Artisanal mezcals are on the charts with a bullet. Enthusiasts and aficionados of agave spirits have made the native Oaxacan spirit the fastest growing segment of the category. Consumers seem to be inexorably drawn to mezcal's authenticity, diversity and brilliant range of flavors. These are indeed the glory days for mezcal. There are now more high quality mezcals being marketed in the United States than ever before, none more sophisticated than the skillfully crafted joven mezcals of Los Siete Misterios.
The brand's portfolio of 100% agave mezcals hails from the town of Sola de Vega, which is located in the southern part of Oaxaca about 60 miles from the capital of Oaxaca de Juárez. The town is situated at the base of the Sierra Madre del Sur mountain range, whose steep and rugged terrain is ideal for growing agaves. Nearly 20 different varieties of agave grow in the mountains.
While the vast majority of mezcals are produced from the Espadin variety of agave, Los Siete Misterios produces unaged, vintage dated mezcals from numerous varieties. In addition to the Espadin, Los Siete Misterios crafts its mezcals from Barril, Mexicano Amarillo, Coyote, Arroqueño, and the famed Tobalá agave. Tasting these Oaxacan gems side by side is a rare treat.
The Los Siete Misterios distillery (NOM 0153X) is dedicated to using only traditional techniques for producing its mezcals. They are all made from wild or cultivated agaves between 7 and 9 years in age. After harvesting, the trimmed agave piñas are put into an earthen pit and slowly roasted over a wood fire that is covered with a deep layer of river stones. The agaves are stacked in the pit until they are above ground level and then covered with maguey leaves to seal in the heat and smoke. The cooking process lasts about 3 to 5 days.
Once the agave hearts are fully cooked, they are removed from the oven and beaten with wooden mallets until the plants' fibers tear apart and form a thick paste. The fibers and paste is transferred to large wooden barrels, mixed with spring water and allowed to naturally ferment for 2 to 3 days depending on the temperature and humidity.
The fermented wash is then double-distilled in clay pots, a process that requires more time and effort than modern distillation techniques. The fermented juices and fibers contained inside the clay pots are heated over a direct fire. The evaporated vapor rises to the top of the jar where it condenses inside a pipe and collected outside of the pot. The distillate is then redistilled and rendered to no less than 42% alcohol by volume.
One of the more complex spirits of the range is Los Siete Misterios Jove 100% Arroqueño Agave Mezcal. Bottled at 48.7% alcohol (97.4 proof), the crystal clear, medium-weight mezcal has a mild bouquet with the delicate aromas of lavender, vanilla and dark chocolate with tantalizing wisps of smoke. The aromatics take awhile to fully develop, so be patient. The mezcal's palate is floral, spicy and herbaceous.
As the name states, Los Siete Misterios Jove 100% Tobalá Agave Mezcal is made entirely from the Tobalá agave, a rare variety that grows wild in the remote, rugged cliffs of the Sierra Madres. The shimmery, unaged mezcal is bottled at a lip-tingling 48.1% alcohol (96.2 proof). It has a velvety textured, medium-weight body and a generous nose of fruit, dark chocolate, cinnamon and nutmeg with smoky, peppery notes. The longer the mezcal is allowed to breathe, the more gloriously aromatic it becomes. The entry is remarkably gentle, especially considering the spirit's elevated alcohol content. On the palate, the mezcal delivers waves of flavor—chocolate, baking spices, roasted chiles and fresh fruit. Its finish is thankfully long and satisfying.
Los Siete Misterios Jove 100% Espadin Agave Mezcal is distilled entirely from the Espadin Agave, a variety of the Agave Angustifolia Haw. It is bottled unaged and at 46.5% alcohol (93 proof). The mezcal is crystal clear with a silky body and a bouquet saturated with the aromas of violets, roses, pipe tobacco, raspberries, cherries and anise. It immediately bathes the palate with a lavish array of fruit and floral flavors. The lingering finish is earthy and smooth.
Unaged Los Siete Misterios Jove 100% Barril Agave Mezcal is bottled at 49.3% alcohol (98.6 proof). The elegant spirit has a medium-weight body and a bouquet of flora, dried herbs, licorice and cinnamon with hints of thyme and black pepper. Its long-lasting palate fills the mouth with the flavors of nutmeg, pears, apples, mint and mesquite smoke. The finish is long and thoroughly delicious.
The final offering—Los Siete Misterios Jove 100% Coyote Agave Mezcal—is a supremely delectable spirit bottled at 48.5% alcohol (97 proof). It features a moderate bouquet with floral, fruit and smoky notes and a lingering palate of chocolate, fruit and fire-roasted peppers.
"Our company was born in Mexico in 2010 with only one thing in mind: to rescue the mezcal-making traditions, as well as to promote local commerce and stimulate the culture of small mezcal producers, all of this with a contemporary approach," says Eduardo Mestre, co-founder of Los Siete Misterios. "Thus we were able to relive the past and match it with the present time, combining the best of both worlds. We remain respectful of one of the most pure essences: the mezcal, a genuine Mexican heritage."