Oaxacan Cane Juice: Cañada and Paranubes

Though Mexico is perhaps known better in the beverage world for its agave spirits, the nation also has a rich and diverse history with aguardiente de caña. Today, I’m trying two from Oaxaca. Both come in relatively affordable liter bottles and are available in the U.S. market.

Cañada Rum

Produced by the Krassel family in its namesake region, Cañada is column distilled from organic Java cane juice. The story of the Krassel family, which can be found on Cañada’s website, is definitely worth a read. This particular expression (with the old label) was bottled at 53%.

On the nose, I get first get soft, pleasant aromas like lotion, sea breeze, and vanilla buttercream. Then the weirder cane juice notes start to come through, namely olive, green cardamom pod, limestone, and wet clay.

The first thing that comes to mind for the palate is raw, earthy carrot. I also get fresh cane juice, hay, lime peel, olive, green cardamom pod, lotion, and peach yogurt. The proof is nicely integrated.

I can see why the folks at Cañada call this “agricole-style rum.” While it certainly isn’t a dead ringer for rhums blancs like Neisson or J.M, it’s closer than I would have expected for wild-fermented Mexican rum. It’s almost like a more reserved Puro De Surales, and I really enjoy it. (6/10)

Paranubes Rum

Nestled below the community of Rio Tuerto in Oaxaca is the distillery of Jose Luis Carrera, who produces aguardiente for Paranubes. This unaged bottling was column distilled from cane juice (multiple varieties, but mainly Caña Criolla) and bottled at 54%.

It quickly becomes apparent that this is more grungy than the Cañada. I get lots of pizza notes like tomato, olive, sourdough bread, and fresh herbs. It’s fairly mineral, too. 

On the palate, it leans even more heavily into cooked vegetable flavors like stewed tomato and carrot. There are plenty of briny flavors too, like olive, caper, bread and butter pickle, and mustard. Finally, some fruit flavors emerge in the background like ripe pear and honeydew melon. 

This is also very good. It’s more weird and savory than Cañada, which may make it more appealing to fans of stuff like Le Rocher, Rivers, or Mhoba. If you’re into pretty, clean agricole, get Cañada. If you’re into funky, dirty cane juice, get Paranubes. Or get both. (6/10)