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Ixcateco mezcalero Amando Alvarado Alvarez typically harvests his maguey in the dry season. This is the time of year when greater yield is achieved because the sugar content of the agave is greater. Papalomé (agave potatorum) is traditionally the only maguey used by in Ixcatlan to make agave spirit, although there are many other maguey species around including rabo de leon, cimarrón, maguey blanco, and pulquero.
These are used for construction, textiles, and pulque. The agave's fructans are transformed into fermentable sugar by slowly cooking the heart of the maguey in an underground oven covered by palm leaves for three nights. The roasted agave is then milled into smaller pieces first with a machete, then by pounding those pieces with large wooden mallets. The milled agave is placed into rawhide vessels with spring water where natural fermentation takes place.
Distillation takes place on clay pots made in nearby Oaxaca City. The spirit is distilled twice over direct fire and adjusted to proof with colas, or tails.
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