Mezcal Alipús San Juan del Rio
...has been produced since 2000 by the Juan family in San Juan del Rio, in the district of Tlacolula. This makes it the "longest serving" family bottling under the Alipús label.
Initially produced by Don Joel Antonio Cruz (✝2018), over time his sons Joel, René y Abelio Antonio Juan took over the distillery. In 2013, their cousin Rodolfo Juan Juárez joined them. Instead of converting the existing distillery for more capacity, Rodolfo's directly adjacent distillery was added as a second production facility. This allows the increasing demand to be met without changing the methods or the product.
San Juan del Rio is one of the most famous places for mezcal in Oaxaca. It stretches on steep slopes for several hundred meters in altitude and has countless palenques. The agave fields are located above the town on plateaus of the Sierra Madre at about 1500 meters.
All Mezcal Alipús in SHOP
Mezcal Alipús San Juan on the Web:
Image & Sound
Interview with Joel Jr. and Rodolfo (span./ 1min)
The Mezcal Alipús Project
What appears at first glance to be a normal Mezcal brand is in fact a very successful social project that has been in existence since 2000. The umbrella brand Mezcal Alipús, under which nine families now bottle their products, is owned by Grupo Los Danzantes, who run the restaurants of the same name and have their own distillery and mezcal brand. The starting point was to be able to offer traditional Mezcal of different terroirs of the region in the restaurants.
There are no binding contracts between Los Danzantes and the distillers, which is why the latter enjoy maximum freedom to work with other brands, for example, or to set up their own - although no producer has yet abandoned the collaboration. Prices are regularly renegotiated, and these are normally 20% higher than the usual market price in the region. There are projections and targets, depending on what happens in the market, rather than binding agreements. The smaller producers receive advance payments to prefinance production. The producers meet at least once a year at the invitation of Los Danzantes for workshops and exchange of experiences.
The production team of Destilería Los Danzantes and the administration of the company support the producers with the following measures:
- Technical improvements in the distillery, e.g. hygiene and safety.
- Setting uniform standards for production
- Assistance with certification by the Consejo Regulador del Mezcal
- Assistance with formal procedures such as tax and banking transactions
- “Best practices” in agriculture. No chemicals should be used in agave cultivation or production.
For the sake of understanding, it should be mentioned here that in most of the producer families Zapotec is spoken as a mother tongue and some of the older members do not know Spanish, accordingly they cannot read or write. A technical and cultural “bridge”, such as the one offered by Los Danzantes, is therefore essential to guarantee the sovereignty of the producers over their product and its marketing.
The production sites of the different Mezcals are located between four to six hours by car from Oaxaca city. The Mezcal is transported in tanks from there to the Los Danzantes bottling plant in the valley of Tlacolula, since transporting glass bottles (first empty, then filled) over the poor dirt roads that connect the towns to the main roads is impractical. At the bottling plant, the distillates are bottled, labeled and packaged.
All Mezcal Alipús in SHOP