Tequila from Jalisco, mezcal from Oaxaca and gin from — Yucatán.
While the first uniquely Mexican spirit is well known and available around the world and the second is on the up and up both at home and abroad, the third is largely unknown.
But an entrepreneur working just outside Mérida is slowly changing that, one bottle of gin at a time.
Nine years ago, Roberto Brinkman Cámara became a partner at artisanal mezcal distiller Bruxo, where he developed his skills and knowledge of the spirit-making process.
But a year ago, Brinkman decided to move to his mother’s home state and strike out on his own by turning his hand to making a gin inspired by the region’s flavors.
The result is Katún, the first ever Yucatecan gin, which is available in Mexico and also exported to England and Australia.
Every day, Brinkman gets up early to make the trip from Mérida to the neighboring municipality of Conkal, where his distillery is located.
Once there, he lights his still, takes a quick rest in his hammock and then gets to work making his increasingly popular product.
On an average day, Brinkman makes around 130 liters of gin using a 100% artisanal process. Most of his raw ingredients are home-grown.
“The majority of the botanicals we use are Mexican. I have to use juniper [berries] that are imported because no juniper is grown in Mexico and in order for it to be called gin it has to have juniper but all the rest of what I use, or the vast majority, is Mexican: the chiles, the citrus fruits, vanilla, achiote [annatto], allspice . . . many of the ingredients are from Yucatán,” he told the newspaper El Financiero.
During 2018, Brinkman sold about 4,500 bottles of his gin, each of which features a label inspired by primary elements of Mayan legends including the cardinal points, the sacred ceiba tree, the tolok, or iguana, and the jaguar.
A bottle of Katún gin costs 625 pesos (US $31) and is currently only available in Mexico via the company’s website or Facebook page.
Source: El Financiero (sp)