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Bacanora is a clear, limited-production alcohol made in Mexico.

It is made from agave plants that grow wild in Sonora state. Producers just call the plant "yaquiano" agave, but in fact there are at least four different species of agave that are used: agave yaquiana (aka agave angustifolia or agave pacifical,) agave potatorum, eggers' century plant (aka agave missionum or agave vivipara ) or agave shrevei.

It takes about 60 agave plants to produce 5 gallons US (20 litres) of Bacanora.

The piña (heart) from the agave plant is harvested, then baked for about 2 days. Some producers use a covered pit; others use an above-ground oven.

The baked agave piña is mashed to release the juice, then the juice is allowed to ferment for about 4 to 12 days, depending on the producer.

The fermented juice is put into a stainless steel drum with a lid over a fire to heat. A copper spiral tube captures the steam coming out of the drum, and passes through a second drum filled with cold water, which condenses the steam. Some producers distill the liquid only once, but most distill it twice.

Bacanora is sold as high as 92 proof, and is meant to be drunk neat.

There are three grades:

BlancoMeans "white" (though it's actually clear, not white.) Not aged. Distilled then bottled straightway;
ReposadoMeans "rested." Aged in white oak barrels for a few months, then bottled;
AñejoMeans "aged." Aged in white oak barrels for longer, then bottled.

Since 6 November 2000, Bacanora is protected in Mexico by a Denomination of Origin. It can only be made in certain counties in Sonora.

History Notes

Bacanora was not made until the arrival of the Spaniards, who brought knowledge of distillation with them.

Bacanora was illegal until 1992. Previously, it was just made and sold by bootleggers -- untaxed, of course.

Language Notes

Named after Bacanora, a Jesuit mission founded in the 1600s.

A maker of Bacanora is called a "vinatero."

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