how mezcal can be labeled

By regulation, products labeled mezcal can come only from Oaxaca and 8 other nearby Mexican states. It also has to be 100% agave, and that’s about it: a lot of it is not fit to drink because some pretty horrible production methods (used by big producers) are legal. However, to be called mezcal artesanal, the agaves must be roasted in a pit oven or an above ground oven, cannot be milled in the industrial manner, cannot be fermented in stainless steel tanks, and must be distilled in a direct-fire pot still. Most mezcal artesanal is pretty good, and some of it is great. Mezcal ancestral must be roasted only in pit ovens, crushed with a stone mill or by mallets, fermented with fibres included, and distilled in clay potstills with fibers included. Almost all mezcal ancestral is made with loving attention by accomplished distillers who are capable of producing spirits as good as spirits get.

Don Amado at work.

A batch from a clay pot is a few dozen bottles. From harvest, it takes about a month.

A man who knew what he’s talking about.