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Your love is like Mezcal.
It's like poison and medicin, makes me feel high or makes me feel down.
Like Mezcal - Lily Rivera -
AGAVES AND BATS; A LOVE STORY

Agaves bloom just once in their lifetime, before dying. With each precious flower, plants focus all their energy into attracting bats, providing nectar in exchange for pollination.

 

Currently around 200 species of agaves are known in the American continent; more than half are found in Mexico from the North to the center of the country. Around 138 species of bats coexist among this diversity of agaves,  of which "Leptonycteris Nivalis" and "Leptonycteris Yerbabuenae" are the main pollinators of the different agave species.

 

Finding sustainable ways to use wild agave through careful production strategies and sustainable trade practices can support conservation measures for both bat and agave ecosystems.

THE CHILDREN OF MAYAHUEL

The legend says Mayahuel, the goddess of fertility, was converted into the sacred Agave and when lightning struck, her heart was burned emerging from it, providing distilled liquor for the good of men.

 

In fact, the Mezcal is the result of the transculturation between Mesoamerican, Spanish and Arab cultures.

 

The word Mezcal has its origin from the Nahuatl words "Metl" (Agave) and "Ixcalli" (Cooked) its literal meaning is "cooked Agave". For Mesoamerican cultures, Agave has been a source of food, clothing, medicine and construction material, and the Agaves were used by these cultures to produce fermented beverages that were limited to religious rites dedicated to important gods and their use was restricted to Religious elites and priests.

 

With the arrival of the Spanish in Mexico, distillation processes were improved using the "copper alembic", which was culturally appropriated by the Spanish during the almost 800 years of Arab occupation in the Iberian Peninsula.

 

Over time, the use of alcoholic beverages spread to other social strata and Agave-based distillate production techniques were adapted to different regions, cultures and communities. Thus, the use of the Mezcal was integrated into the festivals, religious rituals, gastronomy and customs of the Mexican people, becoming an integral part of them. This process is known as "historical taste".

 

In each sip of Mezcal you will find the work of many families who by inheritance and tradition dedicate themselves to this noble work. Mezcalero is the alchemist of the Mezcal, the person who has learned from generation to generation to make this mystical drink and who owns the "historical taste".

 

By buying a 100% Agave handcrafted Mezcal, identifying the species used and its geographic origin helps the value added to remain in the producing regions and recognizes the work of the small producers that generate jobs in their regions, maintaining a fair and sustainable trade for environment.

TIME AND PATIENCE
VS
THE INDUSTRIAL ERA

Haste is no friend of good mezcal: out of all the species of magueyes, or agaves, which are used to distill this drink in eight regions in Mexico, only the“espadin” variety is easy to cultivate, and it takes seven years to reach maturity.  The rest of varieties grow wild in the mountains and can take up to 35 years to reach maturity.

 

There are many common misconceptions about mezcal. One of the most common is that mezcal is a type of tequila, when in fact, tequila is a type of mezcal, meaning that mezcal is in a way the father of tequila.

 

Despite having the same origins as Mezcal wines, there are many differences between the two, not only in the denomination of origin, certifications and rules but also in the processes of elaboration, commercial cultivation and above all, their different reputations.

 

While Tequila is exclusive to the Tequila region in the state of Jalisco, its production is limited to the use of the "Tequilana Weber" Agave.

 

Mezcal has traditionally been produced by generations of Maestros Mezcaleros in the states of Oaxaca, Guerrero, Durango, San Luis Potosí, Zacatecas and some municipalities of Puebla, Guanajuato and Tamaulipas, and the varieties of Agave used for its production are varied and are mostly wild.

 

Another of the big differences is related to the production process. Tequila is subject to industrial production standards that can see up to 49% added sugar and aggressive mono cultivation practices. The Mezcal has survived until today as the product of handcrafted, sustainable production.

 

This combination of factors means that each batch of Mezcal produced is different and special, not only because of the time the plant takes to be harvested, but because of the dedicated elaboration of the Maestros Mezcaleros and their families who have passed the ancestral production techniques and knowledge down from generation to generation until the modern day.

WATER FROM THE GREEN BUSHES

Mezcales produced nowadays follow similar product processes. What makes them different is the diversity of Agaves, cooking materials, ovens and techniques used. This means that each batch produced is unique in flavors and aromas. We can say that some of the basic requirements that a Mezcal must meet are:

  

  • Do not use any chemical in its preparation and fermentation.​

  • That the minimum alcoholic strength is 45 degrees, depending on the region where is produced.

  • Have Agave odor and taste perfectly defined and intense.

  • It is relevant to the traditions of the place of origin.

  • Have a social function in parties and gastronomy in the community of origin.

  • Production must be limited.

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Harvest

Agaves grow in crops or in natural vegetation and are harvested when they reach maturity, which depending on the variety of Agave can take from 7 to 35 years.

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Cooking

Once harvested, agave pineapples are cooked in underground pit ovens.

 

The type of cooking and the choice of fuel help to define the smoky notes of Mezcal, with "Mezquite" and "Encino" wood traditionally used in underground kilns.

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Grinding

Cooked pineapples or "Mexcalli" are cut and ground, usually a circular grinding stone, pulled by a horse, at a type of mill called Chilean mill or tahona.

 

Another way to grind the Agave pineapples is manually using a mallet. This is a more complex process due to the great physical effort that is required. Generally this type of grinding is used for small productions or to elaborate Mezcal distilated in clay pots.

Fermentation
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The juices obtained from the milling are poured into tubs, the microorganisms transform the sugars into alcohol, the type of vessel used for fermentation can be made of pine or oak, clay pots and in some cases stainless steel.

 

The material of the tubs, the purity and the minerals of the water influence the final characteristics of Mezcal.

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Distillation

The distillation fractions are mixed to reach the desired alcoholic graduation, from 45 ° to 60 ° GL,  these fractions could be the first distillation called “Puntas” which contain a higher graduation of alcohol or/and the last distillation fraction called “Colas” with a lower alcohol graduation.

TASTE

There are invariably smoked and terracotta notes that are the result of the cooking and distillation process.

In the background, you can find citric notes, mint, cinnamon, walnuts, banana, roasted coffee and chili, notes may vary depending on the variety of the Agave and the distillation process.

Like any other premium drink, Mezcal is drunk without additions that affect its flavor.

If you got to this point, would you be interested in trying one of the most widely enjoyed drinks in Mexico? Visit our Mezcaloteca online where you will find Mezcales from the different regions of Mexico and varieties of Agave.

Cheers ...

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