A Man and his Caña | Jose Luis Carrera Producer of Paranubes Rum
José Luis Carrera is the producer of Paranubes, a rum distilled from the juice of fresh-pressed sugarcane and located deep in Southern Mexico. In a compact river valley in Oaxaca’s Sierra Mazateca surrounded by hillsides covered in spunky green cane plantations, Jose Luis’s distillery is paradisiacal.
A trapiche (sugarcane mill) stands sentinel under a large fringed palapa, while two wooden vats, used for fermentation, and two copper stills are set on a decline and in descending order so that to be fed by gravity.
José Luis’s rum is made from the four varietals of sugar cane that grow around the distillery, criollo, morada, dura, dulce. Beyond the caña, it is the peculiar fermentation process which truly makes it one of the purest expressions of terroir.
Bark from the mesquite tree is added to the vat full of new mill sugarcane juice, which works like a jump-starter and fortifies the fermentation. Once the sweet juice is fermented, half of it will be emptied into the still for distillation and then the fermentation vat will be refilled with newly pressed cane juice. This happens on nearly a daily basis and continuously for four months, after four months the process starts again with new bark and a full tank of new mill cane juice.
This type of rolling fermentation is very similar to a sourdough mother and since the temperatures in Río Tuerto are moderate it is an ideal climate for managing such a fermentation.
José Luis uses a hybrid copper still with a copper pot bottom and a tower with seven refining plates on top. Since the refining plates work as multiple micro distillations, the rum is clean, strong, and flavorful since it only makes one pass through the still. The liquid obtained during the distillation process is separated into cuts that will be blended later according to flavor and proof.
Paranubes is a cool 54% alcohol by volume.
José Luis and his family are incredible hosts with a passion for sharing about the region, the cuisine, and the Mazatec culture.
If you’re lucky he’ll show you where the gnomes live!
José Luis Carrera
Fermentation with mesquite bark
Trapiche milling sugarcane
All photos by Liz Devine