So what is the Alipús label and what does it represent in the world of mezcal? Alipús is a series made from contracted mezcales, purchased and marketed by the Danzantes group in Oaxaca, and imported into California by Craft Distillers. Each label corresponds to a specific village where the producer is located. All of them are made entirely from Espadin agave (with the exception of the San Andres that has a smidge of something else thrown in during fermentation). The point is to show the geographical differences that terroir, fermentation, and water ultimately play in the flavor of each spirit. Other than the three main factors I just mentioned, they’re all basically produced the same way-made from Espadin agave roasted in an open pit, fermented in used wood, and double-distilled in a wood-fired pot still. The producers in San Andres actually blend in a little cuishe agave during fermentation to add more fruit and floral spice to the flavor.
Pechuga begins with Minero mezcal that has already been double distilled. In preparation for a third distillation they place about 100 liters of mezcal in the still and add about 100 kilos of wild mountain apples and plums, big red plantain bananas, pineapples, a handful of almonds and a few pounds of uncooked white rice. Next, a whole chicken breast (pechuga), skin removed, bone structure complete, is washed in running water for about three hours to remove any grease. This is then suspended by strings in the atmosphere of the still and a 24 hour, third distillation is begun. The vapor passes over the pechuga and condenses into a crystal clear liquid that has an amazing taste and smoothness. The reason for the breast they say, is so the mezcal is not dominated by the fruit…a balance. Upon completion the pechuga is removed from the still and hung in the family Altar room…the most important space in the house.
Pechuga has a nose of basil, lemon, ocean, and fruit. It is almost scotch-like in its smoky taste. And yes, in addition it is salty, very soft, and tastes a wee bit like chicken. The Pechuga production season is limited to year end due to the special ingredients: Wild mountain apples and plums that must be in season and cannot be substituted. This mezcal is the most rare of all.
Vida has an aromatic spicy nose and a subtle fruity, smokey taste with a long, smooth finish.
1oo% Agave Angustifolia (Oaxaca)
Mezcales de Leyenda was founded by Jaun Jesus Lozoya and Cesar Gonzalez Hermosillo. They have long standing relationships with artisanal mescal producers from different regions in Mexico. In 2009 Pedro Ochoa and New York based chef Danny Mena joined Mezcales de Leyenda to educate the public on mezcal as a category. Each silver, unblended mezcal was chosen based on typicity and quality and is distilled in small batches by local families. The agave was roasted in stone pits covered with lava rocks, after which it fermented for about four days in wood vats. It was then distilled in copper pot stills. All the wild agave used to produce Mezcales de Leyenda is grown in a sustainable method and certified organic by the USDA and CCOF (California Certified Organic Farmers).
Agave De Oaxaca