header home Backbar Bar Station Recipe Database Month's Feature "Drink-o-pedia" Mixology Contact

El Buho 100% Agave Mezcal

El Buho 100% Agave


By Robert Plotkin

There is something intriguing about an artisanal mezcal handcrafted on a small, family-owned and operated distillery. That the family has been distilling mezcal on their farm in the heart of Oaxaca for five generations somehow makes it even more fascinating. It should then come as no surprise that the spirit in question—El Buho 100% Agave Mezcal—is a thoroughly delectable spirit, a guaranteed crowd pleaser.

The El Buho farm/distillery [NOM 0110X] is located in Santiago Matitlan, Oaxaca. Protected as an "Appellation of Origin" and produced under strict quality guidelines, the mezcal is made from 100% Espadin agaves. After harvesting, the mature agaves are roasted in an underground stone pit with local mesquite wood for 7 days and nights. The agaves are crushed using a burro-driven Tohona wheel to extract the plant's sugar-rich juice, which is then transferred to a wooden vat for fermentation. The process is precipitated by natural, airborne yeast and takes about 2-3 days to complete. Well water is added to the resulting mash—referred to as aguamiel—before being double-distilled in a copper alembic still that has been in the family for nearly 100 years.

El Buho is bottled at 86 proof—fresh from the still without barrel aging or the often-added worm. Trust that neither is needed in the least. The crystal clear mezcal has a velvety textured body and an herbaceous bouquet laced with spice, vanilla and pepper aromas. Its aromatics are enthralling. The mezcal has a gentle entry that quickly expands bathing the palate with the vegetal flavors of roasted peppers, dried herbs, cocoa and vanilla with light, delicate smoky notes. The finish is long, flavorful and satiny smooth.

El Buho—which is the name of a dark, mystical owl in local folklore—makes an excellent entree to the category. Do yourself a favor and taste the mezcal neat. It is a sublime pleasure unlike others you may have experienced. That said, the brand is a superb spirit to feature in cocktails and mixed drinks.

Handcrafted Mezcals are gaining traction with American consumers. El Buho will certainly bolster the category's popularity. ¡Salud!