaks to the tenacity, ingenuity, and oral history of Mezcal families from generation to generation.
In the 1960’s and 1970’s, Mezcal production was prohibited and persecuted by the authorities in Rancho Blanco Güilá and other parts of Oaxaca. Silverio’s father, Lorenzo Antonio García (“Don Lencho”, as his family likes to call him), remembers how the military would show up without warning and seize his distilling equipment. Specifically, Don Lencho recalls how they took the valuable copper pieces like the coil and the turbante tube, because those were the most expensive and hardest to replace.
Creative problem solving ensued. Don Lencho innovated and used a hollowed out quiote (the flowering stalk of agave plants) to replace the copper turbante.
It was challenging at first. The quiote, part of an agave plant’s natural growth cycle, is organic. It is not a perfectly empty and hollow tube, ready for mezcal distillation. The quiote needed to be – but was not naturally – sufficiently hollow for the mezcal vapor to travel unobstructed.
Don Lencho first tried cutting the quiote in half, in order to remove the insides before rejoining the pieces with tree barks. That proved ineffective, because the mezcal vapor leaked excessively during distillation. He eventually solved the problem by keeping the quiote whole, and hollowing it with a long wooden rod.
The García family used this unique method of mezcal distillation for about a decade, from the end of the 1960’s through the 1970’s. The quiote fell out of use around 1980 when the military stopped confiscating their distillation equipment. Don Lencho had acquired a copper turbante tube by then, with less fear that his investment would be taken away by force.
The quiote technique had been forgotten for more than forty years in the García family … until now. Silverio García, Don Lencho’s son, has resuscitated this innovative family tradition.
Now you too can partake in this unique mezcal tradition from the García family in Rancho Blanco Güilá, Oaxaca, available for the first time in the United States in partnership with Erstwhile Mezcal.
Yuan Ji & Kevin Brown, Founders of Erstwhile Mezcal
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