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Tasty, but not quite great
D'aristi's Xtabentún (Shhtah-ben-toon) or as the Mayans call it "balché". Balché was made by the Mayans as an after dinner or ceremonial drink. They would supposedly use this to "talk to the gods". It was made by using the the nectar from xtabentún flowers and turned into honey then fermented with tree bark, vanilla flours and corn. When the Spanish showed up looking for El Dorado (the city made of gold) they encountered the Mayans and their balché. They enjoyed it but didn't like how strong tasting it was so they took the recipe and changed it to include anise seeds and rum. They then took the tree bark out of the recipe and that is how we ended up with Xtabentún. It was later found out to also have good medicinal values as the Mayans used it for healthy digestion and women with menstrual cramps. I thoroughly enjoyed tasting this while in chichen itza, so much that I bought 3 bottles and brought them back home to the states. This stuff is super sweet with honey, vanilla and lots of licorice flavor. Mix it! Too thick to be a sipper.
About twenty years ago, my ex-wife and I made frequent 4-day weekend trips to Cozumel to scuba dive and to Cancun as a home base to see the Mayan ruins. Every time we returned, we each had the maximum one bottle per person of alcohol to bring home. This one was it for both of us. When we ran out, it was time to go back to our favorite playground to get more.
I have not had or seen it for sale in twenty years. I found the one made from guanabana called Huana, but did not care for it. This one is the original at 70% alcohol. So I went looking for orange curacao and saw this last lonely bottle on the shelf for sale at only $30 in the cordials section. I just stood there for a while in disbelief. I brought it home and it is just as good as I remember.
It is made from honey produced by stingless bees that pollinate the xtabentun flower (which is related to the morning glory). The company ferments the honey in Merida, but does not distill it. The Spanish did not like the original flavor of it when they arrived, so they made them replace tree bark and corn with anise. Mexican rum made from sugar cane juice is added afterwards to increase the alcohol content. This original has more honey that the newer XTA, hence the reason for differences in ABV (5% more for XTA). The result is a delicious honey anise rum liqueur. I hate Pernod, but this could be used as a substitute for Pernod in Zombie drinks, but why waste some good Xtabentun.
Update December 1, 2018: I have been hoarding my only bottle of this for months, not knowing if I would ever find another in the states. Well today looked like a good day to sit in my backyard in 80 degree sunny weather to sip on this. My opinion has changed! It is disgustingly sweet and I would venture to say that it has more than 100 gpl of added sugar. One also must LOVE anise, which I only care for in small portions. I have no choice except to drop my rating from a 9 to a 7. It is still good, but not great. I can only wonder what the original Mayan recipe was like before it was doctored by the invaders.
And since this has a very high content of honey, your glass will attract hornets. Then be prepared to abandon it to avoid getting stung like I did. I left a small amount in a glass outside overnight in an effort to capture the little bastards, but all I saw the next day was a thick syrup in the bottom of the glass and a few dead mosquitoes. This only proves the very high sugar content.
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