Origin: Destilería de José Luis Carrera, Huautepec, Oaxaca, Mexico
Finish: Neutral vessel
Today we're looking at Paranubes, which comes to us from the Mexican state of Oaxaca. Although more well-known for its agave farms and mezcal production, this-cane juice based rum– or aguardiente de caña, literally "cane brandy"– is produced in the region of the Sierra Mazateca Mountains, which hosts a climate that is suitable for growing sugarcane.
Paranubes is the product of the farm-to-distillery operation of Jose Luis Carrera, whose family has been making aguardiente for over 3 generations. Carrera utilizes a "rolling fermentation", where only part of the vat is emptied to start the distilling process, leaving the remnants to help propagate additional cane juice that is later added.
The distillation process involves a 6-plate copper column still, which produces higher and lower proof distillates. Carrera uses these distillates to create a blend that has the desired proof, in lieu of adding water to the mix; this is a really unique way to proof a spirit, and I'm curious how this affects the final rum compared to using water. Paranubes is bottled, unaged, at 54% ABV.
Clear, high clarity, low viscosity
Kalamata olive brine, gherkin pickles, green bell peppers, sugarcane, hint of fresh tar.
Sugarcane juice, olive brine, pineapple rind, light cream frosting, Serrano peppers
Medium-short, warming, sweet; Serrano peppers, sugarcane juice, gherkin pickle brine
Wow! When you thought after trying clairin or rhum agricole that you've really explored the range of flavors that sugarcane spirits have to offer, Paranubes arrives to say "not so fast". The unaged cane juice distillate shows its youth and proof in an overt yet manageable way.
The rum is clear in my glass, with high clarity and low viscosity.
Paranubes leads off with a kalamata olive brine on the nose, followed by sweet-and-sour gherkin pickles, the earthiness of green bell peppers, and rounded off with sweet sugarcane. A hint of freshly-laid tar arrives near the end of a sniff. This is a very distinctive nose, and sets it apart from other unaged, sugarcane juice-based spirits.
The palate starts off with sweet sugarcane juice, followed by a sour and savory olive brine. Mineral pineapple rind comes in next, followed by another wave of sweetness in the form of cream frosting. Finally, the heat kicks in with Serrano peppers leading into the finish. This is a delightful palate, and remarkably well-rounded given the excessively manual processes that go into the rum's production.
Paranubes' medium-short length finish is warming and sweet. Serrano peppers, sugarcane juice, and gherkin pickle brine linger on the palate as the experience subsides.
This aguardiente de caña is a great example of a regional sugarcane juice rum that showcases the terroir of Oaxaca beautifully. While the flavor profile is not to be taken lightly, it's uniqueness is its strength, setting it apart from the plethora of rhum agricoles and other sugarcane juice/syrup rums that Paranubes shares similarities with. While this lacks a bit of complexity, it surely will leave an impression on those that try this for the first time.