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Balancan Tuxca Artesanal tasting notes

This label from the Laika Spirits, the importers of Cruz del Fuego and other Mexican spirits, is part of the burgeoning space of uncertified Mexican spirits. This one represents the borderland of Jalisco and Colima, potentially the birthplace of mezcal, definitely a holder of long traditions. I talked to the the founders of the Balancan brand in another article which has many more details on how this label was produced


  • Location: Tuxcacuesco, Jalisco
  • Uncertified 
  • Agave: Lineño and Cimarron
  • Maestro Mezcalero: Don Nacho
  • ABV: 46
  • Lote: TXCU001 173/200 
  • Quantity: 150 liters
  • Tasting keywords: Spicy, pickle juice, tangy.
  • Buy it today


The Balancan Tuxca has a rich nose that promises a barro distillation even if this once was in wood with copper fittings. It really fires the imagination in the way it starts rich and then dissolves into ephemera. If it’s the last thing you ever smell, that’s enough. 


Round at front of mouth which opens into a wide fruity body reminiscent of mango and then finishes with a pickled jalapeño tail. It’s spicy, effervescent, and vegetal. It has a real tang at the finish to remind you that the tasting is over. 


Tuxca goes back to mezcal’s roots and this bottle sticks to pre-industrial techniques. The Liñeno and Cimarron agaves were harvested wild, roasted in a cylindrical pit, hand mashed with machetes and mallets, fermented in volcanic pits, and distilled in wooden filipino stills.


Ah, the great Tuxca debate! There is no formal definition of Tuxca to hold it back but a loosely accepted definition might look like this:

  • Made in the Rio Almería valley near Tuxcacuesco in Jalisco right on the border with Colima.
  • Agave varieties might include varieties of Angustifolia including Cimarron, Ixtero Amarillo, and others found growing in the area.
  • Roasted underground, generally hand mashed, fermented in volcanic pits, and distilled in wooden filipino stills.

All that said, this is a great example of all the avenues that appellation controls cut off because, once certification is in place, the nuances of each distiller’s approach and any situational changes ( different agaves depending on what they find in the field, seasonality, modified fermentation vessels, etc) are erased by legislative fiat. Since there is no denomination the definition of a Tuxca is loose, people can claim it without having to follow any particular process. With great freedom comes great responsibility. Fortunately distillers like Don Nacho are up to the task.

Max co-founded Mezcalistas with Susan way back in 2012. Before that he was a journalist at Salon.com and The San Francisco Chronicle.

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