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Cruz de Fuego
Cruz de Fuego Mezcal is made in Santiago Matatlan, Oaxaca by the mother and son team of Margarita Blas and Carlos Mendez Blas. Cruz de Fuego is produced in the original family palenque in a fully traditional manner.
“Like many of their peers, Margarita and Carlos roast their agave in stone-lined, earthen ovens. The oven is heated with wood fire for 12 hours before the agave are piled in and covered up with dirt, left to roast underground for five days.
The roasted agave hearts are then milled, to release the caramelized sugars. This is done by a tahona — a stone wheel, pulled by a horse. This method of milling is much less efficient than a wood chipper. But Margarita and Carlos are not looking for efficiency — they are looking for flavor. And leaving some of the harder-to-reach sugars behind means leaving behind some of the less complex flavors.
The juice and fibers from the milled agave are then collected and placed in open-air, wooden barrels, where water is added.
Margarita and Carlos — and their peers making artisanal and ancestral mezcals — ferment using wild yeasts in an open-air environment so that each batch tastes unique. During one season, the avocado trees on their property will be budding, and the predominant yeast will come from there; during another season, it may be the yeast from the oranges that dominates.
And that bacteria that wants to turn the entire batch into vinegar? It gets its foot in the door, adding flavor, too. A little bit of sour helps balance the sweetness of the agave. Once fermentation is where Margarita and Carlos want it to be, they quickly to get the liquid distilled. The fermented juice that isn’t being worked in the still is sitting in that open-air fermenter … changing every minute. The fermenters hold 2,000 liters and the still only holds 350 liters, so there’s no room for delay, and no sleep until everything has been run through the still once — that often means maestros are awake for 24 to 48 hours straight, distilling.”