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New Abasolo whisky from central Mexico is made with 100% ancestral corn

It’s the only spirit made using the ancient corn processing method called nixtamalization.

When you think of Mexican liquors, agave-based spirits come to mind. But a new corn whisky from central Mexico deserves attention, whether you’re a whisky connoisseur or new to the spirit.

Abasolo, El Whisky de Mexico, isn’t the first Mexican corn whisky. Since 2013, there have been a few, whose combined production make up less than 1% of the world’s whisky. Abasolo has some significant distinctions, though. It’s the first and only Mexican whisky made at a distillery dedicated solely to whisky production. It’s also the first Mexican corn whisky made with 100% corn — other Mexican whiskies supplement corn with other grains in the mash bill.

Finally, it’s the only spirit made using the ancient corn processing method called nixtamalization — which deepens the grain’s flavors and aromas while removing toxins. The 4,000-year-old process is essential to producing flavorful cornmeal for masa — the dough used in tortillas and tamales — and it works its magic for corn whisky as well.

Abasolo is made in Jilotepec, a town north of Mexico City that’s known as “the birthplace of corn.”
Abasolo is made in Jilotepec, a town north of Mexico City that’s known as “the birthplace of corn.”(MICHAEL PERSICO)

Abasolo is a smooth, elegant whisky, with aromas and flavors of roasted corn, chamomile, black tea, butterscotch and cornbread. Hints of cola, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla and honey join these flavors on the palate, along with a sweet woodsy note.

The whisky is made in Jilotepec, a town north of Mexico City that’s known as “the birthplace of corn.” The distillery was built there due to its proximity to Calimaya, a high-elevation farming town that produces cacahuazintle, the non-GMO, ancestral corn variety that Abasolo uses to make its whisky. (Posole is made from the same corn variety.)

The kernels are cut manually, avoiding the area close to the cob, which contains oils that may produce off-flavors when processed. The kernels then undergo nixtamalization (the cooking process), roasting and grinding, before incorporation into the malt, to make whisky. After a five-day fermentation, the whisky is double distilled to 86 proof (43% alcohol). Aging takes place outdoors, for 24 months, in used bourbon barrels rather than new oak to avoid oak overtones that would mask the corn flavor. Interaction with the mountain air lends a faint minerality.

Abasolo can be sipped on its own, but it can also be used in cocktails or served with a splash of sparkling Mexican mineral water. A 750 ml bottle sells for $41 to $45 in the Dallas area at: Bar & Garden, Biagio Wine and Spirits, Royal Liquor, Lucky Liquor, Greenville Stop, Lakewood Medallion Liquor, Arcadia Wine & Spirits, Beverage Depot, M.R. Liquor, Pogo’s, select Spec’s locations, Lake View Liquor, Total Wine, Lakeside Liquor, Orale Liquor, Metro Liquors, Jupiter Liquor, WB Liquors, S & K Beverage, Quick Treat Liquor, Go4 Liquor, and Jacob’s Spirits.

Tina Danze is a Dallas freelance writer.

Abasolo Mexican Whisky is made from ancestral corn
Abasolo Mexican Whisky is made from ancestral corn(MICHAEL PERSICO)
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