Del Maguey is a brand of mezcal that encompasses seven labels of single village mezcal. Founded in 1995 by Ron Cooper, Del Maguey was one of the first brands to show the true potential of mezcal, which until that point in time had been relegated to second class status behind tequila.
All the Del Maguey mezcals are produced in a traditional fashion by small, local farmers, and cooked in underground pits, then ground on stone crushing wheels by horses. All the Del Maguey mezcals are certified organic, and the company also hires indigenous women to weave individual bottle covers for the mezcal.
Today, the Del Maguey lineup includes:
Crema de Mezcal, which is 90 percent San Luis del Rio mezcal and 10% Miel de Maguey -- the honeylike juices of roasted agave piñas. Crema de Mezcal is bottled at just over 80 proof.
Vida, an entry level bottling. Vida is meant to be more accessible and less expensive than their other mezcals. Vida is not colored or flavored, and is certified organic. It is bottled at 84 proof.
Chichicapa is distilled in the 7,000 feet above sea level village of Chichicapa, about two hours south and two hours west of Oaxaca, by Faustino Garcia Vasquez.
Chichicapa is one of the delicate Del Maguey mezcals, with a pale floral nose that transitions into a tropical-fruit flavored, fairly rich midpalate and spicy, slightly drying finish. Chichicapa is bottled at around 95 proof, though this varies from lot to lot.
San Luis del Rio is a village at about 8,000 feet south of Oaxaca in a narrow, hot valley. San Luis del Rio is made by Paciano Cruz Nolasco, and has spicy, fruity, smoky aromas and flavors.
Minero is made in the village of Santa Catarina Minas by Florencio Carlos Sarmiento and his sons Florencio Carlos Vasquez and Luis Carlos Vasquez. Minero is made on a still made from clay, with bamboo tubing.
Minero is clear, with a strong, almost acetic aroma at first. The palate is oily and intensely fruit-sweet, with a powerful, lingering smoky quality on the finish. Minero is bottled at 98 proof, though this may change from bottling to bottling.
Santo Domingo Albarradas is made in the Mixe (pronounced Me-hay) region south of Oaxaca by Espiridon Morales Luis and his son Juan. The Mixe is a high altitude tropical region that closely resembles Hawaii. It has delicate aromas of roasted pears, tropical fruit and citrus.
Tobala (Agave potatorum) is a rare, wild harvested single varietal mezcal. The piñas are much smaller than commercially cultivated agave -- it takes eight Tobala piñas to provide the equivalent nectar of one standard agave. Tobala is made in tiny quantities (usually, around 450 liters a year).
Pechuga is the rarest and most expensive of the Del Maguey line. The base spirit is Minero, but after its second distillation, wild apples and plums, plantains, pineapples, almonds and rice are added to about 75 liters the mezcal, and a whole, skinless raw chicken is hung in the vapor stream. This third distillation happens over a 24 hour period. Typically, around 250 liters of Pechuga are made in any given year.