Unbridled spirit

Caballito Cerrero

Mexican distillers the Jiménez family are justifiably proud of the alchemy involved in their agave spirit, Caballito Cerrero

The Caballito Cerrero is the name given to a rare, unique and untamed horse, one that requires no horseshoes. It is also the name of a cult beverage which, over many years, has developed a fan base in its home country of Mexico and around the world.

Caballito Cerrero is a traditional agave spirit made with blue agave of exceptional quality and taste, and its origins can be traced back to the very beginning of the tequila industry. It is produced at the Santa Rita factory that was built in 1873 by Maximiano Hernandez, an ancestor of the Jiménez family who now own the brand.

“Our Santa Rita factory was designed to work based on gravity,” says Javier Jiménez, the current head of production. “It has different levels, it also has a natural spring with water entering the factory through an aqueduct that goes inside wide stone walls. This water, as well as the biodiversity and climate of the ravine where Santa Rita is located, provide characteristic elements to the unbeatable taste of Caballito Cerrero. Since 1873, this factory has never stopped producing agave spirits.”

The Santa Rita factory is also adjacent to the Cielo Abierto, the world’s oldest known vino mezcal distillery – a site owned by the Jiménez family and recognised by UNESCO as the birthplace of tequila. “What makes Caballito Cerrero unique is that our family combines knowledge, tradition and ethics in the creation of our spirit,” says Javier. “We make our produce with the classic equipment. We use a brick oven, we have steel and copper distillation, we use long-time natural fermentation and we let the product rest for 30 to 45 days. We take our time. We use agave that we cultivate ourselves and use exceptional spring water. We make a small volume in order to maintain the taste, quality and integrity that has always been our trademark.”

As well as Caballito Cerrero Azul, the family produces Caballito Cerrero Chato, a sipping spirit made entirely with Angustifolia, an agave known to locals as Chato. The company is seeking to resuscitate this, with its notes of anise, vegetation and butter, and restore it to the market.

Cultivating rare agaves takes dedication and experience. “We are farmers as well as distillers, and we are trying to cultivate many different types of agave,” says Javier. “Some are wild and not as easy to plant as blue agave, but in future we will have more and more varieties. We are a company that is looking forward by looking to the past.”

The complexity of the artisan process means that both spirits are produced in limited quantities – with exceptional results. As well as being popular in Mexico, Caballito Cerrero Azul and Caballito Cerrero Chato are exported to the United States, Europe and Australia. “The market wants information,” says Javier. “People want to learn about different, quality products. Agave spirits are no longer a party drink – customers want to drink a good agave spirit as they do a fine Scotch.”

Caballito Cerrero is the result of the knowledge acquired by the Jiménez family over 15 generations. Drawing on the geographical conditions of the Santa Rita factory, the family continues to make vino mezcal, tequila and agave distillate as they stay true to their convictions and traditions.