In Oaxaca there is a well-known saying, “Por todo mal…Mezcal…Por todo bien…tambien!”. Which translates to, “For all things bad, Mezcal, for all things good, also Mezcal!”. Since the first century A.D. Mezcal has played a vital role in Mexican culture. It has been associated with feasting and ritual ceremonies and is commonly found in the myths and legends of Mexican culture. Unlike its often industrialized relative Tequila, Mezcal is chiefly hand-made by the people for the people and has remained a cottage industry operated by family farms. Just as Cognac is a type of Brandy created in a specific region of France, Tequila is a sub genus of Mezcal made in specific regions of Mexico using the Weber Blue Agave species.
The Story Behind Mezcal
Ancient Aztec legends tell us of the orgin of the agave and birth of Mezcal, a gift from the gods to man. Quetzalcoatl, the god of redemption and giver of life fought the evil Tzintzimitl in the great battle to restore light to the world. It was said during the battle Quetzalcoatl disguised himself and his soulmate Mayahuel as branches on a tree caressing in the wind to save his love from harm. In a vengeful fit the evil Tzintzimitl ripped the branch Mayahuel was inhabiting from the tree and crushed her on the ground. Heartbroken, Quetzalcoatl buried the broken branch in the earth beneath his feet. His tears streaked down his face and rained down on the ground where he buried his true love. From this mound grew the first agave. The gods struck the heart of the agave with lightning from the heavens which granted the agave nectar special properties which soothed his broken heart and his tortured soul. The name Mezcal is believed to have originated from the Nahuatl tribal words “metl” which means agave, and “ixcalli” which means cooked.
Unlike Tequila, Mezcal can be made from a rainbow of agave species and each offers a unique taste like grape varietal in wine making. It has a spectrum of subtleties to discover however many tasters note a strong smoky and earthy bouquet blossoming with the natural taste of the agave. Mezcal is certified and protected as an appellation of origin which ensures the genuine quality and characteristics imparted by the geographical environment it was produced in. The Official Mexican Standard ensures the process of certification, verification, and monitoring of genuine Mezcal. Casa Madana works with multiple families with hundreds of generations of experience in hand crafting this truly divine spirit.
Agave has continually supported the local economy since the day it was discovered and is deeply-rooted in local traditions and lifestyle. Roasted agave, the base material for every bottle of Mezcal, is sold at local markets around Mexico in chunks to be enjoyed as a treat. It is naturally resistant to pests and drought which make it easy to grow organically without the use of dangerous chemicals. It is a pure and resilient species which thrives in the inhospitable desert environment when nothing else can find a way. This unwavering perseverance echoes the spirit of the families who have honored its heritage with fine hand crafted Mezcal for centuries.
Each family Casa Madana partners with still uses the traditional methods of collecting and hand crafting their Mezcal from 100% pure natural agave. The agave’s tall spikey leaves grow in a tight rosette like armor around its flowering center stalk. Farmers encourage the center stalk to swell into a bulb like shape known as the pina by skillfully trimming it back as the plant reaches maturity. Since agave only flowers once in its lifetime and dies after doing so the farmer transplants the cut portion near the mother plant. This process ensures the successful reproduction of the plant and the sustainability of the species.
Typically, an agave plant will grow 8 to 10 years before reaching maturity. Each agave pina is hand-harvested by a skilled campesino using a specialized half-moon shaped blade on a handle called a coa. The campesino precisely jabs at the pina chopping off hundreds of leaves to prepare it. When he is done the agave pina looks like a giant pineapple and can weigh anywhere from 25 to 300 pounds!
The freshly harvested agave pinas are quartered and loaded into special volcanic stone lined pits called palenques. The traditional wood charcoal pit ovens gently roast the agave pina concentrating its naturally sweet nectar. The locally sourced wood charcoal imparts a subtle smokiness which lingers on the palate and is the calling card of a truly authentic Mezcal. The roasted agave is then transferred to a stone mill and slowly crushed. This extracts the sweet nectar and creates the mash. The crushed agave mash is then transferred into small batch copper stills for fermentation and distillation before bottling.
Casa Madana Mezcal is an organic fine spirit hand crafted from 100% all natural agave. Our unwavering attention to detail and dedication to preserving the methods of production passed down through centuries of family traditions are what defines Casa Madana Mezcal.
We invite you to enlighten your palette to the bold taste of Mezcal as it should be and savor the tradition in each sip of Casa Madana Mezcal.