Completely handmade without the use of electricity or motor vehicles, Trago Sagrado Mezcal pours out the taste of authentic Mexico. The family has not changed their method since 1857. Let's follow this intriguing process step by step
1. The Agave Durangensis, called locally Maguey Cenizo, grow wild in the mountains of Durango, Mexico. They are harvested after reaching 12 -15 years maturity.
2. When the Cenizo Agave sends up a long stem in the center called a quiote, it indicates the plant is nearing the end of its life cycle at about 12 years old. The men of Trago Sagrado cut off the quiote as soon as it appears. This forces the the plant to concentrate it's sap in its core. One to three years later the men return for the harvest. They chop off the long, spiked leaves with a spade and take only the heart, which looks like a pineapple. Hence, they call the agave heart a piña.
3. To maintain sustainability for future generations, Trago Sagrado workers leave the best cenizo agaves to go to seed.
4. The hearts contain the delicious sap that will eventually turn to mezcal after a lot more work. The men spend 4 days gathering enough agave for a single batch of mezcal. It will take 8 kilos of agave hearts to make a single liter of mezcal.
5. Burros transport the agave hearts down the mountains. The rugged mountains make these donkeys necessary, and they have strong backs to carry many piñas.
6. They unload the agave at their remote mountain distillery. This place still has no electricity, and everything is completed just as it was 200 years ago.
In a pit, the mescaleros prepare the outdoor oven that will cook the agave. They light a wood fire of mesquite that was also gathered from the mountains. It is left to burn down to charcoal.
7. After a 6 hour burn that heats up the stones lining the pit, they cover the charcoal with more lava stones to absorb the heat and keep it consistent.
8. Pulp leftover from the last batch is then placed over the hot stones to provide a protective barrier so that the agave won't burn from direct contact.
9. Next the agave is split in half and piled up on top of the pulp. The agave is covered with a canvas blanket to keep it clean. A thick layer of dirt will cover the canvas and serve as the insulation to keep the oven hot for 5-7 days.
10. This natural oven gently cooks the agave for a week, preserving all the delicate flavors of the wild agave plants. It also imparts a gentle, smokey aroma to the mezcal.
11. The earthen oven is then disassembled and the softened agaves are carted into the distillery.
12. The men place the cooked agave inside open pits for the mashing. At other, less traditional mescalerías, a horse will rotate a large millstone wheel to crush the agave. At Trago Sagrado, however, the process is all done by hand. The men chop up the agave with axes in a manner reminiscent of the gentle maceration method used by small craft wineries. It preserves the delicate flavors of the wild Cenizo agave.
13. Fermentation occurs spontaneously once water is added to the mash in subterranean pits. A natural spring supplies the water, and wild yeasts supply the spontaneous fermentation. Everything is 100% wild and natural in Trago Sagrado Mezcal.
14. The fermented juice, called vino de agave, will be run through the still 2-3 times to reach the purity desired for mezcal. Mesquite wood is burned to heat the still. During each pass, the liquid is divided into 3 parts (head, heart & tail). Only the heart is saved for drinking, while the head and tail are used for sanitizing equipment.
15. The family then bottles the precious liquid by hand, each one undergoing a careful quality inspection so that every sip is perfect.