mexico has been known for the distillation of maguey since the production of tequila. mexico has been known for the distillation of agave at least since the production of tequila. but the great biodiversity of agave species only becomes apparent with a look into the unique production of mezcal.
what makes maguey so exciting?
what makes maquey that special?
around 220 different maguey species exist, 160 of which grow in mexico. only a few maguey varieties could be cultivated until today, all other magueys grow wild in the pine forests and the mountain ranges of oaxaca and six other mexican states. this contributes to a careful and respectful treatment of nature and counteracts monocultures. the traditionally rooted and blessed plant is also a rather tough plant and needs between five and fourty years until it flowers for the first and thus also the last time. when blossoming the maguey has reached its point of maturity for the production of mezcal. this has earned mezcal the gold medal for the longest distillation process of a raw material worldwide. also spiritually, maguey has become firmly anchored in mixtec and zapotec ceremonies and is celebrated to this day as a festive and sacred drink.
the taste of maguey is as varied as the rich biodiversity of the oaxacen landscape. each maguey gives the mezcal a different flavor, making it probably one of the most exciting and diverse drinks in the world.
what makes the production that exclusive?
in a demanding and time-consuming production process, mezcal is to this day still handmade by small scale farmers. the first step of processing is the harvest and the release of the fruit core. thereafter the maguey is cooked in the traditional palenques (earth pits). in the third step, the cooked maguey is reduced in size with a millstone and prepared for fermentation. after another 3-5 days of fermentation, the maestro's or maestra's instinct is required. he or she determines the state of fermentation to the minute and immediately orders the further processing of the mass when the perfect fermentation point is reached. in the last step, the mezcal is distilled two to three times, bottled and stored.
so, it can take up to 40 years before this traditional drink can be bottled. one more reason to enjoy and appreciate mezcal to the fullest.