In order to see the full process of creating Mestizo Mezcal, you must travel 40 minutes outside the city of Oaxaca to the village of Matatlán where you will find palenques (artisanal mezcal factories) lining the main road, each selling its own home-brew. In this small village of Santiago Matatlán, mezcal continues to be produced through the same artisanal process that the Zapotecs used more than four centuries ago. Each mezcalero adds his own special touch to differentiate his mezcal. Mestizo Mezcal is no exception. Mestizo Mezcal is a handcrafted spirit made of 100% Agave Espadín and has a distinctive, aromatic complex flavor. Mestizo Mezcal works with its producers from Matatlán to enrich the taste of our artisanal product and create a perfect “mestizaje” of cultures within each bottle.
The campesinos (mezcal farmers) start by planting 2-inch tall buds, known as the quiote. The quiote are replanted 2-3 times before they reach their adult state, usually 8-10 years later. The campesinos then cut the maguey’s quiote, which helps the heart of the maguey (the piña) maintain a sweet flavor. The best of the quiote are selected and replanted for the next generation. The jimadores (the famers that harvest the maguey) use long machetes to cut the leaves off the maguey, starting from the top and moving downward until they get to the base, where the piña is located. The piñas are pulled out and transported to our palenques where they are halved or quartered in preparation for baking.
The baking is done in a stone-lined fire pit. A mesquite fire is used to heat the oven and rocks are piled on top of the mesquite until they turn bright red. Then, the rocks are covered with a layer of damp bagazo (which is the fibrous material taken from previously cooked maguey piñas). The bagazo is laid out to protect the piñas which are laid on top and then covered with a layer of petate (a type of woven carpet produced from the plant fibers of a palm), maguey leaves, and finally with dirt. The baking process lasts for three to five days, during which time the piñas caramelize.
The cooked piñas are removed from the oven, chopped into small pieces with a machete, and ground by a circular millstone pulled by a horse. Then the crushed and roasted bagazo is placed in large wooden vats. Water is added to the vats and the mixture is left for eight to fifteen days to be fermented naturally by wild yeasts. At the end of the fermentation stage, the liquid is distilled twice using an alambique (copper pot). The resulting distintive, complex, and aromatic liquid is our very own Mestizo Mezcal..