Mexican Whiskey Is on the Rise, Powered by Ancient Corn

By Benedicte Desrus for The New York Times.


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There are now more than a dozen distilleries across Mexico making whiskey, most of them using corn native to their region. About half of them export, or are preparing to export, to the United States, among them Abasolo, Sierra Norte and Maíz Nation.

Each Mexican whiskey distillery has its own particular approach to the craft: Sierra Norte blends its corn with a small amount of malted barley, while Maíz Nation ages its whiskey for about two and a half years in new charred oak barrels, like bourbon. But at each distillery, the corn is king.

Oaxaca, where Sierra Norte is also based, is the heartland of Mexican corn: The distilleries are a short drive from the caves of Yagul and Mitla, a UNESCO World Heritage Site where archaeologists have found the earliest evidence of domesticated corn.

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Sierra Norte whiskey adds a bit of malted barley to its corn whiskey, and uses different-colored wax seals to indicate the corn varieties used in each.
Credit Benedicte Desrus for The New York Times.