The Paranubes Rum
What is it
Paranubes is a rum distilled from sugar cane juice in Oaxaca’s Sierra Mazateca region which is almost due north of the city of Oaxaca far off in the mountains. It is distilled by Jose Luis Carrera and imported by Vago. It hit the US market in June and is currently available in California, Illinois, Louisiana, New York, and Texas. Internationally you can find it in Italy. Read more
Judah Kuper displays the Vago line at St. Frank.
Damn, it’s been almost a month since a really nice Vago tasting at St. Frank in San Francisco. I blame the delay on the twinned Komil and mezcal in media outbursts which consumed almost all of our attention recently. Oh and all those tastings we’re organizing in SF, NY, and Chicago…
But enough with delays. A group of us was fortunate to taste through Vago’s line with brand co-founder Judah Kuper Thursday, March 24th. Special thanks to Joel from Worthy Bar for organizing the event. Special thanks as well to Kevin & Lauren Bohlin for hosting at St. Frank. For those who haven’t been, St. Frank is an absolutely beautiful cafe in San Francisco. It’s all blond wood and white tile but steps beyond most espresso bars in that it puts a huge emphasis on reducing the obstacles between barista and customer interaction. The espresso machines are under the counter, and everything else is kept out of the way so that it’s easy to see and interact without a big hunk of metal between you. They are also just about to expand with new cafes named Saint Claire in partnership with Not for Sale. Read more
Bien picado is a term you don’t come across that often in the mezcal world but it’s rich in associations. Literally it means “well eaten” or “nibbled.” It refers to agave plants which, after their quiote is cut off, are attacked by the adult versions of our otherwise tasty gusanos.
This came up recently when I tasted Vago’s Bien Picado with Judah Kuper because the term also refers to a type of mezcal. The Vago post on their very limited run Bien Picado (which is only available in Texas) is well worth reading — it delves into the term and production process in a level of detail that will fascinate any aficionado. The mezcal itself is a unique flavor and a great opportunity to support small production runs like this one. We’d love to see more limited bottles like this and Wahaka’s recent vegan pechugas.
Read more of our entries in the Mezcalistas Encyclopedia of Mezcal and email us questions or ideas for future entries.
Vago has started special limited releases of small batches. The Blanco y Negra is:
A shot from the Vago web site, probably Agave americana, perhaps the Agave Blanco or Agave Sierra Negra subvariety.
This 175 liter batch was made by Salomon Rey Rodriguez (Tío Rey) in Sola de Vega, Oaxaca (16°28’44.72”N 96°57’42.80”W) in August of 2014.
It was made from 77% Agave Blanco and 23% Agave Sierra Negra. Both are sub varieties of Agave Americana.
That’s limited to New York while Vago’s Judah Kuper told me that California received the Madre Cuixe.
Hopefully this is a trend because small distillation runs really tend to be special, witness the Vino de Mezcal series.
Truth in manufacturing is seldom so direct. Watch this video about how Eric Ramirez makes Vago‘s labels. It’s all manual and he only uses the leftover agave fibers from Vago’s distillations. It doesn’t get more basic than this which is one of the main reasons people love mezcal. Tip of the hat to Andrew Says for bringing this to our attention.
While you’re at it watch this video from last year where Vago’s maestro mezcalero Aquilino Garcia Lopez describes how they used to hand mash roasted agave in a a canoa. Make sure to wait for the end when he talks about how much he could mash as a 21-year-old. That’s pretty unbelievable. Thank god for the tahona.
I noticed this little item about noted San Antonio bartender and mezcal aficionado Houston Eaves moving on from the bar scene to work with Vago outside of Oaxaca so I had to reach out to Vago’s Judah Kuper and get the full story. Is Vago really expanding? Judah told me “funny, we are expanding to 1 employee.”
Apparently Vago has been on the lookout for other mezcals and for someone to help his father-in-law Aquilino García López. It sounds like a nice match, friends and business partners. Some could even cast it as a working vacation: “My friend Houston who is a member of the Tequila Interchange Project and one of the great bartenders of Texas is coming to help for 6 months in Oaxaca. He used to run a hotel in Costa Rica and speaks fluent Spanish, also he has been a huge agave advocate. I’m a bit overwhelmed down here doing everything production wise, so his help is going to be great.” Judah also assured us that “Vago did have an unbelievable first year and we of course would like to keep up the growth as much as possible without compromising our quality. I really think our mezcals will just get better and better.”