CAÑADA is fruit of the labor and knowledge of third-generation aguardiente master distillers who live far off the grid in the town Santa Maria Tlalixtac, Oaxaca. There they plant, harvest and distill 100% organic java sugarcane from altitudes as high as 4,000 feet above sea level.
Organic sugarcane is hand-harvested from the laderas (hillsides) above the palenque (distillery), from altitudes that range from 700 to 1200 meters (2,300 - 3,900 feet) above sea level. The harvested cane is transported by horse, donkey or mule to the trapiche to be milled that day.
Batches distilled from low-altitude cane are harvested between 700 and 900 meters. Batches distilled from cane higher than 900 meters are from lower-yielding cane. Check your batch number: CA (Caña Alta) batches are from 900m - 1200m altitude, batches CB (Caña Baja) batches are from 700 - 900 meters above sea level.
Once the fresh-squeezed cane juice arrives to the distillery, it is diverted to seven 1,200-liter stainless steel fermenting tanks that are stored outside of the distillery. The juice begins to ferment on its own, thanks to the presence of an abundance of wild yeasts that start and maintain the fermentation. Depending on the climate, yeasts, and sugar content of the cane juice, fermentation will last between six and ten days.
Here is where the Krassel family best demonstrates the mastery of their craft. The family uses an unusual still that their grandfather Max invented in the 1930s. This still improved upon the design and efficiency of the six-plate “Destilador inglés” batch stills that were and continue to be commonly used in most of Mexico;s aguardiente-producing regions.
The “Krassel Still” invented by Max is considered a continuous still. It houses eight plates in the distillation column, produces no heads or tails, and the distillation ABV is regulated by the temperature of the cooling chambers and the flow of the fresh caña juice to the boiling chamber. It is an engineering marvel that needs to be seen to fully comprehend.
Unlike the majority of Oaxacan aguardiente producers, the Krassel Family fires their still with diesel, rather than use the much more common method of powering their still with firewood. They believe this to be the best way to protect regional forests, which are increasingly threatened by deforestation.