Artisanally-produced Montelobos is an unaged Mezcal Joven crafted from carefully cultivated, organic agave espadín (the most common Agave type for Mezcal) that are slow-roasted and small batch-distilled to achieve a perfect balance of sweetness, wood and subtle smoke.
Where Tequila is light, sweet and delicate, Mezcal is big, smoky-sweet, chewy and delicious: think cooked apples and pears, brown sugar and sweet potato overlaid with rich, meaty, smoky bacon flavours.
Super Premium Tequila sales in South Africa are up 93%. Both Mezcal and Tequila are made using agave plants, but Tequila is an un-smoky spirit very different from its ancient father, Mezcal. Tequila is made only from the blue agave and produced in much larger volumes in mechanized autoclaves where the agave hearts are cooked using pressurised steam produced in petrol boilers. There is no fire pit involved and the fibres from the steam-cooked agave are separated from the juices at the beginning, producing a very different flavour to Mezcal.
Understanding how Mezcal is made is key to appreciating this age-old drink that is enjoying new-found fame in SA.
Montelobos Mezcal Joven is distilled from espadín maguey, a species of agave plant grown organically and sustainably by fifth-generation mezcalero Don Abel Lopez who works the Montelobos Palenque (artisanal distillery) using centuries-old cultivation secrets in the shadow of Oaxaca’s Mountain of Wolves (Montelobos’ namesake).
The Palenque is located on the border between Santiago Matatlán and Mitla where the climate stresses the agave just enough during the 10 years they grow there to make it the best in the world for producing Mezcal.
The organic agave piñas (cones) are harvested sustainably and roasted for up to five days in a special, enlarged fire pit filled with no-resin dry hardwood and volcanic river stones, allowing an extraordinary integration of smoky flavours that offer a complex and balanced Mezcal.
After nearly a week, the cooked piñas (cones) are uncovered and moved to the tahona, a single, rough, stone wheel in the middle of a pit where the fibers of the cooked agave hearts are thrown. The wheel is attached to a long pole allowing Rambo, the Montelobos mule, to pull the wheel, grinding the agave into a mash of juice and fibre.
The mosto (mash), is left in stone and wood vats to ferment for approximately seven days to allow all of the agave’s botanicals to present themselves naturally – no yeast is added.
The fermented mash is then placed in a copper tub and heated by wood resulting in a liquid distillate called ordinario. The ordinario is distilled a second time to achieve Montelobos’ unique flavour profile.
Montelobos is as balanced and approachable (for beginners) as it is many-layered and complex (for connoisseurs), capturing what renowned agave-derived spirits expert, Iván Saldaña, calls the “mosaic of balance and complexity of the agave plant”.
Mezcal is a category celebrated for its artisanal craft and authenticity and Montelobos brings together Oaxaca’s leading craftsman with Mexico’s foremost agave expert to set new standards resulting a perfectly-balanced, complex Mezcal that allows all the notes of agave espadín to shine through characteristic Mezcal smokiness.
Recommended Retail Price: R599 per bottle at Norman Goodfellows and Makro.
Nose: Anise, banana, pineapple, green agave, asparagus, smoke
Taste: Roasted agave, vanilla, peppers, firewood and wilderness
Finish: Refined with mild, balanced smoke
Perfect serve: Derecho/ Oaxacan Traditional—Neat with a slice of orange dusted with red chilli salt