Last month’s subscribers kit was the “Mezcal & Chartreuse Kit” – a French and Mexican fusion of flavours! You can buy this kit online now for just £29, or read more about the two main ingredients and why I chose them.
As a small disclaimer, Del Maguey are not paying us in any way for being featured here. I (Toby, TASTE cocktails’ founder) chose this Mezcal for our kit because I wanted to introduce our customers to a really great spirit that they otherwise probably never would have tried. I choose spirits with a story, and here is Del Maguey’s:
There is a saying that ‘You don’t find Mezcal. Mezcal finds you!’ …… I can sip a good organic mezcal all day or night and not feel bad the next day… It does not hurt my body. Del Maguey Founder Ron Cooper
The word Mezcal comes from Metl or Mexcalmetl, the prehispanic Nahuatl language, meaning Agave. Today the commonly used word for Agave in Oaxaca is Maguey (pronounced ma-gay).
Nearly 25% (just under a million) of the total Indian population of Mexico live in the state of Oaxaca. The indigenous languages and cultures of Oaxaca are unusually diverse and un-industrialized and unchanged by modern society.
Mezcal is mostly produced in the Oaxaca region of Mexico, and the locals personify the artisanal approach to distilling. We’re seeing a resurgence of these types of independent distilleries around the world, but in Oaxaca – they’ve been doing it for generations.
The village distillers follow a strict adherence to the natural, rustic and pure process they established over 500 years ago, to produce mezcal with only two ingredients: the heart of the maguey (agave), and 10% pure water added to the fermentation process.
Del Maguey, Single Village Mezcals are truly unlike any others. They are often noted as being the purest available in the world.
Single Village Mezcal
The “Single Village Mezcal” approach is a methodology that provides village producers (palenqueros) with the freedom to produce mezcal using ancient practices that were established before the Spanish conquest.
Del Maguey harnesses ancient, original organic processes and combines them with the various local micro-climates to create different products with their own unique taste and character that vary from village to village. The high, narrow mountain valley mezcals are simpler, more subtle, drier and smoother, whereas the broad-low valley mezcals are fruiter, more complex and spicier.
Del Maguey were the first producer to credit each product after the village where their Mezcal is made, and they’re all bottled in distinctive green bottles with simplistic, but eye-catching labels synonymous with the brand.
Focus on the Vida Mezcal
The Mezcal in our TASTE Cocktail box is the Vida Mezcal that has a nose of fruity aromatics, a hint of honey, vanilla and roast agave; the palate offers ginger, cinnamon, burnt sandalwood, banana and tangerine, with a long, soft finish.
The fruit forward, easy sipping Del Maguey Vida is an approachable introduction to the spirit. Wall Street Journal
VIDA San Luis Del Rio is an artisanal, organic mezcal from Del Maguey that was launched in 2010. This versatile mezcal is twice distilled in small wood-fired riverside copper stills, and is ideal in cocktails.[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VlN_OLoympw]
How Mezcal is made
The leaves of the maguey are removed to reveal the heart of the plant. This is then roasted for 3 to 5 days in a conical pit over hot stones that are covered with maguey fibre and earth.
The maguey are then ground into a mash using horse-powered stone mills or hand held mallets. This mash then begins a 14-30 day natural fermentation process in wooden vats, before it’s distilled twice in wood-fired clay or copper stills.
An Introduction to the Del Maguey Founder
The Los Angeles times dubbed Ron Cooper as “the architect of mezcal’s resurrection” for single-handedly revitalising this Mexican spirit.
Ron first visited Teotitlán del Valle Oaxaca, in the heart of the Mezcal producing region, during the early seventies, when he and a fellow artists piled their surf boards on top of a VM van to head to Panama. That’s where the dream to start a Del Maguey began, but it took another 20 years to deliver his vision to introduce the world to previously unavailable 100% organic, artisanal mezcal.
A good mezcal has a very different high than other spirits. After a sip, it seems my feet come off the ground a centimeter or two – a floating feeling— and an intense, comfortable connection with the earth and the sky. Next, the colors become a bit brighter, and if drinking with others, the connection between people gets stronger and the conversation more humorous and fluid. Del Maguey Founder Ron Cooper
Want to taste Mezcal, and try them it in some fantastic cocktail recipes? Check out our Mezcal & Chartreuse cocktail kit.