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Jun 25

Guest Post: Mezcal in Mexico

For this post we again welcome Jay Erisman, our favorite instructor from The Party Source EQ Center and quite the wine and spirits expert. This is actually part 2 of a 2-part Mexican adventure he took in 2007 (part 1).

Tequila country did not prepare me for the Del Maguey Single Village Mezcal producers in Oaxaca. Del Maguey mastermind Ron Cooper took me on a four day tour of Oaxaca. From village markets where we feasted on things like pit roasted goat (and—bonus!—the blood of the goat, cooked in the stomach with mint, swear I’m not making this up), to cutting edge restaurants in Oaxaca City, I was immersed in the most vibrant, colorful culture I’ve ever experienced.

I was acquainted with the traditional production methods used by such Mezcal masters as Paciano Cruz Nolasco of San Luis del Rio.

To actually see these distilleries operate with technology that was virtually pre-industrial was totally amazing. The techniques are positively pre-industrial, such as roasting the maguey in an earthen pit of smoldering wood and hot rocks for up to three weeks, and crushing the cooked plants with a mule-powered stone. Señor Nolasco harvests maguey plants (a relative of the blue agave used for Tequila) from very high hills, in his very high village, at the end of a very bad road. (Paciano is a Mezcal maker, a palenquero, but this generous, forward-thinking man is training his daughter to become a palenquera, possibly the first female Mezcal distiller.) The term “rustic” does not do justice to his distillery, hugging the dusty banks of the rio amidst a cluster of banana trees, vines and lizards. His Mezcal might offer the single most complex aroma of any spirit I sell, a kaleidoscope of smoky earth, pineapple fruits and mountain herbs, citrus leaves and rinds, black and white pepper and more. Nosing a glass of San Luis is like approaching the event horizon of a black hole; inevitably, it pulls you in, and you’re done for.

In the village of Minero, Florencio Sarmiento uses two stills made of clay and bamboo from a unique design of ancient Chinese origin.

Florencio’s distillery is also the only one I saw that used electricity, with a small pump circulating cold water to the internal condenser bowls in his far-out stills. The resulting Mezcal cuts across the palate like a lightsaber, with a breathtaking citrus intensity.

Like El Tesoro, all Del Maguey Mezcals are 100% natural with no added flavors or chemicals used in production/ On top of that, these Mezcals possess full organic certification. Having been there, I can better appreciate where the potent, smoky flavor of these Mezcals comes from. If they are drop for drop the most intensely flavored spirits in The Party Source, surely that reflects the rugged land—and the hand of the maker—from which they spring.

– Jay Erisman
Photos © Jay Erisman 2007-2010

View part 1 of the Mexican adventure – Tequila.

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Posted by Michelle at 8:01 am in Guest Writers, Knowledge, Spirits, Travel | Permalink | Comments (2)

2 Responses to “Guest Post: Mezcal in Mexico”

  1. [...] Guest Post: Mezcal in Mexico « My Wine Education [...]

  2. V2.) SIX GREAT REASONS TO MAKE YOUR OWN WINE

    Do your snob friends turn up their noses at the mere suggestion of making your own wine? Get theses critics to put their money where their mouth is and conduct a blind taste test. In our own experiments – we find nobody can tell the difference between homemade wine and commercially produced wine. Here are six more reasons to consider making your own wine:

    Save Big! A bottle of wine is not that big! Hosting parties and family can be expensive. Taxes tend to make up the lions share of the price of wine purchased at retail. Save big and make your own wine.

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    Better for the environment. When you make wine, you sterilize and re-use your bottles over and over. This means less landfill or energy used to recycle your used bottles. Over your lifetime think of how many wine bottles you have generated only to toss them in your recycle bin. Reduce, Re use, Re drink!

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    Mark Whalen runs The Wine Butler, a local shop where people save money by doing Wine Making Toronto style! Come check them out at winebutler.ca

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