Our artisanal mezcal production process
After more than 8 years of being sheltered by the Matatlán sky and field, we bring the maguey heads (piñas) to the “palenque”,
the place where the magic begins. There is much love and patience in this art to transform the raw agave heads to a distillate which is rich in aromas and flavors, our beloved Dainzú.
We are blessed to be able to manage and control the mezcal production chain… It comprehends sowing, caring and maintaining agave as it grows, harvesting at its due time and cutting agave cores in our fields, as well as cooking in a conical stone oven, grinding with a tahona, fermenting in wood containers “tinas” and double distilling in copper stills at our Palenque.
A closer look to the cooking art
This stage is fantastic. We start by turning the conical 12-TON stone oven on at 5AM. However beforehand, we set it by placing a layer of mesquite or oak firewood, and then another one consisting of heat-resistant stones which are to take and keep high temperatures throughout the cooking endurance.
While the stones get red-hot for which is needed about 5 hours, each 220-440 pounds (100-200 Kg) agave stem is cut into 3 or 4 pieces with axes and machetes and placed all around the oven.
When do we know that the raw maguey is ready to be put into the oven? Just when the stones are red-hot! As soon as that happens, the maestros mezcaleros fix a layer of humid bagasse and immediately place the pieces of piñas on top of that. The bagasse serves to prevent the maguey from burning.
Now that the maguey cores are arranged into the oven, they are covered by yute sacks and finally, a soil layer seals the oven from 4 to 5 days. And..... the cooking is done!
The grinding step
There is an outdoor cooling zone where the agave chills and afterwards, the circular stone mill or Egyptian mill called tahona is taken into action by an adorable horse (either Macario or Spirit), rotating it. As the tahona moves, the cut-up cooked agaves release sugary juices and fibers, which are to be fermented.
Given that this stage is key to give most of the aromas and flavors to the Dainzú mezcal, we provide special care and patience in it. It’s worth mentioning that during the cooling step (always in the shadow), agave cores get yeast from natural environment, something highly appreciated during fermentation.
It takes place in a wooden vat filled with the crushed agave, all in all, where only warm water is added to help fermenting sugars into alcohol. Whereas warm water triggers a good yeast reaction, mixing all the content helps to get an even fermentation. No artificial yeasts are used to accelerate fermentation, on the contrary it is left to nature. During warm days fermentation could take from 3 to 5 days, while cold days could make this process take more than 8 days.
There is communication between both ends. From one side there is sound and movements of bubbles coming from the fermentation vat and from the other side the wisdom and knowledge from the maestros mezcaleros. This communication leads to determine the right moment to move on to the next step, distillation.
In the first distillation both the mosto (maguey fibers) and the tepache (fermented liquids) are put in copper potstill which is closed and connected to a long tube that in turn is connected to a condensing coil, which is in a tank constantly fed with cool water. The content of 1 wooden vat is enough to fill 4 of our copper potstills.
Applying the principles of distillation, the content of the potstill is brought to a boil to let steam rise. The latter goes through both the long tube and the condensing coil, where finally the steam is converted into liquid given that the coil is immersed in water. This is collected into containers and when all the condensation is over, the liquid is put into the copper potstill for a second distillation. This second time serves to purify the now called “mezcal”, obtaining a high-quality distillate of 70 to 80% Alc. Vol. in the heads and from 48 to 55% Alc. Vol. along the corazon (heart).
High energy pays off, for filling our bottles with mezcal Dainzú, a mezcal full of love throughout all the process and worthy of sharing with spirits connoisseurs and people that appreciate the distinctive and impeccable taste of spirits.
With due care and safety we filter our mezcal, fill, seal and label/pack all of our bottles. Our family verifies that everything is in order so you can receive it.
Enjoy it. It’s full of history and the heart of a small family from Matatlán, Oaxaca.
Mezcal Dainzu - Shandiaw Sbahs SPR de RL