Since 1898, the mining village of Santa Caterina Minas has been distilling some of the most rustic, traditional and exquisitely expressive mezcales in all of Mexico. Today, the Ángeles Carreño family carries on that tradition with pride and integrity. Fourth and Fifth generation Mezcal-producers, Edgar Ángeles Carreño works the distillery, while mother Doña Florentina handles the bottling and sister Graciela handles everything from marketing to development and research. Sadly, the patriarch of the family, Don Lorenzo, passed away in 2016, but the family carries the torch, continuing their century-old tradition of producing the finest quality mezcal. Lalo Angeles of Lalocura is Edgar and Graciela’s brother.
The Ángeles family are icons in the industry and have devoted their lives to producing and researching this hand-crafted, traditional spirit. Graciela in particular is considered one of the thought-leaders in the field, conducting extensive scientific and historic research into agave and mezcal. She employs several botanists who work with the brand to maintain a nursery and laboratory dedicated to protecting, preserving, and studying the plants, vigorously champions social justice and economic and labor issues within the mezcal industry, and funnels a portion of proceeds into creating the first library in the rural mining community of Santa Catarina Minas. Roughly translated as “royal miner”, the brand is exemplary of the minero style of mezcal which can only be certified from Santa Catarina Minas, specifically. Minero implies a production method otherwise referred to as en barro or en olla; distillation occurs in handmade earthenware pots using a carved, wooden spoon suspended on string to collect condensed distillate.
Much of their agave is broken down after cooking by hand-mashing with massive, wooden bats—like a mortar and pestle of overwhelming size. These countryside methods have not changed in hundreds of years – a tremendously laborious technique, which yields an impressive, idiosyncratic spirit. Mineral-driven, with rich texture and a uniquely aromatic nose which speaks deeply of terroir, these mezcales will linger in mind and palate with consistently epic finishes. Often there are only 100 or 200 liters of a certain batch produced, and many ensambles (blends) are unique.
Recently the family made the very difficult decision to no longer certify its mezcal which means they can no longer use the word mezcal on the bottle labels.