Salsa from a Molcajete or from the Blender?
By Jesús Aguado
“Water from green plants, you knock me down; you kill me, you make me crawl on all four.”
Years ago mescal was not well thought of by many because of its artisanal process. Today, the alcoholic beverage from the agave is very popular, even more so than tequila.
Mescal is meant to be drunk straight, yet it goes well in a margarita or a cosmopolitan. This liquor is produced in just eight Mexican states: Oaxaca, Guerrero, Zacatecas, Durango, San Luis Potosí, Michoacán, Tamaulipas, and of course, in Guanajuato in San Luis de la Paz and San Felipe, birthplace of Jaral de Berrio, the best positioned brand, not only in Mexico, but also in Canada, Europe, and the US.
When I asked the producer the difference between mescal and tequila, he immediately answered “What do you prefer? A salsa from a molcajete or from a blender?” The answer was clear: mescal is artisanal production.
In New Spain, the distillation of alcoholic beverages was forbidden until 1764 because all liquor had to be imported from the old country. However, there is nothing that the power of great public relations cannot overcome, and that is how the Marquis of Jaral de Berrio received royal authorization to produce the “Father of Mescals” in the new land. The juices from the agave were distilled at the then-magnificent Hacienda of Jaral. When the conquerors arrived, they knew how to distill agave, and here they found 200 different varieties and took advantage of it. The vestiges of the first mescal factory are in the Jaral Hacienda, and this year, it will be renovated to recapture its splendor. Mescal will also be produced as it was intended to be. Currently, the mescal is produced in stone ovens and is distilled twice.
The Biblioteca organizes monthly tours to different haciendas, including Jaral. For more information call 127 0450.