LA LUNA GLOSSARY

LA LUNA GLOSSARY

“Para todo mal, mezcal, y para todo bien, tambien.”
(“For everything bad, mezcal, and for everything good, as well’)

Agave:  Scientific name for a genus in the Asparagaceae plant family with almost 200 species, about 30 of them used to make pulque and mezcal. Also known in Mexico as maguey.

Aguamiel (“honey water”):  Sweet sap that flows from the piña up the stalk, or quiote, of the mature agave to its flowers. The stalk is cut just before flowering and the nectar is fermented to make pulque.

Alambique (“alembic”):  A still; a distilling apparatus consisting of a pot to heat a liquid and a cap (or head) to cool and condense vapors which then flow through a downward-sloping tube into a receiver. 

Azul (“blue”):  Spanish name for A. tequilana. Also called Maguey Azul (“blue agave”) and in English, blue Weber agave. 

Bagazo (“pulp”):  Fiber, or shred, remaining after agave juice is extracted from the piña.

Brix (for Adolf Brix, mathematician and engineer):  The unit for specific gravity of a liquid, degree (°) Brix, as a measure of dissolved sugar concentration. 

Bruto (“rough”):  Local Cojita name for a very large, wild agave, A. inaequidens, also known as Alto (“high”) in Morelia. 

Cabeza (“head”):  First part or cut of the distillate. Also called the punta. 

Cao. Long-handled tool with a round blade used to cut leaves and roots from agave plants, yielding the piña

Capon. Cutting of the mature agave stalk, or quiote, early on to prevent the flow of sap, keeping it stored in the piña until harvest for mezcal production.

Catador. One who samples or tastes mezcal to evaluate quality. 

Cazo (“saucepan”):  A 200-liter copper distillation vessel, used with a pinewood still.   

Cazuela (“pot”):  Traditional clay distillation vessel in Jalisco and Cotija. See also Hoya de Barro. 

Cenizo (“ash”):  Local name for an agave species with grayish leaves. See Manso Sahuayo. 

Chino Silvestre (“mestizo” and “wild”):  A La Luna mezcal expression made from wild A. cupreata. 

Cocción (“cooking”):  The process of roasting the agave piña to convert carbohydrates into fructose (fruit sugar) for fermentation; also, the duration of cooking.

Colas amargas (“bitter tails”): Bitter fourth part or cut of the distillate. 

Colas dulces (“sweet tails”):  Sweet third part or cut of the distillate. 

Cotija: Cotija de la Paz is a municipality in the state of Michoacán, known for its cheese and mezcal — home to the Chavez family and a small La Luna vinata.

Criollo (‘creole”):  A small, heirloom blue Weber agave with concentrated sugar and flavor.

CRM. Acronym for Consejo Mexicano Regulador de la Calidad del Mezcal, the governing body for the Denominación de Origen of mezcal. Currently, the CRM oversees production of certified mescal in nine Mexican states. 

Cuchara (“spoon”):  A copper gutter inside a wooden still that catches mezcal distillate as it cools, condenses, and drips off of the still’s copper cone. 

Cuerpo (“body”):  The middle and main part or cut of the distillate. Also called the corazón (“heart”).

Cupreata: An agave, A. cupreata, both wild and cultivated. 

Encino verde (“green oak”):  Green, or not completely dry, white oak wood with sufficient moisture content to roast agave piñas properly. 

Ensamble. A blend or mixture of mezcal expressions made from two or more agave species or sub-species. 

Espadín. The predominate agave in Oaxaca, A. angustifolia var. espadín (related to espada, “sword,” for the shape of its leaves). 

Espadincillo. An agave, A. angustifolia var. espadincillo, a sub-variety of A. angustafolia var. espadín that is found in Michoacán.

Etúcuaro. Small town in the Madero municipality, 18 miles south of the Michoacán capital of Morelia, site of a small vinata where the first La Luna mezcals were made by Isidro Perez, mezcalero and partner. 

Exprimidor (“squeezer”): Device to press and extract juice from a piña.

Fila. Container in which agave juice is extracted by hand from cooked piñas.

Gusto. Taste or pleasure. 

Hornilla (“oven” or “burner”):  A wood-fired oven that heats a cazo for distillation. 

Horno Cónico (“conical oven”):  Cone-shaped earthen oven lined with volcanic rock used to cook or roast agave piñas.   

Hoya de Barro (“clay pot”):  Traditional distillation vessel used in Cotija and Jalisco’s Sierra de Tigre. 

Hydrolysis. A chemical breakdown of a substance, like a complex sugar, in reaction to water. 

Indaparapeo:  A municipality in Michoacán, 15 miles northeast of the capital of Morelia, and the location of La Luna’s main vinata.

Jimador: One who harvests agave.   

Joven (“young”):  An un-aged mezcal. 

Maguey. Spanish synonym in Mexico for agave.  

Manso Sahuayo (“tame” Sahuayo):  An Agave sp., or “unspecified” agave, named for the Sahuayo area, about 16 miles north of Cojita. (See Cenizo.) 

Mezcal. A distilled alcoholic beverage made from cooking and fermenting the piña of the agave. The word mezcal is from the Nahuatl mexcalli, a combination of metl (“agave”) and ixcalli (“oven-cooked”). Tequila is a (subset of) mezcal, but not all mezcal is tequila. Certified mezcal is produced in nine Mexican states.

Mezcalero. One who makes mezcal. 

Morelia. Capital city of the Mexican state of Michoacán. 

Mosto (“must”):  Fresh agave juice and solids (bagazo) from cooked and shredded piña, plus water, ready for hydrolysis and wild yeast fermentation. Mosto muerto (see below).

Muerto (‘dead”):  Mosto muerto is agave must that has finished fermentation.  

Nahuatl. The language of the Aztecs, one of 63 indigenous languages in Mexico, dates from at least the 7th century C.E.

Ordinario (“usual”):  First distillation of fermented agave mosto

Patate. A dried palm leaf used to cover roasting agave, burning wood, and hot rock in underground ovens; the leaves are then sealed with dirt on top.   

Pencas. Leaves of the agave plant. 

Pie de levadura (“foot of yeast”):  Addition of sweet, free-run agave juice to the mosto to stimulate yeast activity in fermentation. 

Piña (“pineapple” or “pinecone”): The “heart” of the agave plant where carbohydrates are stored that can be cooked, fermented, and distilled to make mezcal. 

Pulque (from the Nahuatl octli): A traditional milky alcoholic beverage made by fermenting the sap, or aguamiel, of the agave plant; produced for millennia in central Mexico. Pulque is occasionally used to help start agave fermentation.

Punta (“end”): First part or cut of the mezcal distillate. Also called the cabeza.

Quiote. The tall stalk or spike of a mature agave plant that produces its flowers.

Raicilla (“little root”): Southwestern Jalisco name for mezcal. 

Saccharomyces cerevisiae (from Greek and Latin for “sugar-mold” and “of beer”). A species of yeast used in baking and fermentation that occurs naturally (also called indigenous, wild, native, or spontaneous), usually on ripe fruits, and ferments agave juice. 

Salmiana. An agave, A. salmiana, also known locally as Verde (“green”).  

Tahona. Traditional horse-drawn large stone wheel used outside of Michoacán to crush the piña to make tequila. Large modern distilleries use mechanized crushers. Artisanal mezcal producers still extract agave juice by hand. 

Tequila. A distilled alcoholic beverage made by cooking and fermenting the piña of the A. tequilana, or blue Weber agave. Tequila is a sub-set of mezcal, named for a city in the Jalisco highlands, but is also produced in some municipalities of four other states, including Michoacán. 

Tequilana. An agave, A. tequilana (see Tequila and Azul). 

Tina (“vat”):  Vessel for fermenting the agave mosto.

Verde (“green”):  Spanish name for A. salmiana. Also called Maguey Verde (“green agave”). 

Vinata (likely from vino de mezcal, “wine of the mezcal” plant): Michoacán term for a mezcal distillery. 

Alambique (“alembic”): A still; a distilling apparatus consisting of a pot to heat a liquid and a cap (or head) to cool and condense vapors which then flow through a downward-sloping tube into a receiver. (place between Aguamiel and Azul)

Azul (“blue”): Spanish name for A. tequilana. Also called Maguey Azul (“blue agave”) and in English, blue Weber agave.

Bagazo (“pulp”): Fiber, or shred, remaining after agave juice is extracted from the piña. (replace previous copy)

Cabeza (“head”): First part or cut of the distillate. Also called the punta.

Catador. One who samples or tastes mezcal to evaluate quality.

Cazo (Change 250-liter to 200-liter)

Colas amargas (“bitter tails”): Bitter fourth part or cut of the distillate.

Colas dulces (“sweet tails”): Sweet third part or cut of the distillate.

CRM. (Add on to end of current copy) Currently, the CRM oversees production of certified mezcal in nine Mexican states.

Cuerpo (“body”): The middle and main part or cut of the distillate. Also called the corazón (“heart”).

Espadin. (add accent to Espadín; also, change augustifolia to angustifolia)

Espadincillo. An agave, A. angustifolia var. espadincillo, a sub-variety of A. angustafolia var. espadín that is found in Michoacán.

Exprimador (“squeezer”): Device to press and extract juice from a piña.

Gusto. Taste or pleasure.

Hydrolysis. A chemical breakdown of a substance in reaction to water.

Manso Sahuayo (“tame” Sahuayo”) Please remove quotation mark (“) after Sahuayo

Mezcal (Please ad on to end of current copy) Certified mezcal is produced in nine Mexican states.

Pie de levadura (“foot of yeast”): Addition of sweet, free-run agave juice to the mosto to stimulate yeast activity in fermentation.

Pila (Out of alphabetical order, between Etúcuaro and Hornilla. Please place after Petates and before Piña)

Punta (“end”): First part or cut of the distillate. Also called the cabeza.

Tequila. In last line, please change “five” to “four” other states.

Verde (“green”): Spanish name for A. salmiana. Also called Maguey Verde (“green agave”).