It was a magical day. I went with a couple of friends to escape the pressures of working in the city. We left with two missions. Relax and to find some mezcal in Sola de Vega, Oaxaca. We had no guide and literally no idea what to expect.
In Matatlán, the process is easy. Drive to the city and everyone has a palenque on the road. In Sola de Vega, you’ve got to work. The first place we went to was literally a joke. He had all sorts of mezcally looking stuff, but really had interest in sharing about his craft. It was more like he was born into a world he despised and was determined to survive. But he was easy to find.
We left with no samples to find some other options. I suggested we head down a dirt road and we soon came upon a small seafood restaurant. Going inside, we asked about a local palenque. Keep going they said, it’s about a hundred meters up on the right.
That’s where we found the elusive “Coyote’ mezcal. I sat and talked with Daniel Quiroz’ mom for about an hour. She showed off the entire process and gave us a few samples. I’d have bought a bottle even if the mezcal was not real good, just to be polite.
We asked her about others in the area and she directed us to Macedonio.
He was a little suspicious at first. Living literally in a shack on the bank of the river, his set up obscured by the biggest wild poinsettia I’ve ever seen. He too showed me the entire process, including the giant wooden tongs used to move the maguey mash.
What a day. But one you’ll only have if you get off the beaten track in My Mexico and explore. But know this… on this trek, there’s a great payoff. A bottle or two of rare mezcal you’ll never get anywhere in the states and a chance to get to know some of the folks preserving the ancient art form of making mezcal, handed down through generations of the Mexican people.
Here’s our reviews of these two mezcals, from Ed Draves, our resident official taster of all things mezcal for us here at Dave Millers Mexico!
Brand… No brand here… these are pure, 100% Ancestral Mezcals from Macedonio Juarez and Daniel Quiroz, both of Sola de Vega, Oaxaca.
Category… Both of these mezcals are milled in a wood canoe, with a wooden mallet. No metal ever touches the magueys used for these mezcals. Both use water from the local river in the fermentation process and are distilled in clay stills.
From Macedonio Juarez…
Tasting notes… this espadin has very unique nose of yeast and bread dough poking through. There’s pleasant ample fruit notes in the mouth with a little lilac, followed by a nice, pleasant minerally smokey finish. This mezcal is nice and subtle.
Maguey Rating… 2.5 magueys
Availability… Not available in the US
Cost… $10.00 a liter, when available, in Sola de Vega
From Daniel Quiroz…
Tasting notes… this “Coyote” mezcal has a very fruity sweet and floral nose with a hint of anise in the background. In the mouth the anise predominates with spice and plenty of heat balancing a full body. The fruit (cherry/berry candylike ) returns on the finish.
Maguey Rating… 3.5 magueys
Availability… Not available in the US
Cost… $20.00 a liter, when available, in Sola de Vega
If you’re going… Sola de Vega is about 1.5 hours south of Oaxaca City. Take the road to Zimatlán and follow the signs. It’s an easy drive with lots of great scenery. Stop in the hotel in the city center of Sola de Vega and buy your bottles if you plan on getting some mezcal. Don’t forget the tops! Expect to pay about a $15.00 USD for three or four bottles.
About our ratings…
Here’s where we start. Ed Draves, of Buffalo, New York reviews all of our mezcals.
We love mezcal, but more importantly, we love artisanal mezcal. The type that is hand made, following the centuries old traditions passed down from one generation to the next.
We only review small batch mezcal so if you are expecting to read about mezcals that come from some 10,000 liter vat, you won’t find them here. We don’t believe that they truly represent the heart and soul of the truly magical mezcals that are produced in Oaxaca and other places around the great country of Mexico.
We rate everything on a scale of 1 to 5 magueys.
If we write it up, it’s good and will be guaranteed at least 1 maguey. 3 magueys is top notch and the cherished 5 maguey rating is reserved for the really special stuff. If you are fortunate to have a mezcal that gets 4 or 5 magueys, consider yourself fortunate, because it is a top of the mountain spirit, in the same class as a fine French wine or a treasured single malt Scotch.
Finally, not all of the mezcals we review are available in the US. This reflects the view of Ulises Torrentera of In Situ Mezcaleria, Dave Miller’s Mexico and many mezcaleros, that to truly appreciate mezcal, sooner or later you need to visit us in Oaxaca.