Alipus San Juan was originally distilled by the late Joel Antonio Cruz. When production got to 30,000 bottles, he turned over distillation for export to the USA to his son Rodolfo.

Rodolfo’s destilería lies on the west bank of the Rio Hormiga Colorado in San Juan del Rio (pop. 1231 in 2010) at the bottom of a canyon about an hour and a half hours southeast of Oaxaca City. The pueblo has built up a lot since this Google Earth photo. The altitude is 4,186 feet and the surrounding terrain is mountainous, with high wide plateaus.

The Cruz destilería has four copper potstills. It’s a co-op: the whole clan makes use of them, and so do several outsiders.


One of the two roasting pits

Cordwood stacked for roasting.

Cutting up roasted agaves for milling

the stone mill

the stone mill

After fermentation, using a fairly large vat made from black oak. The bucket is used to move the fermented agave into the still.

One of Rodolfo’s stills. Note the red rag used to seal the connection to the condensing tank.

Pitchforking out the bagasso, the solids, after the second distillation

San Juan is at 4600 feet, but most of the local agaves are grown on hillsides and plateaus higher up, likely 500 feet. The soils are shaley and ferriferous.

San Juan's Church

San Juan's Church