In the mountains of Ixcatlán, near the border where Puebla meets the northwest of Oaxaca, Agave potatorum can be found growing in the wild. More commonly known as Tobalá, the local dialect refers to this agave as ‘Papalome,’ from the Nahuatl word ‘papalo,’ meaning butterfly, in reference to the distinctive shape of its leaves. Tiny, uncertified agave distillers still practice their traditional art in these mountains, and the second release from Balancan highlights Amando Alvarado, a young man generations deep in the heritage of mezcal. Amando harvests Papalome, roasting it in a traditional earthen oven before milling it by hand using machete and mallet. The agave is then fermented in bull hide that is hung like a hammock between posts, before finally being twice-distilled in a traditional clay pot. Ancestral indeed.
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