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Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Fabrica de Mezcal

At the end of a few long days traveling around, we stopped off at a small mezcal producer’s house. For those of you who are unaware of what Mezcal is, it’s an alcoholic drink that is famous in this region. It is made using a plant called the maguey. The first time I heard of it was at a party here in Ixtepec, when someone produced a bottle of it. At the time I had never heard of it before, and due to the name I thought it had some relation to mescaline, the hallucinogenic drug that is also obtained from a cactus plant. I was sort of expecting everyone that was drinking it to start tripping out but i later learnt despite the similar name, mezcal does not contain mescaline or other psychedelic substances.

Throughout Oaxaca, mezcal is still made in the same way that it was produced 200 years ago. It is usually drank straight, and in fact in my whole time here in Mexico I’ve seen a lot of people drinking Mezcal and never seen anyone drinking it with a mixer.

The plant in the picture below is the maguey. The leaves are cut off to obtain what they refer to as the piña or pineapple. Cutting the leaves off serves two purposes. First of all it promotes the retention of water within the centre of the plant and secondly the other parts can be used to grow new plants

The newly planted maguey then takes around 9 or 10 years to grow with the mature plant weighing up to 150 kg. When the plant is harvested it is then cut into four and put into a large oven. It is cooked for 72 hours before being ground down in a mill. The mill consists of a large stoned which was traditionally pulled by a horse. The large stone rolls over the cooked plant squeezing all of the juice out which is collected below. The juice then runs through underground pipes which lead it to the tank where it is fermented. It is then distilled to make the drink that is so popular throughout Oaxaca today.

After being shown how Mezcal is produced, we were given a chance to taste all of the different flavours of the drink that now exist. As a non drinker I found it practically impossible to even taste never mind drink without screwing up my face, but I think Ciara, Roisin and Tommy found the experience a lot more enjoyable!

1 comment:

  1. I liked your post ! I didn't know about mescaline..Greetings !
    p.s.- I'm so clueless ! I think I had seen in Ixtepec ? right ? I do not know if you remember me :D