We are all familiar with Mexico’s most renowned liquor, and the State of Jalisco makes some of the very best Tequilas I have ever sampled; smooth and delicious. But a new beverage has arrived – Sour Mash Whiskey, in a small fishing village no less! As you walk down to the beaches at Boca de Tamlatan, you pass a few small businesses, homes and this distillery. Los 2 Compadres is a very good small distillery at that; making a Single Cask Sour Mash Whiskey, a “Shine Whiskey” and a Coffee Liquor.
As we wandered into in, the air was heavy and humid with the smell of fermenting corn. The casks of aging whiskey and “shine” [a shortened form of moonshine] are sitting there – just passing the time away. The five fermenting tanks are busy transforming the local Aztecan Maize into the “wash” that will be distilled to make the whiskey. They are bit unique here, in that they use a 100% mash bill
This is a small local artisan distillery. He gets his heirloom corn from the hills surrounding the little village of Boca de Tamlatan from a farmer who goes there on mules. I am not kidding! The water, an essential component, is perfectly suited for this use. Larry should know, for he refers to a long family tradition of making “shine” through the years – even during Prohibition. Therefore, when he retired and moved down here, this seemed like the thing to do.
The Cask Whiskey is based on an American Bourbon recipe. As such, some of the prior soured mash is used to get the fermenting started. The tanks also are not sealed, so as to allow the wild natural yeasts in this region to help flavour the whiskey. After being freshly distilled, the liquor goes to the wooden casks to age. They use old French wine barrels; taken apart and charred to their specs. I was intrigued by the nuanced aromatic differences in the casks, depending upon which of the barrels the whiskey was aging in. The colour of this young whiskey is attributable, no doubt to the use of theses casks. Currently they produce about 1500 bottles per month but are getting ready to increase that and offer a Blended Whiskey also. The whiskey rests for year in these barrels, then bottled by hand. Los 2 Compadres Whiskey is reminiscent of some Kentucky’s lighter bourbons. For me it has definite caramel overtones along with a hint of vanilla and agave essences. I found it to possess a very nice mouth finish, fresh, not heavy but with a light finish consistent with it’s aging. Eminently sippable, I prefer mine just in a snifter. However, on the rocks or with a bit of water added also works
.A small amount of this aged Whiskey is used to blend in their “Gringo Larry’s Shine”. This whiskey is aged for a shorter period and much lighter in colour. Los 2 Compadres shine is a full flavour, but not a harsh biting shine. It feels full in the mouth with lovely warmth as swallowed. Much smoother than other moonshine offerings I have had before.
The much unexpected third offering from them is a delicious Coffee-Creamed Liquor; Licor de Café’ Mexicano. Think Vietnamese coffee, dark roasted and locally grown beans and sweetened condensed milk, combined with their “Shine” to make it 40 proof! Larry’s affection for the cuisine of Vietnam lead him create this beverage. It is fantastic over ice and a great way to finish a meal.
The Single Cask Whiskey, Gringo Larry’s Shine and even the Licor de Café’ Mexico are available locally in several bars and restaurants, along with stand he mans at the Saturday Farmer’s Market in Puerto Vallarta.