|The agave nursery in San Luis del Rio|
Mezcal is such an important part of Zapotec culture that every member of the village contributes to its production. Each person plants their own agave plants in their small gardens and diligently cares for the plant until it is about two years old. The plant is then uprooted and transferred to the hills, where it matures for another four to ten years until it is ready to be harvested. After the agave is harvested, the hearts, or "piñas" are placed over hot rocks in an eight foot pit and covered with moist fiber from the plant, followed by woven palm-fiber mats and a layer of earth. They bake this way for three to five days, absorbing flavors from the earth and wood smoke and oils on the rocks. Each producer leaves the roasted hearts buried for different lengths of time - the producer of Del Maguey Tobala leaves them buried for a month!
|The mill at Chichicapa|
The crushed maguey is then placed in wooden vats that hold about three hundred gallons, and village water is added. The mash is covered with palm-fiber mats and ferments naturally with its own yeasts and microbes for four to thirty days. The mash is then transferred to a seventy-five gallon copper still (introduced by the Spanish settlers), or a thirty gallon ceramic still, which was introduced by Chinese visitors to the area (long before the Spanish conquest era). A copper "sombrero" is placed on the top and the mix is slowly heated by wood fire for twenty four hours, which allows it to vaporize and condense without "burning" the flavor. The fiber is cleared out of the still and the alcohol from the first distillation is placed back into the still and the distillation process is repeated. The resulting mezcal is unlike any spirit you have experienced before. Every Del Maguey Single Village Mezcal is created in extremely small quantities following these traditional production methods which were developed in the 16th century, allowing the mezcals to be certified organic by COMERCAM - The Mexican Regulatory Council For The Quality Of Mezcal.
|The still at Santa Catarina Minas|
Del Maguey currently has eight releases from the villages of Chichicapa, San Luis Del Rio, Santa Catarina Minas and Santo Domingo Albarradas. They are currently working on a few new projects, although they are highly allocated. Created by the same distiller who produces Tobala, the Espadín Especial is an exceptional mezcal created from the Espadín agave. It is currently only available on-premise, but we hope to see it imported to the United States in the near future. Del Maguey is experimenting with barrel-aged products as well, which will be released in limited quantities when they have earned the distillers approval!
|Santo Domingo Albarradas|
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