Júrame: The Legend

This is the legend behind the distillery “”La Flor.”,a century long vow that still lasts until our days.

Let me tell you the story of the mezcalería “La Flor” and the community of Ipiña, the place where the maguey is grown and distilled to produce Júrame, the young mezcal you’re about to sip. A fair warning: as all good Mexican town stories, this one also mixes myth and reality. 

 

You may be asking, who am I? Well, that doesn’t matter now… but think of me as the collection of whispers, eyes and ears that roam across these lands.

Wind and silence run throughout the highlands of San Luis Potosí, in central Mexico. Cracks on the walls reveal the passing of time in “La Flor”, but the stories told by those who lived here still linger; stories told by the elders like Socorro, María, Cayo, Cleotilde, Don Pantaleón, and many other men and women who either left town or stayed here in spite of bad crops.

 

We need to go back a hundred years ago, maybe many more, to start this journey. In those days there was nothing, but Don Pantelón knew that, someday, mezcal would gush out despite droughts, migration and even land disputes. 

“Wind and silence run throughout the highlands of San Luis Potosí, but the stories told by those who lived here still linger…”

Don Pantaleón was the first manager of “La Flor”. Under his watch, the foundations of the distillery were built and the first ovens were placed, as well as the mill and a copper alembic that glowed like the sun. I still remember the early days of production: the air was filled with a heavy smell of chaff and you could hear oxen bellows from miles away as they rotated the mill.

The distillery was alive and in motion, ready to receive the maguey cultivated in this capricious and difficult soil. “La Flor” began to produce the best mezcal in the region and the people of the small town of Ipiña knew it. They recognized the value of the beverage in their community, economy and culture, and soon understood that their relationship with the mezcal was special. So they made a vow: they committed to always honor the soil, their works and the fields, and to produce mezcal eternally

Throughout these hundred years or more, passionate mezcal enthusiasts have come to “La Flor” with the sincere commitment to honor the vow of those that did before. I’ve seen people come and go, like Don Pantaleón and Don Encarnación, as well as Don Raúl and his sons. Good and bad times have gone by, but “La Flor” and Ipiña are still here on their feet, holding on like good maguey on droughts and frosty weather, because this community is also wild and resistant as the miraculous plant.

The cultivation of maguey is a difficult task, it takes a mystical relationship between the plant and it’s cultivators. These plants  are  stubborn and savage, as their thorns reveal, but they can also be warm to those who know how to approach them, how to talk to them. Don Luis was one of those people, he knew how to treat the maguey . He was a man with a good heart, although some people branded him as bilious. But hey, every man that survived the Mexican Revolution had that temper: good hearted but grumpy. After the carnage of the armed conflict, one could feel the rage that remained. Luckily, Don Luis knew how to target that rage into effort and work.

“Seguimos de pie, aguantando como aguantan los magueyes las sequías y las heladas”.

“La Flor and Ipiña are still here on their feet, holding on like good maguey on droughts and frosty weather, because this community is also wild and resistant.”

Ipiña is a special place, but if you do nothing to survive you may end up as dry as a forgotten field. Don Luis was a man of ideas, he was not going to wait still and dry out. So in the 1950’s, he implemented new technologies and everything started to change again. Walls were refurbished and the mill got a modern upgrade. Oxens bellowed no more and instead you could hear the roar of engines. “La Flor” started to produce mezcal in a different way, a better way you could say.

Don Luis knew he should honor the previous work done in “La Flor”, because spirits and witches that roam the lands could get jealous and gossip. Indeed, everyone in Ipiña knows about these afterlife beings: when they head to the fields to cut maguey or pick up the crop, whispers of witches are heard and a cold wind chills the skin.

Witches are silent vigilants of the fulfillment of the vows, the people of Ipiña know that and so they’ve kept their word: oaths should last this life and those that follow.

“Los juramentos duran esta vida y las que siguen”.

“Oaths should last this life and those that follow.”

Although new technologies were implemented, Don Luis always honoured and respected the previous techniques used in “La Flor”. So he raised a glass of mezcal to seal a second vow to time: Don Luis looked up to the sky to perpetuate the vow initiated by men and women before him, a gesture that ensured the oath will be honored by generations to come. This is an unbreakable pact sworn by the Ipiña community, a profound vow that materializes in Júrame, the young mezcal that transcends words.

After Don Luis departed, the distillery had its ups and downs. Weeds grew on its walls and remained shut for almost 30 years. Nonetheless the difficulties, the vow was kept.

Hope resurfaced in the mid-1990s. New managers and workers arrived with the same desire as previous generations: you could see in their eyes the same brightness, the same passion to start again and renew the vow. Weeds were removed, engines were upgraded and after a couple of years the distillery got back in business. After a rusty beginning, mezcal began to sprout one more time from “La Flor”, with the same or even better strength and quality.

Ipiña was a different town. But despite the years that went by, the community took good care of “La Flor”. Many people migrated, but others stayed or arrived to continue with the legacy of mezcal just as their parents, grandparents and past generations did. This community was destined to produce mezcal.

“Despite the years that went by, the community took good care of ‘La Flor’.”

The distillery had 20 good years of work, but then again bad times arrived with a new pause to production. The halt was brief: although there were rumors of a crisis and low morale, the vow was always kept no matter the circumstances. Men and women of Ipiña eventually always overcome difficulties; courage and honor run through the veins of this community.

Mezcal began to sprout again, with more body, quality and character than ever, as if every generation’s dreams and hard work were finally fulfilling. This new mezcal amassed all the previous love, effort and passion to become once again the best in the region, a testament of the good will and talent of the community.

The vow was kept and got stronger through time. The first oath was made by Don Pantaleón to produce good mezcal; the second was sealed by Don Luis, a vow to time that reconciles and recognizes the previous, present and future generations of men and women that produce mezcal; and the third oath was made to eternity, to ensure this community forever take care of the maguey that produces the best mezcal of the region. They were born to do this, it was their destiny, it was written this way and it’s their will to keep doing it. Words matter because they put them into action.

“Todo volvió a fluir. Floreció el mezcal y esta vez fue mejor que siempre”.

“Mezcal began to sprout again, with more body, quality and character than ever.”

This is our story, a century old legend that still reverberates in Júrame. Myth and reality are intertwined in “La Flor”, the distillery where the miracle of our mezcal is produced. Júrame is made possible by the will, talent and effort of a community that has kept a 100 year old vow to the soil, their work and the fields of Ipiña. 

For generations, men and women in the Potosino highlands have fought to keep cultivating the wild salmiana maguey in order to produce a very special beverage: Júrame, a young mezcal to seal the most endearing promises, a sincere toast that aims straight to the heart.

So let’s raise our mezcal glasses to make a new kind of toast: just say Júrame, look straight to the eye and let’s drink to seal new vows.