A Sacred Drink
Natural from Start to Finish
Watch the making of Trago Sagrado
Trago Sagrado means "Sacred Drink"
Completely handmade without modern technology or vehicles.
The family producers have not changed their methods since they started in 1857.
Follow the Mezcal Trail
Find The Agave
The Agave Durangensis, called locally Maguey Cenizo, grows wild in the mountains of Durango, Mexico. It is harvested only after reaching 12 -15 years maturity.
Time to Harvest
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.
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 piñas for a single batch of mezcal. It will take 8 kilos of piñas to make a single liter of mezcal.
Load the Donkeys
Burros transport the agave hearts down the mountains. The rugged mountains make these donkeys necessary, and they have strong backs to carry many piñas.
Local wood is also gathered from the mountains and stacked next to the pit. This wood is mostly Huizache and scrub oak.
Prepare the Pit
They unload the wood and 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 fire and let it burn down to charcoal. After about 6 hours of burning, the men cover the charcoal with lava stones to absorb the heat and keep it consistent.
Recycle the Pulp
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.
Cover and Bake
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 is piled on top of the canvas and serves as the insulation to keep the oven hot for the next 3-5 days.
This natural oven gently cooks the agave, preserving all the delicate flavors of the wild agave plants. It also imparts a gentle, smokey aroma to the mezcal.
Ready when Tender
When tender and juicy, the agaves are ready. The earthen oven is then disassembled and the softened agaves are carted into the distillery.
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 agave.
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. Fermentation can take anywhere from 3 days to a couple of weeks. It's up to nature how long it takes.
Distill with Love
Woodfire heats the still. The fermented juice, called vino de agave, will be run through the still 2-3 times to reach the purity desired for mezcal. In each pass, the distilled liquid is separated into three parts: head, heart & tail. This refers to the beginning, middle and end of the liquid being distilled. The head and tail are used for cleaning and sterilizing equipment. Only the heart (middle part) is pure enough to be bottled.
Bottled by Hand
Trago Sagrado bottles the precious liquid by hand, each one undergoing a careful quality inpsection so that every sip is perfect.