All About Mezcal Union
by Greg Rutkowski
In this article, we divulge everything you need to know regarding Mezcal Union, one of the top mezcal brands from Mexico. Apart from the history of the mezcal, we also look at the production process, types of Mezcal Union and why you need to give it a try.
Mezcal Union is one of the favorite mezcals of many bartenders, and you will always find this drink in every local corner bar and liquor store in Mexico and USA. Are you wondering why? Keep on reading and you'll get to know every nitty gritty as far as this special type of mezcal is concerned. If unity is your thing, then this mezcal, that emphasizes on the spirit of unity, is the one for you!
Let's start by looking at where it all began.
History of Mezcal Union
The Agave Variety
The bottle indicates that the mezcal is a product of both agave Cirial and agave Espadin, and this is something to note because almost every other mezcal constitutes purely agave espadín.
Agave Cirial plays a significant role in adding a vegetal character to the mezcal that smoothens the tough notes present in most mezcals. The regular Mezcal Union drinkers are also familiar with agave Barril which was present in the older batches.
The introduction of Mezcal Union was marked by a group of friends who decided to come up with a mezcal project. They were not quite sure of where to start from, and so they decided to visit Oaxacan palenques and inquire from the people on the best approaches.
One of the people, an old man, told them that the demands on the mezcal producers was changing with the rising popularity of the mezcals. He mentioned that the upcoming mezcaleros would be unable to distill, bottle, brand, market their drinks or employ sustainable efforts. All these are important in meeting the profession demands.
Creating some sort of union or co-op was necessary to improve the livelihood of the producers and to move the mezcal spirit to another level. It is from the word union that the brand got its name and they named one of their brands Union El Viejo to acknowledge the old man. Union El Viejo constitutes both agave Tobala and Espadin.
Mezcal Union vs. Mezcal Unión Uno
Union Uno is the most popular type of this mezcal, we'll talk about it later on in this article.
Initially, the co-founders were mere marketers looking for a mezcal brand and it is during their search that they came across a producer who came up with an ensemble of agave Cirial and Tobala. They named it Union Uno, being that it was their initial release.
This brand thereafter became very popular and it is up to date. At the start, the co-founders took care of the business while the mezcalero dealt with the product. However, they came to realize that there was need to increase the production to meet the demands of the consumers.
Through their mezcalero, they were able to add more palenques and produced more Uno mezcal. Adding more palenques gave birth to the Union and its co-founders saw how crucial and impactful the cooperation was. They saw that the brand would have a lot of positive impact on the community.
After establishing several palenques to make their mezcal, the co-founders realized that there was need to dedicate more of their effort in sourcing the agave. They wanted to make their practices very sustainable, and so they created a new position for someone who would deal with the farmers directly.
His duty was to partner with the farmers and help them plant the agaves, having in mind the evaluated future demands. The partnerships would help the farmers to improve their ability to meet the demands sustainably while maintaining independent operations within the Union.
The cooperation between Diageo and Union enables mezcal unión to stay in the hands of the founders. It allows them to choose and pick the importers and distributors of their choice to deal with, all over the world. As a result, it enables them to introduce new places and new individuals to their mezcal. It also contributes to the growth of the mezcaleros and the agave farmers.
Production Process of Mezcal Unión
Harvesting / Jima
Jima is the process of removing the pencas or leaves from every mature plants. Their removal exposes the piña or hearts of the agave plants which the harvesters extract for further processing.
The production team roasts the piñas in wood-fired conical stone oven pits for around 4 to 5 days. The span allows for the wood, earth and smoke to impart the flavor and character to the piñas. The team uses a bagasse bed to cover the stones so that the piñas do not burn.
The cooked agave then proceeds to the horse-pulled tahona mills for crushing to drain the agave juices. After crushing, the team transfers the fibrous tissues and agave juices into wooden barrels with water.
The juices (mosto) stay in the barrels for several days to allow time for fermentation before they proceed for distillation in the steel vats.
In the distillation stage the team places the fermented juices into distill devices known as alambigue. The alambique lies on top of a firewood-heated oven. As the temperature rises, the alcohol evaporates as it travels through a submerged coil in a tube full of fresh water. This system allows the alcohol to condense and also helps the team to obtain the tips. The process repeats itself as the team obtains the body of the mezcal.
Thereafter, the team bottles the resulting mezcal, labels the bottles carefully by hand and packs them for distribution.
The Solera production process
Mezcal Union is also trying to implement a Solera production process, a concept which they are borrowing from other producers of beverages such as brandy beer and wine.
For this type of process, the production team blends new batches fractionally into one mother batch. This way, the resulting product in the mother batch is a combination of ages. The average age increases gradually as time passes and the process also continues.
Currently, every batch at Union consists of about 1,000 liters of the mezcal and the mother batch contains approximately 10,000 liters. By blending the liters from the batches into the mother batch and bottling them, the brand is ensuring consistent production. It is also the reason behind the continuous growth of the brand.
Types of Mezcal Union
Mezcal Union Uno
Through the expert blending by the Maestros Mezcaleros and the union of the producer families, Union came up with this fantastic brand. Mezcal Union Uno is a blend of Cirial and Espadin stone-crushed agave. These two farm-raised wild agaves are responsible for the vegetal flavor of the mezcal. The mezcal ages for around 7 to 14 years and this is also another reason behind its rich flavor and soft fruity notes. Cirial agave in particular has a great impact on its character.
Under Pedro Hernandez, the Master Mezcalero’s leadership, the producer families came up with different batches of Mezcal Union Uno. The harvesting and distillation of the mezcal take place sustainably and the brand ensures fair trading so that the producer families develop both socially and economically.
- Nose- Fresh notes of green apple, pear and apple with a smoky touch.
- Palate- sweetness, Wood smoke and light green fruit.
- Finish- The smooth finish features earthy herbal notes (mint and peppermint) probably from agave Espadin
- Smell- It initially reveals the smell of oak firewood used in its artisanal production process. Thereafter follows fruity and sweet notes of the agave and finally the citrus, earthy and herbal notes of cirial agave.
Mezcal Unión Silvestre
The perfect balance of Mezcal Union Silvestre is as a result of the harvested ripe agaves, utmost care by the production team in every production process, correct assembly and the methodology of selecting the ideal liquids.
Union Silvestre is one of the ideal options that you and your family or friends can enjoy in the afternoon accompanied with talks and comfort. It empowers the drinker to feel free and relieved at all times, creates fun moments, great memories and strengthens your relationship with your friends and family.
Likewise, the goal of most mezcals is always to unite the artisans, producers, mezcal farmers and communal farmers.
When looking for a mezcal that helps you to forget prejudices and embrace your differences, Silvestre is the right choice.
- Notes- wild flowers and herbs, banana, Mexican hawthorn and cooked agave.
- Aroma- Ocote, sweet, pink pepper, mud and resin that complements the mezcal with hints of cooked agave and fruit.
- Flavor- It is gentle and sweet on its palate with a smoky flavor accompanied by pink pepper, hot and cocoa notes in the aftertaste.
Mezcal Unión El Viejo
Mezcal Unión El Viejo is silver-hued and it is also one of Union production under Master Mezcalero Pedro Hernandez’s guide.
Under the brand’s label, different producer families take part in individual and handcrafting the batches of Mezcal Union. El Viejo, who was the old man, is the ‘elder’ of Mezcal Union El Viejo which is a product of two agaves, espadin and tobala, also called King Agave.
Tobala agave is very rare and it exists only in high altitude areas. It takes around 14 years to mature. It is small in size and it takes about 8 of the agave hearts to equal the traditional farm-raised agave size. Tobala agave is responsible for the discernible and smooth sweetness of the resulting mezcal.
During 2016 and 2017, the mezcal won gold medals at the competition in San Francisco for the World Spirits.
- Notes- Herbs (pine and mint), butter, dry, new woods, stone, astringent, floral and sweet notes.
- Aromas- The first sip of the mezcal brings out the 100% artisanal production with mesquite and oak firewood. Thereafter, you can feel the notes of caramelized agave followed by the herbal and floral tones of agave Tobala. These tones extinguish the potential of alcohol and leaves a sweet and long aftertaste of agave Espadin
Why Choose Mezcal Union
Union Mezcal is a 100% artisanal drink and it is coop built to unite the family producers and the indigenous farmers from several communities in Oaxaca. The main goal of Mezcal Union’s founders is to create fair ways for people to share the spiritual mezcal in collaboration while they preserve the traditional and artisanal distilling craft.
They also aim at empowering the locals to grow both socially and economically. The connection of the agave farmers and the maestros mezcaleros by Mezcal Union assures the mezcal is crafted with utmost care, and with the aim of preserving relationships and preserving the process for generations to come.
Frequently Asked Questions About Mezcal Union
What are Mezcal Union’s tasting notes?
Mezcal Union has impressive flavors with herbal, citrus, earth, fruit and wood connotations. It is slightly smoky and with a balance of the aromas and the flavors of the agave.
What are the agaves used to produce Mezcal Union?
The production of Mezcal Union involves agave Espadin, Cirial and Tobala. Agave Cirial is responsible for the vegetal character of the mezcal, Espadin is responsible for the sweet taste while Tobala is responsible for the floral and herbal tones.
How is Mezcal Union produced?
The production of Mezcal Union begins by the harvesting of the piñas, roasting and grinding. The resulting juice from the grinding proceed for fermentation for several days after which they are distilled and bottled for sale.