In the Sierra Madre of Sonora, the Portillo family has been producing Agave distilled spirits since 1905, the year they founded Rancho la Nopalera. Thriving for more than a century in a land of scarce seasonal rain and rugged terrain, the family embodies the artisanal spirit of the Sonoran highlands.
In the Sierra Madre of Sonora, connection with the wild agave plant is part of an ancestral legacy that can be traced back to the indigenous Ópata who have long inhabited our region. Born in the mountains, these agaves have long been forged in the rugged highlands, a terrain of scarce seasonal rain. As a species, the agave is a sensitive and tenacious—a survivor that produces distillates defined by complexity, with flavors and aromas reflective of its arduous life. Smoky, herbaceous, earthy, and sweet, the distillates of Los Cantiles 1905 reflect the character and terrain of our mountainous re....
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Los Cantiles 1905 Tragos de Sonora, located in Nacori Chico, Sonora producing Small Batch Agave distilled Spirits From Agave Pacifica (Bacanora), Agave Shrevei (Lechuguilla) and Dasylirion Wheeleri (Palmilla), Salud amigos! Sip the legacy! Nacori Chico where we produce the spirits, Buena Vista, where we palm weave, and la Sierra Madre, where wild agave is grown
This is how our bottles are born, 100% recycled glass, made individually, one at a time, without rushing the process. No 2 bottles are the same, each has its own unique personality that bonds very well with the unique spirit in the bottle.
The same way our Great-Grandfather used to cook agaves and palmillas back in 1905 is the same way we cook them to this day. Slow-roasted with mesquite and oak (Encino), because time is one of our main ingredients. Please take your time to enjoy it. Salud amigos.
The production of our distillates is a time-honored one in Sonora, one that resisted years of prohibition and industrialization. The artisanal elements that have always defined these spirits is still intact today, and the history of un buen trago of bacanora, lechuguilla, or palmilla is one passed down by our forebears—a treasure hidden amongst the foothills and backroads, written in the handwriting of artisans and ranchers proud of their indigenous roots. Sonoran tradition, passion, and pride can be enjoyed in every taste of our spirits.
With Los Cantiles 1905, the legend begins in La Nopalera ranch, in the valleys of the Río Bonito, at the base of the mountains where new generations of plants are propagated in agave nurseries managed in the most natural way possible. Our seedlings are produced through natural pollination to promote the genetic diversity of the species, are fertilized with bat guano harvested in local caves, and are irrigated with untarnished river and well water. When our agave plants reach two years, they are transported across the hillsides and valleys of Los Cantiles and left to mature naturally with protection from intense heat and freezing along the temperate banks of the Río Bonito and the surrounding slopes.
The lives of these agaves are much like the people of the region: subject to extreme conditions, but still thriving in adversity. These plants survive the droughts and intense heat and cold of the region, giving rise to complex flavors and aromas. When the agaves mature, they are “castrated” or “decapitated,” removing the agave stalk to prevent the plant from flowering and concentrate its sugars in body of the plant. After another year or two, the sugar content peaks and the castrated agaves are ready to be harvested. Ranchers bring donkeys and mules to the hillsides surrounding Los Cantiles and sheer the sharp pencas from the agaves with jaibicas, a short Sonoran hatchet. In preparing the agaves, one penca is trimmed of its spines and used as a handle and tie that can be lashed onto pack animals.
The agaves are then transported to a nearby road and transferred into trucks that bring them to the vinata where they will be roasted in underground ovens made with volcanic stone and fired with local deadwood of oak and mesquite, which imparts a unique taste and aroma to our distillates. When the oven reaches the desired temperature, the agaves are thrown inside and covered with dirt to starve the fire of oxygen and prevent the agaves from burning as they roast. After two or three days, depending on the weather, the oven is uncovered to reveal agaves that have become dark, juicy, and caramelized, with a characteristic sweet and smoky flavor.
Next, the roasted agaves are processed in a mechanical mill, or by hand with axes and hatchets, and then transferred into stainless steel tanks. Well water is added to aid in the fermentation process, which is sparked by the natural presence of airborne yeast and continues over the course of three to ten days depending on seasonal temperature and humidity. After the agave mash has sufficiently fermented, the mixture is placed into a stainless steel still and twice distilled to create a smooth, consistent spirit. Finally, the alcohol content is adjusted by master distiller José Luis Portillo, who makes the necessary adjustments by taste and by smell. It is his wealth of experience and knowledge that brings a singular touch to each batch of Los Cantiles 1905.
Once the spirit is adjusted to the satisfaction of José Luis, the distillate is bottled in glass and rested for a minimum of six months. For our bacanora reposado and añejo, the spirit is aged in barrels of white oak for 11 and 22 months respectively, before finally being transferred into our distinct bottles, artisanally made with 100% recycled glass.
The agave is planted in greenhouses for months and then transplanted to the mountains where it will reach maturity after 6 to 10 years.
The agave is harvested with hatchets, called jaibicas and machetes in the mountains and then carried out to the oven location by mules.
Slowly cooked in an underground oven lined with volcanic rock using a combination of mezquite and oak wood for a perfectly balanced profile.
After a slow cooking process, the juices are extracted by placing the piña on top of a concave mesquite wood trunk called "La Cuba" and the piña is smashed with the back of an axe, as has been done since 1905. We also try to incorporate new methods into the old, occasionally using a mechanical shredder.
For our aged Bacanoras, high quality American white oak barrels are used. The spirit rests in the barrel for eleven months for our Reposado and twenty-two months for our Añejo
Our bottles are made individually with 100% recycled glass, one at a time, without rushing the process. No 2 bottles are the same, each has its own unique personality that bonds very well with the singular spirit in the bottle.
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