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Mezcalistas

Don Pedro Minero Tasting Notes

This no name mezcal with a very attractive label features the visage of the mezcalero Don Pedro. We think he’s something of a national treasure, Mexico really should establish a living legends award for people like him who animate the national culture with their wisdom. But I digress. Don Pedro makes mezcal not far from Oaxaca and has for quite some time.

The details:

  • Location: San Dionisio Ocotepec, Oaxaca
  • Agave: Espadin
  • Maestro Mescalero: Don Pedro
  • Bottle: NA
  • Batch No. :NA
  • ABV: 47%

Tasting notes:

This is not a shy mezcal, it comes at you head on and can easily overwhelm drinkers who are either unaccustomed to strong mezcals or people new to the drink. The nose on this Minero is forthright caramelized agave. The flavor assumes that smoke is integral to mezcal and puts it right at the front of your first sip. The caramelized agave asserts itself on the palate along with a bit of olla type minerality, not that Don Pedro distills in clay.

This is something of a holiday mezcal, strong enough to stand up to Thanksgiving and Christmas meals but also bringing flavors of cinnamon and raw sugar like Piloncillo to the fore.

The background:

This bottle is part of the Los Palenqueros series which we know about because we created it as a way to bring some of mezcal wold’s hidden treasures to light when we first began Mezcalistas. The idea was born in 2011 between Susan and our creative director Christina Mariana Garcia as a way to highlight the maker right there on the label because they are really the author of what’s inside. This is an entirely sub-rasa concern where we’re buying the occasional batch from people like Don Pedro, bottling, and distributing it to friends so don’t go looking for it at your local store. This particular set of tasting notes may strike you as self serving, it has to since we’re involved in the project, but we’d be writing about it even if we weren’t involved. We wouldn’t be involved with people like Don Pedro if we didn’t really love what he makes.

We first met Don Pedro Garcia in November of 2011 when we stopped at his palenque in San Dionisio Ocotepec. It is a small operation with one horno, a small mule pulled tahona and one still. Don Pedro is a first generation mezcal maker, having learned his trade from another mezcalero. He produces only two mezcals, an espadin which he calls Minero and a Pechuga. We have written about him before, and even produced a pop-up event at Cafe Central in Oaxaca in 2012 that featured his mezcal. Among friends in Oaxaca, his mezcal became known as the Prometido mezcal because of how we met, and is the inspiration behind our Prometido t-shirt. Don Pedro is in his early 70s and as he has no children to pass his palenque to when he passes, he explained in his philosophical tone, “my mezcal will go with me when I am gone.”

His process is traditionally Oaxacan, and he sells only to a local market, refusing to sell batches to anyone else to sell. Convincing him to sell us 20 liters anytime we are in Oaxaca is a careful negotiation, arguing over price, us always demanding to pay more, and a promise to only gift to people we know. He refuses to produce mezcal if he cannot buy fully ripe and mature agave. He has become a part of Susan’s family and we consider it an honor and pleasure to call him a friend.

Don Pedro Garcia with Susan’s family in 2016

Max co-founded Mezcalistas with Susan way back in 2012. Before that he was a journalist at Salon.com and The San Francisco Chronicle.

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