Another of Del Maguey’s fantastic range of single village mezcals. Del Maguey occupy a role somewhat similar to independent bottlers of Scotch whisky, searching out the very best mezcals that small scale, artisanal producers have to offer, then bringing them to the world.
This particular offering is from the San Luis Del Rio village in Oaxaca (the heart of mezcal production), found in a remote, hot valley two hours along a winding dust road. The valley is quenched by the flowing Rio Hormiga Colorada or Red Ant River, and Maguey Espadin – the agave plant used to make mezcal – grows all around.
The agave is harvested at between 6–8 years to make this mezcal, and it grows at an altitude of about 3000 feet. It is then roasted for between 3–8 days using Mezquite, Quebra, and Huamuchil woods, giving the spirit its distinctive smoked agave flavour. The roasted maguey hearts are then milled by horse and wheel and fermented in large wooden tubs called “Tinas” for between 6 and 8 days. To create the agave beer that will then make the spirit, pure spring water is added. This liquid is then moved to a copper still of just 350 litres capacity, very small by industry standards. Each Tina of fermented agave produces about 70–90 litres of mezcal, meaning this is an incredibly small batch operation. San Luis del Rio is bottled at 47%.
The final product is a smokey, spicy mezcal, with a distinctive citrus flavour and a creamy, buttery palate. The finish is precise and warming. Very enjoyable straight, this mezcal would also go excellently with grapefruit juice.