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Cielo Rojo  100% Agave Bacanora

Cielo Rojo
100% Agave Bacanora


By Robert Plotkin

The traditional spirits of Mexico—tequila from the state of Jalisco, mezcal from Oaxaca and sotol from Chihuahua—have captured our collective imagination. No other country's native spirits can compare to their inherent exuberance and brilliant array of flavors, which partially explains their phenomenal popularity both in the United States and abroad. These are indeed heady times for aficionados and enthusiasts of Mexican spirits. Yet, as good as things presently are, the recent arrival of Cielo Rojo 100% Agave Bacanora is guaranteed to make matters even better.

Bacanora is a 400-hundred year old spirit distilled from wild Silvestre maguey agaves that flourish in the mountainous region of Sonora. The majestic plants grow in the steep canyons of the Sierra Madres and must be harvested by hand and packed out of the mountains by burros. Cielo Rojo is crafted in small batches on the 25,000-acre estate of master distiller Roberto Contreras. The harvested mature agaves are slowly roasted in a 12-foot by 4-foot clay and rock-lined oven sunk into the ground. The unique roasting process contributes to its mineral nuances.

The roasted agaves are then fermented in open wooden vats, a long process that utilizes wild, airborne yeasts to precipitate fermentation. The spirit is double-distilled in a small copper pot still and rendered down to 42% alcohol by volume with the estate's pure, spring-fed water.

Cielo Rojo is the first premium bacanora to be imported into the States. A quick sniff, sip and swallow of this brilliant artisanal spirit will immediately raise the question of where it's been all these years. Especially considering the success tequila, mezcal and sotol have enjoyed, you'd think we would have been treated to this centuries-old spirit long before this.

The explanation for its long absence dates back to 1915 and the onset of the Mexican Revolution. For reasons that remain unclear, the governor of Sonora at the time banned the production and commercialization of bacanora. This prohibition remained in force until 1992, when the State of Sonora Chamber of Deputies repealed the law and established origin of denomination standards and regulations.

The saying, "All good things come to those who wait," is certainly true for Cielo Rojo Bacanora. The blanco spirit is shimmery and crystal clear. It has a satiny, featherweight body and a generous floral and herbaceous nose. Its enticing aromatics alone are worth the price of admission. On the palate, the bacanora is warm and buttery and brimming with the semisweet flavors of vanilla, cocoa, spice, anise and red plums. The finish is long, elegant and spicy warm.

From start to savory finish, Cielo Rojo Bacanora is a sublime spirit with a bright, glorious future ahead of it. The spirit is marvelous served with a slight chill or as the featured performer in a specialty Margarita or La Paloma. When it comes to drink making applications, the bacanora knows no creative limitations.

All that's left to say is welcome to the Unites States!