Mezcalero Special

mallets (“mazos”) used to crush roasted agaves at the destilería of don beto
don beto and don valente talking shop
tina at don valente’s destilería
agave rhodacantha


Distilled in September 2013 by Alberto Ortiz (“Don Beto”) from semi-wild madrecuishe (agave karwinskii var.) harvested from a south-facing hillside of rocky calciferous soil at 5400 feet elevation, wood-roasted in a stone horno, mallet-crushed, fermented with wild yeasts, double-distilled on a 200-liter copper potstill.

Don Beto keeps his distillery meticulously clean, which is reflected in his mezcals. He crushes with wood mallets, instead of a mill, because he doesn’t want horses in the distillery. It takes 3 men fourteen hours to crush enough roasted agave to ll one fermentation tank. Yeasts like hand-crushed agaves: more complete, more complex fermentation.

Madrecuishe grows on a stalk, off the ground: less reflected heat, more heat from ambient air: flavors are less baked. The south slope means more sun, more flavor, more fruitiness. The high acidity of madrecuishe yields cleaner flavors, more definition and structure, in the mezcal. This batch rested in a tank for 18 months following distillation: its fluidity is rich and appealing.

Hector Vasquez of Los Danzantes thinks that the difference between 1. metabolization of carbohydrates by photosynthesis in the long madrecuishe stem and 2. metabolization in the piña of other agaves

Distilled in October and November, 2012, by Don Valente Ángel from semi-wild agave rhodacantha (dobadaan), harvested from a south-facing hillside of sandy ferriferous soil at 5340 feet elevation, wood-roasted in a stone horno, shredder-crushed, fermented with wild yeasts, double-distilled on 200-liter copper potstills.

Don Valente crushes his agaves with a shredder from which he has removed most of the teeth, resulting in far less uniform milling and far more liquid fermentations. At left, one of his tinas.

Agave rhodacantha is rare. It is a large agave that as it matures develops a short stalk. It takes about ten years to mature. Mezcals from rhodacantha are spicy and, because the species has a high sugar content, sweet.

The salient characteristic of this release is tht it spent three years in tank. Mezcals respond to being allowed to develop their innate complexity by become harmonious, deep-flavored, and profound. Some think that putting mezcals in oak is not as favorable as simply letting them sit.