Maguey Melate Hickory King Corn Single Malt Whiskey 42.1%

Malt Whiskey from San Luis Potosí

My Maguey Melate subscription box arrived just yesterday. Included among the 100ml flasks was a sample I was not expecting. It was in the old 50ml format bottles and was a single malt?!

I had to dive right in immediately. Probably jumping the gun since my mini subscription box arrives quarterly. After digging more, I found an article about the distiller Tomás Nava that gave some backstory to just how this whiskey came to be. It’s a wonderful read and I highly recommend learning a bit more about the distillation history of Tomás and his brother Carlos. The Instagram account for their distillery “Gran Tunal Destileria” has some additional photos of the whiskey and even the corn germinating.

This whiskey is made from a mash of 100% Cacahuatzintle Corn (Hickory King; Pozole). Mashed by hand then twice fermented for 7 and 4 days. Twice distilled in a copper alembique still, it was barreled for 6 months at an entry proof of 138°. The water source isn’t mentioned but was proofed down to 42.1%.

Tasting Notes

Tasted neat in a Glencairn with 5+ minutes of rest. Dilution added halfway through the tasting.

The nose is reminiscent of rum and nothing like any other whiskey I’ve had. Corn syrup and honey. Fermented tropical fruits – Plantain, guava, soursop, and bruised pineapple. It’s aromas I’ve gotten from high-ester rum. Incredibly fruity and wonderful. Raw cocoa bean pods and tobacco leaves. Demerara sugar and a touch of molasses come out after adding a few drops of water. It’s a wild nose for a whiskey.

The bottled dilution has hurt the viscosity as it’s rather thin on the palate. Astringent oak that seems misplaced. Coffee and espresso fresh ground beans. Earth, oak, and soil. I occasionally get a glimpse of that fruity nose on the palate but it’s brief and doesn’t entirely translate to the spirit. Forest flavors of moss, tree bark, and fungi. Earthy, buttery mushroom varieties like portobello, shiitake, and dried morels. Wet oak and coal. Slightly leans into some industrial flavors like rubber and clay but is not really metallic.

Tobacco and dried unsweetened fruit finish. The oak is really foreign as I’ve not had many whiskies under 2 years old. It’s not a reposado tequila kind of oak but similar in that it doesn’t seem to belong. Drying pinewood, pencil shavings, and graphene or charcoal. More of the industrial notes are present here and invoke an elementary school pencil case memory for me. Some plastic and rubber erasers. A bit of tin peeks out as well. As much as the bottled proof hindered the texture, additional water works wonders to invoke a pleasant oak finish. The lactic funk from the nose turns into a sweet caramel on the finish. More coffee and a kind of macchiato finish instead.


I honestly did not know what to expect with this sample. I’ve had aged Mexican rums before and other whiskies but this was uniquely its own. Smells like rum, tastes like mushrooms, and finishes like a caramel-sweetened coffee. It’s bizarrely weird and a wonderful little addition to my agave box.

Would I buy a bottle? Probably just to share with others to experience 100% malted corn. But only after tasting some new make and the añejo or hopefully an extra añejo. I want to try that high-proof new make and see if those ester compounds are still in the spirit before it goes into a barrel. I also want to try something aged a bit more to have those oak notes fully mature on the palate. As it is, it’s akin to an Old Tom gin. A bit of oak just to invoke some color and a touch of caramel.