You don’t find mezcal, mezcal finds you.
This is our second blog from our new website. It’s kind of crazy when the restaurant first opened 17 years ago websites weren’t relevant and blogs didn’t exist. I’m definitely not a blogger, but I am super excited to have the opportunity to share some of my main street and back road experiences.
On this day I was in Oaxaca, Mexico in search of they’re indigenous alcohol mezcal and they’re celebrated moles, of which will be another conversation. Following signs going east on the 179 towards Hierve el agua, a high mountain natural hot springs the pavement soon ended and became gravel. Eventually summating the Sierra Madre de Oaxaca at 3250 meters I enjoyed commanding views of mountains and valleys far below. I ended up in a highland valley of San Lorenzo. The maguey used for mezcal was everywhere, it reminded me of a warmer, dryer version of Napa Valley. I saw a rancho surrounded by maguey with an old sign that said $ mezcal. I pulled in and was welcomed by javiar. Javiar began to show me around his humble indigenous mezcal factory. And when I say indigenous its because he’s still making mezcal the original “OG” way, where a majority of the mezcal made for export today is made in huge factories where they use ovens instead of fire pits and machines instead of burros. Now back to javiars teachings of his distilling process of making mezcal. After harvesting the maguey plant the sharp thorny leafs are removed to the heart of the maguey, that is referred to as the pina, which resembles a large pineapple. The pina is then thrown into a large underground pit lined with rocks where the pinas rest until they are completely dry. At which time they are set on fire and cooked. The rocks create a sauna effect to simulate an oven.
They are then removed and chopped by javiar sons with an ax until they are in little bolder size pieces. Then they are given to; in my opinion the most valuable player of the process they’re burro. Who for the better part of the day rotates a mill that spins a huge concrete wheel that awakens the maguey by smashing the pinas into moist fibrous pieces.
Then the fibers are pitch forked into open aired tanks to ferment for several days. Once this process is completed, it’s distilled into mezcal. Javiar grabbed two plastic cups of mezcal from his distillery for us to taste. I watched as he shot his and I followed, what a big mistake. It was like nothing I ever tasted my chest exploded like a volcano as my eyes watered and my head shook. Javiar smiled as his ninos looked on. And then he said when your in Oaxaca you don’t find mezcal, mezcal finds you.February 02, 2015 | News