Skip to main content

Mexican Corn Elicits the Sweet and the Smoky Via the Abasolo Distillery

Abasolo's Nixta de Elote liqueur and corn whiskey.
Abasolo’s Nixta de Elote liqueur and corn whiskey. Destilería y Bodega Abasolo

Around 10,000 years ago in southern Mexico, a wild grass dubbed teosinte (grain of the Gods) was cultivated by Native residents. After three or four thousand years, it began to grow into what we now recognize as a corn cob. In modern time, the ‘mahiz’ grain that started essentially as a weed in ancient human history, is represented in hundreds of different shapes, sizes and colors across the world. 

Thanks to the Destilería y Bodega Abasolo, in the high hills of Jilotepec de Molina Enríquez, north of Mexico City, Cacahuazintle corn is represented as a whiskey (as of 2020) for the first time since those wild grasses were first harvested by long-forgotten peoples.

“Our whole purpose was to showcase the raw material that is native to Mexico,” Abasolo brand ambassador Cesar Sandoval said. “Corn is a symbiotic relationship. We have to take care of each other. The real question that we ask ourselves is: did we domesticate corn or did corn domesticate us?”

In order to represent ancestral, non-GMO corn and express it in its fullest way, Abasolo sampled more than 15 strains of corn and found Cacahuazintle corn to be the most flavorful. Harvested corn then undergoes a 4,000-year-old traditional process called nixtamalization in which the corn is soaked and cooked in an alkaline solution (usually a lime bath), washed and then hulled, uncovering the deepest notes of this ancestral ingredient. 

Abasolo’s ‘destilería’ (the first-ever distillery dedicated entirely to Mexican whisky) is even higher, at 8,000 feet. High altitude weather, wet and dry, hot and cold, helps to give the whiskey character as it ages for two years, taking on notes of the land.   

“This whiskey is very active. It really breeds and interacts with the Mexican terroir,” Sandoval said. “You can taste it. It’s this nice, beautiful light brown, amber color. We’re tasting Mexico. It’s truly a whiskey unlike any other in not only our process, but also in taste.”

Related Guides

Abasolo’s other product, Nixta Licor de Elote, is a liqueur whose taste and look stands out among any other product behind the rail. Conceived from tender young corn called ‘elote,’ Nixta is made with a base of half roasted corn and half raw corn and macerated in unaged Abasolo. The liquid is then mixed with a “base madre,” which blends nixtamalized Cacahuazintle corn, water and piloncillo — a form of unrefined cane sugar traditional to Mexico and Latin America. 

Bottled in a beautiful brown bottle that’s shaped like a corn cob, Nixta gives off sweet-roasted corn notes that’s sweet on the palate with a creamy, almost buttered finish. The liqueur works well on its own as a digestif or over ice cream for a toasty, butter-flavored addition. Sandoval suggests adding Nixta to Tiki cocktails, creating corn daiquiris or substituting it for Grand Marnier to create Cadillac Margaritas. You can even shake a bit of Nixta and bitters together with Abasolo to create a corn Old-Fashioned. 

“Nixta is one of these revolutionary products where you can add a little bit to anything and it’ll make it taste great,” Sandoval said. “I’ve dubbed it the bartender salsa.”

You can find Abasolo for about $40 and Nixta de Elote for about $30 at liquor stores throughout the United States or shop online at

Read More: Sierra Norte Mexican Whiskey 

Editors' Recommendations

Matthew Denis
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Matt Denis is an on-the-go remote multimedia reporter, exploring arts, culture, and the existential in the Pacific Northwest…
Don’t skip this step for summer barbecues: How to clean your grill’s exterior
Know how to clean the outside of a grill so your burgers don't disappoint
Male chef grilling and barbequing in garden. Barbecue outdoor garden party. Handsome man preparing barbecue meat. Concept of eating and cooking outdoor during summer time.

Even if you don't like cooking, you'll jump to man a grill to show off your barbeque skills. But what about the cleanup after? Scraping off the food is the easy part, but when was the last time you cleaned the rest of the grill? If you have no idea, to the point you aren't sure if you ever have, put the tongs down and listen. Here's how to clean the outside of a grill so it lasts more than a few summers.
How to clean the outside of a grill

It doesn't matter what kind of grill you have; you need to know how to clean the outside of it, and you actually need to do it.
What you'll need

Read more
33 easy and delicious recipes any man can make
Breakfast, mains, sides, and more. Simple recipes to whip up
Close-up of a man holding frying pan with fresh vegetables and a wooden spoon

Being able to feed yourself is important, but being able to make a meal is impressive. Whether from an online recipe or a cookbook, these days, cooking has become a necessity and, like anything, the more you do it the better you become.

Whipping up a dish from scratch can sound daunting, and even with the help of a recipe app, it can take a lot of effort. However, once you get the hang of it, you’ll realize that it’s cheaper, healthier, and fun. From a simple savory breakfast to a sexy night in, give takeout a break and try one of these easy recipes every man should know how to make in their lifetime.

Read more
The best fried chicken recipe you will ever make
This is simply the best, and you can stop looking for this recipe now
Eating fried chicken

As you know, we love all things fried chicken. It’s the ultimate comfort food no matter the day of the week, no matter the weather. We just can’t get enough of that golden brown and delicious chicken. Keep reading, and you'll find the best fried chicken recipe ... hands down.
The history of fried chicken

Europeans were the first to fry up chicken during the Middle Ages. Fried chicken was considered an expensive delicacy until after World War II and was only served for special occasions. Scottish immigrants were the ones who introduced fried chicken to the U.S., but they didn’t use any seasonings until West Africans added spice blends into the recipe. Since then, it has been a staple in Southern cooking.

Read more