Agave Farmer

ABOUT MEZCAL

400 years ago, when the Spanish arrived in Mexico they carried with them the art of distillation. It was not long before they passed on their knowledge to the native inhabitants of the “New World”. Using the techniques to cook and distill the agave plant, the ancestors of today’s Mezcaleros, gave birth to the first “spirit” of the Americas: Mezcal.

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THE WORD MEZCAL

The word “mezcal” comes from Nahuatl mexcalli [meʃˈkalːi], which means "oven-cooked agave". It has a distinct smoky flavor which is generated from the unique manner in which the agave is “baked”. There are over 40 varieties of agave, any of which can be used to produce Mezcal, but each of which has its own flavor.

Agave Plant

Mezcal & tequila

Interestingly, despite its notoriety, Tequila is technically a Mezcal, which is made only from Blue Agave and only in the Country of Mexico and only in the State of Jalisco. However, due to government control and regulations, “Tequila” cannot be called Mezcal, as it has its own Appellation of Origin (AO or DO). Mezcal also has been recognized internationally with its DO since 1994, and can legally only be produced in the states of Oaxaca, Guerrero, Durango, San Luis Potosí, Puebla and Zacatecas. ​

Jimador Pedro | IZO Mezcal

Harvesting

Our Jimadores set out to find the best wild, mature Cenizo agave plants, in order to produce the finest Mezcal. Understanding that it takes 8 to 10 years for Cenizo agave to reach maturity and be ready for cutting, it is essential that each plant be allowed to ripen perfectly to achieve its exotic flavors. Stripping the large, thorny leaves from agave plants located on sloping terrain is an arduous task, which must be performed by hand. Once the heart of a plant has been exposed, it is cut into manageable pieces, which are then strapped to one of our sturdy burros (“Cenizo, Mezcal and Agave”) to be carried to our trucks. Each truck transports thousands of pounds of agave to the distillery to be “cooked”.

Jimador Jose | IZO Mezcal

Cooking

Our facility has three “in-ground ovens”, lined with volcanic rock, which can each hold up to 12 tons of agave hearts. The hearts are placed over burning oak logs that are spread across the bottom of the pit in order to heat the volcanic rock. Our primary source of Oak is obtained from fallen trees from the surrounding countryside, and it is what gives our Mezcal its characteristic smoky flavor. The smoldering logs, red hot lava rock and agave hearts are covered with huge tarps, which are, in turn, covered with dirt. It requires anywhere from 3 to 6 days to “bake” the hearts until the juice is ready to be extracted in the “Grinding” step.

Jimadores with Mezcal | IZO

grinding

Hardworking members of our team carefully remove the dirt and tarp and hand carry each “mushy” agave heart to the grinder. Here the sweet, delicate nectar is squeezed from the hearts, leaving only the fibrous material.

Mezcal carrying agave hearts | IZO

fermentation

Once the nectar is reduced to the proper level of sugar by adding just the right amount of our well water, it is transferred to our fermentation tanks and the natural fermentation process begins. No leaven or additives are combined with the juice, because we are committed to the quality and natural flavors that only Cenizo agave can produce.

Truck dumping agave hearts near fire pits

Distillation

Hardworking members of our team carefully remove the dirt and tarp and hand carry each “mushy” agave heart to the grinder. Here the sweet, delicate nectar is squeezed from the hearts, leaving only the fibrous material.

Volvanic rock | IZO

filtration & repose

The double distillation process requires about a day and a half to complete, whereupon the Mezcal is rigorously filtered two times and then allowed to rest for ten days to two weeks. The result is an exquisite agave spirit, with a remarkably consistent flavor and bouquet, exuding delicate notes of herbs, fruits and spices from start to finish.

IZO Bottle process

bottling & labeling

The final step is to bottle IZO and apply our distinctive label and cap. A great deal of time and thought went into the “look” of IZO, because we need each bottle to convey the story of our hand-crafted spirit made from the heart and soul of our IZO family.

Observe the shaded smoke rising from the black bottom, representing the subtle smokiness of the Mezcal. Note the hand-applied labels are black both on the front and back sides of the paper. This allows sunlight shining through the Mezcal to reveal the pristine, almost blue-tinged, clarity of IZO and not to be some reflection off a white paper label. Our earthy fire pits are evidenced in the “volcanic rock” imprints you can see and feel as you gently run your hand across the label. The onyx cap, sourced locally from Durango, is specially designed to be assembled with the stopper at our distillery. Each bottle is then hand-corked and hand-labeled by our team of craftsmen. Even the colors and font on the letter-pressed labels were selected to convey how each bottle has been meticulously prepared, to ensure the complex flavor of the finished spirit is conveyed as our smooth, superior quality, most delightful IZO Mezcal!

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