Discover a little more about one of the oldest distillations methods in the world, the culture and what makes this spirit different to tequila
Since ancient times, agaves have been used for multiple purposes. They provided honey water that allowed long migrations through the desert; honey, vinegar and alcoholic beverages were obtained from it; their cooked hearts make for a delicious meal; they are used as medicine, the spines as surgical and ritual instruments; the fibers for clothing, the leaves for roofing, the quiote (stalk) for musical instruments, tools and as building material.
Just like corn, agaves provided resources for different nomadic tribes which settled as communities and then developed complex civilized societies. Recent discoveries in Tlaxcala, in the Cacaxtla ruins, showed that mezcal was produced around the year 400 B.C.; this makes Mezcal one of the most ancient distillation methods in the world. In those days, Mezcal was distilled in clay pots, just like it is still done nowadays.
Mezcal (from Nahuatl for “cooked agave”) was produced in small batches close to the ceremonial centers for elite rituals. All written evidence about it was burnt by Spanish occupation army and its production was banned to favor imported wine.
Mezcal was reborn during the 20th century as tequila but mezcal is produced with only one type of agave from one small region. But now mezcal is reclaiming its throne as the representative spirit of Mexican culture.
Tequila, on the other hand, is handmade in ten states, in small batches, with almost 40 different types of agaves. Just like wine, tequila represents its territory and variety, but it also represents its community and culture.
Tequileros are now looting agave fields in Oaxaca, buying agave for their tequilas, but also cutting immature, newborn, wild agaves at an impressive rate, eliminating the agaves’ matrix.
We are fighting alongside these communities to avoid the plant’s extinction, preserving this handcrafted elixir and looking for people who appreciate this culture and history.
Ramiro Vázquez is a representative of Mezcales de Lulá.