Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The Mezcal of Pierde Almas

Pierde Almas, meaning "lost souls", is a line of high quality, small batch mezcals produced in the southern Mexican state of Oaxaca. The recipes for these exceptional mezcals have been passed down through generations of the Sanchez Altamirano family, who operates their small distillery in the hilltop village of San Balthazar. Their complete respect for the earth is apparent in every step of the production process, and they are determined to not only reduce their ecological impact, but to also improve local and regional environmental conditions. Although this brand is not certified organic by the USDA, Pierde Almas follows local organic practices to create this mezcal.

The agave fields of Pierde Almas
Pierde Almas Mezcal starts with the finest agave plants, grown without the use of fertilizers or chemicals. The hearts of the magueys, known as piñas, are baked for up to five days in earthen ovens, which run on fallen timber found in the area. (This timber is the result of indiscriminate logging in Oaxaca, and the debris left behind creates a fire hazard if not removed.) After the baked piñas cool, they are crushed under a horse-drawn millstone and then placed in wooden vats for 100% natural fermentation. Fermentation is complete within four to seven days, depending on ambient temperatures, and the resulting mash, known as "tepache", is twice refined in a serpentine copper alembic still. Consistency and uniformity is not important to Pierde Almas - every handmade batch is a like a work of art and can differ every time. Under the watchful eye of the Master Mezcalero, each new harvest delivers a unique mezcal with its own distinctive identity.

After distillation the spirit is bottled directly from the still, as Pierde Almas believes that mezcal should be enjoyed young, or "joven". Their mezcal is never aged in whiskey barrels because they interfere with the natural, traditional flavor of the spirit. Before the Pierde Almas Mezcals are ready to leave the distillery, they must receive the finishing touch: a hand-printed, recycled label. These delicate labels are made from non-polluting, lye and acid free, handmade paper derived from fibers indigenous to the region. This includes coyuche, jonote, pochote, pita, chichicastle, cornhusk, banana leaf, and of course, the maguey fibers left over from production.

Pierde Almas currently produces five types of mezcal derived from different species of agave, however only three of them are available in New York at this time: Pierde Almas Dobadaan, Pierde Almas Tobala Silvestre and Pierde Almas Tobaziche. Keep an eye out for the other two, Pierde Almas Espadin and Pierde Almas Mezcal de Pechuga, because we'll be carrying them as soon as they reach New York!

Cheers from DrinkUpNY!

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