Alipus was started by Los Danzantes to provide a market for family artisan distilleries. There are still hundreds of small mezcal distilleries in Oaxaca, and a number of them make fabulous product. Hector Vasquez and later Karina Abad Rojas have worked closely with selected small producers, both to improve their distillation methods and to help them with the complex paperwork required to certify their mezcals for export.
The intent was to provide small distilleries with a wider market so that they could stay in business, and it has worked: Alipus producers have been able to add stills and – this is wonderful – to bring their children back from the USA because there is now enough work for them – as distillers! – at home.
Mezcal Joven or “young” is bottled within two months of distillation without barrel aging and will appear clear, like a Vodka or Gin. Longer barrel aging, with the principal aim to soften and round a spirit’s flavor profile, is often most prized by connoisseurs. However, many die-hard Mezcal enthusiasts insist that oak takes away from the purity of the agave flavors—ranging from earthy and smoky to sweet and floral, often in the same Mezcal—and that Mezcal Joven is the best expression.