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Baja California Sur | Riviera Maya

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  • Writer's pictureTerri Lynn Manna

Savouring Mexican Artisanal Spirits in BCS: Mezcal, Damiana, Pulque, and Tequila

Mexico, a land rich in culture, history, and tradition, has bestowed upon the world some of the most exceptional artisanal spirits.

mezcal and liquor bottles on colourful mexican tablecloth
Photo by Julie Sd on Unsplash
Beyond the ubiquitous tequila, there lies a world of lesser-known but equally captivating Mexican libations such as mezcal, damiana, and pulque. In this blog post, we'll take you on a journey through the heartland of Mexico to explore these hidden gems of the spirits world. Finally, we'll let you in on the best-kept secret for an intimate and entertaining tasting and pairing experience, right here in La Paz and Los Cabos.

1. Mezcal: The Mystical Elixir

Mezcal, often referred to as the "soul of Mexico," is a mystical spirit with ancient origins dating back to the Aztecs and Mayans. It is distilled from the heart of an agave plant, known as the "piña," and produced using traditional, labour-intensive methods passed down through generations.

Mezcal is often a small batch production by traditional mezcaleros, who handcraft the spirit. The agave piñas are roasted in underground pits filled with hot rocks and wood, lending mezcal its characteristic smoky flavor. With each sip, one can taste the terroir of the region where it was crafted, making mezcal an authentic representation of Mexican culture and tradition.

Unlike tequila, which is made only from blue agave, mezcal can be crafted from any number of plant species, resulting in a wide spectrum of styles each with its own flavours and aromas. Pechuga mezcal, a rare and highly revered variant, is distilled with a turkey or chicken breast suspended in the still during the final distillation, infusing it with a rich, savoury essence. This style is often reserved for special occasions and is appreciated for its complexity.

On the other hand, Espadín mezcal, the most common and approachable variety, is crafted from the Angustifolia agave plant, resulting in a more straightforward, smoky flavor profile that's perfect for both sipping and mixing in cocktails.

man using a  pitchfork roasting agave hearts over smoke
Photo by Analuisa Gamboa on Unsplash

There are many more types of mezcal out there, but just these two contrasting styles showcase the versatility and artistry of the spirit’s production, offering something for every palate and occasion.

2. Damiana Liqueur: Love Potion from Baja California

If you're looking for a spirit that's as alluring as it is enchanting, Damiana liqueur is the answer. Native to the Baja California region of Mexico, the damiana herb has been used for centuries for its reputed aphrodisiac qualities. Crafted by macerating the leaves and stems of the damiana plant, this herbal liqueur captures the essence of romance and passion.

Damiana liqueur is a sweet and herbal concoction with subtle notes of citrus and earthy undertones. It can be enjoyed neat or in cocktails, and its unique flavor profile makes it a delightful addition to your collection of artisanal spirits.

hand holding a cocktail on colourful plate
Photo by Analuisa Gamboa on Unsplash

3. Pulque: The Ancient Aztec Brew

Pulque is a traditional Mexican alcoholic beverage with roots dating back to the Aztec civilization. It's crafted by fermenting the sap of the agave plant, resulting in a slightly viscous, milky liquid. Pulque has a rich cultural significance and is often associated with rituals and celebrations.

Unlike distilled spirits like mezcal and tequila, pulque has a lower alcohol content and a distinctive sour-sweet taste. It's typically enjoyed in rustic pulquerías (pulque bars), where locals gather to savor this ancient brew.

In recent years, there has been a resurgence of interest in pulque. One of the significant departures from the traditional recipe is the infusion of various flavors and ingredients. Modern pulquerías have begun experimenting with adding fruits, spices, herbs, and even unconventional ingredients like chocolate, coffee, and hibiscus to the base pulque.

This introduction of flavored pulques has helped broaden the appeal of the traditional beverage beyond its historical and cultural significance. Pulquerías have become trendy destinations, attracting both locals and tourists eager to sample the latest flavor innovations.

4. Tequila: Mexico's Most Iconic Spirit

No discussion of Mexican artisanal spirits would be complete without mentioning tequila. Tequila is perhaps the most famous Mexican spirit globally, and it boasts a rich heritage.

True tequila can only be produced in specific regions of Mexico, primarily around the town of Tequila in Jalisco. It's made from the blue agave plant and comes in various types, including Blanco (unaged), Reposado (aged 2-12 months), and Añejo (aged for over a year). Each type of tequila offers its own unique flavor profile, from the peppery and earthy notes of Blanco to the smooth, caramel undertones of Añejo.

agave plants in a field with mountains
Photo by Dylan Freedom on Unsplash

In recent years, the premium and ultra-premium tequila categories have gained prominence, challenging conventional notions of what tequila can be. These high-end tequilas offer exceptional depth, complexity, and character, making them a favorite among spirits enthusiasts and connoisseurs.

Exploring the world of Mexican artisanal spirits, such as mezcal, damiana, pulque, and tequila, is like embarking on a journey through Mexico's rich history and culture. Each spirit tells a unique story, reflects the land from which it originates, and carries centuries of tradition in every sip.

Enjoy a Tasting During your Stay

Retelling the stories of Mexican libations, The Mexican Spirits Club is a local Baja California Sur business spearheaded by two lovers and connoisseurs of Mexico's distillates of origin. Having studied and been certified in the tasting, production, and cultural significance of each product, Johnny and Eduardo invite guests to join them on either a beautiful rooftop overlooking the bay of La Paz or in their new tasting room in Cabo San Lucas, where they share their passion for 6 different Mexican alcohols. You will enjoy a pairing of each spirit with a selection of delicious bites: shrimp, steak, salad, mushroom, and a decadent mole.

This is a one-of-a-kind and carefully curated experience that you would regret missing out on!

women at mexican spirits tasting on rooftop at sunset
Guests in La Paz enjoy an unforgettable evening tasting and pairing Mexican spirits at sunset

By: The Trip&homes Team

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