Machin, the Jungle Virgin Makes You Act Like a Monkey

by Captain Bill

Machin, the Jungle Virgin Makes You Act Like a Monkey

Machin monkey display

Machin monkey display

When my accountant joined the Dawn on the Amazon Explorers Club he informed me our lounge bar was incomplete without his favorite drink, Machin. Machin? I had never heard of it. He offered to bring a bottle the following Friday evening, if I would supply the coke, lime, and ice. Sure enough, that Friday, we had a small party.

Manuel taught us his favorite mixture, the Machin Classic, one finger of Machin, half a personal bottle of coke, squeeze fresh lime juice to taste, and add ice. I rarely ever drink mixed drinks, but to be sociable, I drank three Machin Classics, at least one too many. The drinks made me act like a monkey. Manuel drank 5 or 6 classics, but didn’t act like a monkey. He must have been practicing…

Machin tasted good, made me act a like a monkey, and when I learned it is a typical, regional exotic rum, produced and bottled here in Iquitos, and flavored with 10 species of roots and bark extracted from virgin trees in the surrounding rainforest, I knew we should include the drink at the Amazon Explorers Club Lounge. I thought you might enjoy reading about it, so we called Cortezas Macerada Selva Virgen, made an appointment to tour their facilities, interview the president Aarón Vela Rengifo, and purchase a few bottles of Machin.

When I arrived at the Selva Virgen (Jungle Virgin) with note book, pen and camera at hand, Aarón must have been suspicious we were trying to steal the secret recipe or formula to Machin. When Marmelita explained I planned to write this blog article to share with hundreds of readers that might be interested to learn about his alcoholic aphrodisiac that turned normal humans into monkeys, he smiled, became friendly, and gave us the rest of this story, which I found interesting and I hope you do also.

“When we produce Machin on the basis of these barks and roots we fulfill an ancient  mystical cycle of preparation, acquired from the natives, my great grandfather, who passed on this knowledge to my grandfather, who then passed it on to my father, from whom I inherited it.”

“To receive the gift of essence from the bark, it must be macerated in sugar cane firewater to extract the active compounds. Because of this maceration process, and our family formula, the fragrance, flavor, color and the spirit of the jungle are transferred to the final product, granting the beverage part of the history, tradition, and culture of our Peruvian Amazon.”

Aarón’s father started turning the historical family formula into a business 13 years ago. Aarón and his brother took it over after they graduated from the university 3 years ago, and they are growing what was a cottage industry into a professional business with scientific research, quality control, and a level of hygiene that makes me comfortable serving Machin at the Amazon Explorers Club Lounge. They have filed the appropriate documents to apply for an export license, and are preparing to grow the business to the next level.

Machin is mostly sugar cane rum. Here in the Amazon rum is called aguardiente, water with bite. The proportions of roots and barks that are added to the rum, in other words, the recipe, is as closely guarded a family secret as the formula for Coca-Cola.

I learned all the ingredients, but also learned that the ingredients are not the secret. Rather the proportions, and time and technique of maceration. In the interest of confidentiality, I will help protect the family secret formula for Machin, by not revealing all of the ingredients. A few of the active incredients by common name and scientific name, are Chuchuhuasi, (Maytenus macrocarpa), Clavohuasca, (Tynnanthus panurensis), Anís, (Pimpinella anisum), and Indano, (Byrsonima crassifolia L.). I was pleased to learn all natural ingredients are used, no chemicals are added to the process.

Once the barks are added to the aguardiente they steep, or macerate, for approximately one and a half to two months, depending on the temperature, and the different lengths of time required to macerate each of the types of barks, each of which affects the color, taste, and aroma of the finished drink.

When the maceration is perfect, the 10 vats are combined in one large container and mixed according to the secret family formula. The alcohol content by volume in the large mixing container starts out at approximately 29%. Honey harvested from the Amazon rainforest is added to the mixture as it is stirred for 5 to 7 days, until the alcohol content by volume is lowered to 24-26%. Then the mixture is run through a series of screens and filters and into smaller tanks, where it is held without stirring for 3 days to allow any remaining minute particles to settle. The finished product is then bottled. The first bottles were corked, but now all of the bottles are sealed with screw on  caps, which is much more practical.

Aarón Vela Rengifo, President of Maceradas Selva Virgen, with two bottles of Machin

Aarón Vela Rengifo, President of Maceradas Selva Virgen, with two bottles of Machin

I asked Aarón, “Do you and your family drink Machin?”

He gave me a big smile, “Yes, we drink it for all occasions.”

“What’s your favorite Machin drink?”

Aarón held up two fingers horizontally, “About this much Machin with coke and ice.”

“How did Machin get it’s name?”

“Machin is a nickname for the Capuchin Monkey, which is locally famous for the male showing it’s virility with an erection most of the time, and for the female being a willing accomplice.”

“Are you suggesting that the barks used in Machin have aphrodisiac qualities?”

“I have heard it called the jungle viagra, but the only claim I make is the liquour that we bottle is the best quality drink we can produce, and I think it is very good.”

“Aarón, thank you for the tour, your time, and your story.”

“It was my pleasure Bill.”

Well, I think I will go down to the Amazon Explorers Club Lounge and try another Machin Classic to celebrate this great story. If you are in Iquitos Peru, stop in at the Amazon Explorers Club Lounge and try a drink of Machin. See if it makes you act like a monkey.

What do you think? Does that concept have marketing potential? Give us a comment. Thanks.

Here are more mixed drink recipes to experiment with;

Machin Sour…Or substitute Machin for your favorite Pisco Sour recipe
8 ounces of Machin
Juice of 4 lemons
2 egg whites whipped and frothy
4 ounces of gum syrup
a little sugar
blended ice chips

Machin Shake
8 ounces of Machin
13 ounces of milk
3 ounces of gum syrup

Machin Mosandero
A small amount of coconut cream to taste
4 ounces of Mango nectar or juice
Machin to taste
blended ice chips

Machin, the Jungle Virgin Makes You Act Like a Monkey

Bill Grimes, Dawn on the Amazon

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Gart April 18, 2009 at 6:16 pm

That’s a great story! I was there for the party and can share some of the pictures if you like, Bill. I found this drink to be unlike any I have ever tasted, although it might qualify as a ‘bitter’ like some of the brews I know from The Netherlands. Excellent for mixing and experimenting. It takes a few tries, but it is actually quite easy to get used to and appreciate.

Apart from that; I know Aarón Vela quite well. He was one of my students at the El Britanico language institute where I taught English (I was known as ‘the bestest teacher’ in Iquitos!) He is a genuinely nice guy, smart and talented. I am sure he will make his parents and ancesters proud.

2 Dottie Bonnett April 22, 2009 at 12:01 am

I’m looking forward to trying this! See you soon. Dottie

3 Captain Bill April 23, 2009 at 6:05 am

Hi Dottie, we should experiment with a scoop of coconut ice cream, one finger of Machin, fill glass with coke, a Monkey Float…

Bill Grimes

4 Cinzia Ruiz August 25, 2009 at 7:05 pm

Hello friend. Aaron querìa comunicarme contigo. estaba preguntando por ti a todo la promo. Me da mucho gusto leer tu pàgina web. Querìa saber de los productos que ofreces al mundo “El Machin” para degustarlo con mi familia. escribe a mi correo. Besos.

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