Aqara Agave de Los Andes Agreste
Aqara is at the forefront of the next wave, expanding the agave category. With their own unique production techniques, rather than simply trying to imitate tequila or mezcal, we are beginning to see how producers from various agave growing regions are able to express terroir through agave.
Origin: Caraz, Peru
Agave: Ensamble of Americana Expansa Gentry and Cordillerensis Harvest: 10 years (24 brix)
Crush: Cut by hand using a machete into 1-2 inch cubes. For Agreste, the jimador leaves 1/2" more verde on the agave at harvest than the Plateado, adding more distinct agave flavor in the resulting distillate.
Cook: 7 hours (mash tun using a steam jacket) with local filtered water
Fermentation: Stainless steel tanks using dry yeasts and 5-10% of the bagazo (leftover agave fibers); for 12 hours anaerobic and a further 60 hours aerobic
Distillation: Double in two copper pot stills (120 and 150 liters respectively)
Resting: At least 3 months
Yield: 18 kilos of wild agave will yield 1 liter of spirit
Aqará is at the forefront of the next wave, expanding the agave category. With their own unique production techniques, rather than simply trying to imitate tequila or mezcal, we are beginning to see how producers from various agave growing regions are able to express terroir through agave.
Born and raised in Caraz, Perú, Marco Suarez Lara grew up seeing agave plants, known there as maguey, as unwanted guests, “giant weeds, growing without permission.” But before globalization gave the region access to cheaper products, the Caral Civilization found maguey an essential tool for everyday life, crafting products from and consuming it since as far back as 5,000 years ago. 16th Century Mexican chronologist Gutiérrez de Santa Clara said, “everything that mother earth could provide to live and thrive as a human race, she put into this plant, from clothing... to eating and drinking and even for healing.” Through modernization, though, pre-colombian traditions of maguey use have been slowly lost in Peruvian culture.
It wasn’t until a trip to Mexico in 1996 that Marco saw the agave as a treasured, sacred plant, recognizing its majesty after experiencing the exquisite distillates it produced. Until Marco brought Aqará to fruition twenty years later, the agaves of the Andean Mountains of Perú remained asleep, waiting for someone to come and wake them. Marco and his team now work to transform those same mature, wild agaves into a beautiful spirit that pays tribute to its place of origin.
"Agave spirits are closely associated with Mexico. Agave, however, grows all over the Americas – from the desert southwest of the US to the Andean highlands of South America. Already, distillers from Texas to Perú are crafting agave-based spirits from locally grown agave. Aqará, for example, is a Peruvian agave spirit produced from agave grown in the Peruvian highlands. Look for more, non-Mexican based, agave-based spirits to emerge over the next few years."
- Joseph V. Micallef, Forbes
The Journey of the Agave (3 Parts)
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As a Cocktail
Aqará is an artisanal spirit made with an attention to detail that manifests in striking botanical and herbaceous notes – mix it with tropical fruit and citrus to highlight the floral delicacy, or stir it into something simple so that the wild agave notes shine through.
Neat or Over Ice
Aqará showcases the lighter side of agave – the Peruvian terroir and masterful production process impart a unique and nuanced flavor profile. The Reposado is aged in new American oak, which imparts bright spice notes alongside the fruitiness of the agave.
Founder Marco Suarez’s favorite food is arroz con pollo – it’s a simple dish that, when done right, is rich and juicy. Aqará pairs gracefully with simple culinary elements such as dried mango, papaya and chocolate, as well as cuisine that underlines the simple elegance of natural ingredients.