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Vago Arroqueno en Barro Tio Rey Mezcal

These limited batches are produced about once a year and are usually less than 300 liters. They are made by Salomón Rey Rodriguez (Tío Rey) in Sola de Vega, Oaxaca. The Agave Arroqueño is native to the Sola de Vega region, its Latin name is Agave Americana var. Oaxacensis. Arroqueño take up to 20 years to mature and are identifiable by their larger piña (heart) and narrower penca (leaf).

Tío Rey has three fermentation vats. Two are typical vats, the third is made from the trunk of a large Pino Sabino (Pine tree) hollowed out in the shape of a canoe and has been in use for 90 years!  For distillation, Tío Rey uses a series of clay pots. Each pair of pots shares a fire. The stills are made of stacks of two pots. One that holds the mash and has an open top, and another with an open bottom that rests on top of the first one. On the top pot there is an upside-down stainless steel bowl that water continually runs in and out of. When the heat from the mash rises and hits the cool top created by the water, condensation occurs. An agave leaf works as a large spoon to catch the dripping condensation (mezcal) and runs into a reed that flows the mezcal into the collection container.

This whole process is laborious and takes around 4 times the effort of a copper still and stone tahona method. Tío Rey never adds water to his mezcal post distillation. Cuts are made by taste and smell.

These huge, ancient agaves tend to impart flavors that are deep, dark, earthy, and rich. The dank characteristics of Arroqueño are perfectly suited for clay pot distillation. While Tío Rey often uses Agave Arroqueño to balance his Ensamble en Barro mezcals made from several agave types, he loves to make small batches of pure Arroqueño mezcal to showcase it’s awesome characteristics.