From Mezcalistas: As their Insta profile reads “No es tequila®, no es mezcal®, es Perú. Y Perú ¡es delicioso! Destilado de agave” AQARÁ is an agave spirit from Peru that comes at the idea of an agave spirit fresh. The ever expanding world of agave spirits sometimes feels like an inversion because Mexico is the old world where mezcal was invented, thrived, and carved out a global phenomenon in agave spirits. Meanwhile the new world of agave spirits is in California, India, Australia, South Africa, and similar climes without a history of distilling agave. But there are some fascinating combinations of both tradition and technology like AQARÁ Agave de los Andes from Peru because agave has long been grown there and distilled for some time as well just as it is done in bordering Venezuela and, probably, other countries.
Marco Suarez created and owns AQARÁ. Born and raised in Caraz, Peru at the foot of Andean glaciers he was always surrounded by agaves. The name Caraz comes from the local indigenous Quechua word “QAARAY” which means “place of the agaves.” And the area is covered with a variety of agaves that grow large and abundantly in that high, arid, valley.
Suarez had traveled widely in Mexico and was inspired by what it had achieved with agave spirits. In 2016 he started working with a local group on how to make Peruvian agaves into distilled spirits. Following research trips to German distillers, French yeast producers, and a workshop at Cornell his group worked out the AQARÁ approach. In contrast to classic mezcal they steam roast their chopped up agave in stainless steel vessels which they describe as a very delicate treatment. Today Suarez’s sister Yanett is AQARÁ’s master distiller while he focuses on distribution.