Centuries later, the indigenous people of Chihuahua, first fermented sotol, transforming the juice into a beer-like beverage. Their nearly 800-year-old method is still honored today in the cooking holes used for roasting the dasylirion prior to maceration and fermentation. Archaeological sites where these 800-year-old cooking holes are found are in Paquimé, the northwestern part of Chihuahua where this once thriving civilization was referred to as the Paquimé People or Pueblo People. This native spirit was refined yet again during the colonial era when Spanish settlers introduced their distillation techniques to create what is known today as Sotol.
It is this rich history that we have captured in Los Magos, the leading single origin, wild foraged, the first triple distilled, 100% organic premium Sotol.
HISTORY OF SOTOL
Sotol is a staple resource of the Ancestral Puebloans, used as a source of food, fiber, construction material, and fermented into alcoholic beverages for ritual purposes.
The Chihuahuan indigenous people ferment sotol juice into a beer-like alcoholic beverage.
Spanish colonists introduce European distillation techniques to produce the refined spirit we recognize today as Sotol.
The production of Sotol in Mexico is declared illegal and the spirit is almost driven to extinction. Dedicated to the preservation and dissemination of their trade and an icon of Chihuahuan culture, Sotoleros risk life and limb to continue making Sotol for the local markets in Mexico and Southwest states.
By the early 1930s, Chihuahua is producing upwards of 300,000 liters of Sotol each year, most of it destined for the United States during prohibition. Rumor has it that Al Capone smuggled sotol from the Mexican border into the U.S. Although prohibition ended in 1933, in Mexico, the production of Sotol spirits remained illegal much longer.
Los Magos’ master distiller, Don Celso purchases La Guadalupana, a Ranch in Janos, which runs deep with mineral-rich well water that makes Los Magos so magical. Don Celso continues to learn the tradition and trade of Sotol with his Grandfather Don Cuco as Sotol production is accommodated and production starts to pick up. It is here that the legacy of the Don Celso Distillery is built (previously named Don Cuco Distillery in honor of his grandfather).
Sotol is granted its own designation of origin and may be produced only in Chihuahua, Coahuila and Durango.
Juan Pablo Carvajal and Eduardo Almanza, founders of Los Magos, see an opportunity to share a centuries old tradition through a modern artisanal approach made for a contemporary audience and begin looking for artisanal Sotol distillers around the state of Chihuahua with whom they can forge a partnership to bring their spirit concept to reality.
A new beginning of a life’s ambition, vision and hope to build a sustainable sotol industry coupled with the desire to bring the ancient traditions of the spirit of the Chihuahuan desert back to life are manifested as Los Magos’ proprietary recipe is perfected, the first batch of Los Magos is produced and Chihuahua Artesanal S de RL de C.V. is established.
In January the first commercial production run of Los Magos is released and a new brand is born – created with the intent to inspire the next generation of Mexican spirit lovers to gather, share memories with friends and develop new ones filled with adventure and magic.
Los Magos officially enters the U.S. market. With rapidly expanding national distribution and presence in some of the leading restaurants, bars and event venues throughout the U.S., this artisanal spirit will soon be available nationwide. Los Magos wins its first San Diego International Wine & Spirit Gold medal and launches a website with the ability to ship direct to consumers.
Let the roaring 20’s begin again, however this time, Sotol and its artisans will have a seat at the table and a well deserved recognition for this storied craft spirit.
El Original – The man who started it all
At the heart of the product is the corazón of the man, Don Celso Jaquez. This man whose passion can be felt, long after what is put in front of you as an ephemeral experience of sensory pleasure is consumed, within the communities he touched. Born in Ciudad Madera, Chihuahua, in 1948, the Señor de la Viñata lived a life extraordinary as a US Army boxer and Vietnam War Veteran, civil engineer, Mayor of Janos, hotel owner, restaurateur, businessman, and Sotolero.
Brought to El Paso at the age of four, Celso lived with his 12 brothers and sisters and his parents Roberto Jaquez and Maria Guadalupe Perez, in a train car that they purchased for $600 (which he would later repurchase to honor his family legacy). Celso’s inspiration and drive would come from the tireless work and sacrifice of his parents and summer months visiting his Grandfather and Uncles in Chihuahua, where he learned the tradition, techniques, and the magia of making Sotol.
At the age of 19, Celso’s love of boxing earned him a pair of Golden Gloves and the Champion of Champions award before being drafted for the Vietnam War and touring as a copilot in a medical unit. Once home from war, he became a US Citizen, moved to New Mexico, and started a family with his wife Emma, two sons and daughter. Celso continued to visit his grandfather and study the art of sotolero production. These joyful years perpetuated his journey to move back to Janos, Chihuahua, where he became a prominent businessman, civil engineer, and one-time mayor.
The craft and enchantment of Los Magos Sotol began in 1985 when Celso purchased La Guadalupana, a Ranch in Janos, which was selected for the mineral-rich well water that was ideal for his production of Sotol. It is here that the culmination of his lifeís ambition, vision, hopes, and spirit manifested into the family production of Los Magos Sotol. It is here that the legacy of the Don Celso Distillery was built (previously named Don Cuco distillery in honor of his grandfather).
While the man Celso Jaquez left this world on August 26th, 2018, after a short battle with cancer, his legend and legacy endures. The Sotol made by Celso and his team has traveled the world and made its way to some of the most renowned establishments in Mexico and the world. His multi-generational heritage will continue to be preserved and honored; Living on today through his son Jacobo.
El Nuevo Maestro
Deep in the mountains of Sierra Madre, Don Manuel Mendez was welcomed to this earth in 1947 as the last of four children and raised on the family agricultural and cattle ranch. With no formal education, Manuel was introduced to the regional trades and began working for Don Cuco’s distillery at an early age. It is this relationship, alongside Don Cuco’s five sons, that would propel his journey toward becoming El Maestro Sotolero, overseeing and orchestrating the four stages of distillation.
Over the next 30 years, Don Manuel would travel with the Don Cuco family’s distillers and establish remote viñatas (distilleries) along the mountain slopes indigenous to the sotol plant. Here he cultivated and collected his passion and expert proficiency in recognizing the subtle nuances in technique that each Sotolero would use to make a distinct Sotol and fine-tuned his palate and nose to perfectly understand the vast aromas and flavors Sotol can give.
Don Celso Jaquez, the grandson of Don Cuco, recognized Manuel’s unique abilities and invited Manuel to work alongside him at the Don Cuco (now Don Celso) distillery in Janos, Chihuahua, where Manuel continues his over 30+ years of employment as the Lead Master Distiller. Don Manuel’s creations have graced many countries and are lauded as one of the best Sotols available.
Today at the age of 74, Don Manuel continues to work every day to ensure the production of the finest Sotol the world has to offer while fostering relationships and workplace practices that change the world around him while preserving the cultural history traditions, both new and old. In addition to mentoring aspiring Sotoleros, he and his signature smile are the driving force and spirit of the sustainable, ethical farming and migrant work practices that bring us the enchanting elixir that is Los Magos Sotol.