It's something that most of us don't really think about when it comes to mezcal because we are so focused on the magic being made in the still, but with every liter of mezcal produced there are about ten liters of liquid waste produced. That's called the vinaza. In small production runs, it is seemingly manageable to dispose of. You can pour it in the river or the field and it will break down in weeks. If you add chemicals that process can be shortened to days. But as soon as you multiply production runs, suddenly it is a whole different proposition.
[caption id="attachment_6597" align="alignleft" width="240"] The Gracias a Dios lineup[/caption] I have to hand it to the guys at Gracias a Dios (GAD) or www.thankgad.com - that is one clever URL for the brand. I had a chance to visit their palenque - a two birds with one stone event so I could see my friend Norma and visit the palenque. She lives in Teotitlan and puts on some pretty incredible textile and culture tours. We set up a time to meet at the GAD palenque and get a special tour and tasting with Maestro Mezcalero Oscar Hernandez Santiago. Of course I got lost because my GPS disconnected and the directions sent us off in the complete opposite direction in Matatlan. Note to travelers - google maps is great and amazing, except of course when you have no phone reception which crazily enough, I didn't in Matatlan. The palenque is on the edge of town as you head south on 190. It is a beautiful piece of property and will eventually be a centerpiece of the new style of mezcal travels in Oaxaca - a bread and breakfast on palenque property. It is now available to book through Airbnb.
[caption id="attachment_6424" align="aligncenter" width="720"] The Tres Mezquites Palenque[/caption] Over my years of visiting Oaxaca, Asis Cortes and I have never managed to be here at the same time. This trip is no different, but luckily, I was finally able to get out and visit a few of the palenques they work with. Special thanks to Puro Burro and Zack Safron who used to be a San Francisco based bartender. He has since made the leap to Oaxaca which is quite a trend with bartenders. Zach occupies a fascinating spot in the mezcal world: He works closely with Puro Burro which leads trips to Oaxaca geared toward the hospitality industry, and is a bartender at Mezcalogia, Asis' Oaxaca mezcaleria. Zach acts as a kind of connector for the Casa de Cortes "empire" with Mezcalogia and the world outside of Oaxaca. His love and enthusiasm for mezcal, and Oaxaca, cannot be overstated.
First of all, it’s great to be back in Oaxaca. There is the hot sun, warm evenings that lend themselves to long conversations into the middle of the night, over mezcal of course. The smell of fresh, hot tortillas, the