Abasolo Releases Mexican Corn Whisky in Time for Cinco de Mayo

Tuesday April 28, 2020

Abasolo Ancestral Corn Whisky
Abasolo Ancestral Corn Whisky  

Mexico is awash with hundreds of varieties of corn, some of which have been cultivated for centuries, all of which represent the region's biological and cultural history. The newly released Abasolo Ancestral Corn Whisky pays homage to this heritage with the launch of their 100 percent ancestral corn whisky.

Abasolo is launching with a commitment to donate 100 percent of its profits to the hospitality and bar industry. From now until August 1, all global profits from Abasolo Ancestral Corn Whisky will go to Another Round Another Rally — a U.S. nonprofit that raises emergency funds for hospitality workers who are facing economic hardships due to the COVID-19 emergency — and forthcoming partners in Mexico.

"Starting a new venture isn't easy at any time, and it's rarely done alone — there are so many people who helped bring us to life," said Moises Guindi, Co-Founder and CEO of Casa Lumbre. "While we can't control what is happening in the world right now, we can control how we do business, and that is all in, 100 percent. We wanted to keep moving forward by finding a way to support those who have given so much to us during this unprecedented time."

The journey to crafting the whisky began with co-founder and Master Distiller Ivan Saldaña, whose work has focused on preserving Mexican spirits and their endemic raw materials. He tested dozens of heirloom varietals of corn until he landed on Cacahuazintle (pronounced kaka + wha + SINT lay), a locally grown, GMO-free variety that has been passed down by generations of local farmers. The thick, textured kernels provided the boldest flavors. These flavors are further drawn out by a 4,000-year-old traditional process called nixtamalization, in which the corn is soaked and cooked in an alkaline solution (usually a lime bath), washed and then hulled. Commonly used before corn is ground into masa and made into tortillas or other Mexican staples, nixtamalization unlocks the full flavor profile and aromas of the ancient crop.

Nixtamalization, though never before used in spirits production, has remained a largely unchanged technique since it was developed thousands of years ago in Mesoamerica and used by civilizations such as the Mayans, Aztecs, and Olmecs. When used in the production of Abasolo, the process allows the distillery to leave other grains out of the mash.

All of this happens at Destilería y Bodega Abasolo, the first-ever distillery dedicated entirely to Mexican whisky made from Mexican ancestral corn, located in Jilotepec de Molina Enriquez. There, the liquid undergoes double distillation in handcrafted copper pot stills and is finished in new toasted and used oak casks.

Deep and smooth, you'll get roasted corn on the nose along with hints of leather and vanilla, and a sip will unlock notes of black tea, toffee, and honey.

"We're excited to introduce something truly new to the world whisky category," says Saldaña. "Historically, whisky classification has been defined by the traditional Scotch, Irish and American identities. We're not only bringing to life a product that is extremely unique, both in taste and process, but we are doing so by highlighting the culture and ingredients endemic to our land to innovate in an already vibrant and rich category."

In the Spirit

This story is part of our special report titled In the Spirit. Want to read more? Here's the full list.