Review of Montelobos Mezcal
by Greg Rutkowski
History of Montelobos Mezcal Joven
Montelobos has a commercial relationship with William Grant & Sons, a scotch whisky producer. Ivan Seldaa established Montelobos. He grew up in a family that worked in the tequila industry, but he didn't follow in their footsteps. Instead, he pursued a Ph.D. in biochemistry and physiology at the University of Sussex in the United Kingdom after studying molecular plant biology at McGill University in Montreal. His post-graduate research focused on the agave plant's capacity to survive severe weather. Years later, he chose to branch out from research and co-founded Montelobos Mezcal to pursue a more artistic path.
In Oaxaca and Puebla, Saldaa collaborated with two mezcal-producing families. Montelobos Mezcal joven is dedicated to environmental stewardship and has promised never to use wild agaves to manufacture its mezcal.
Montelobos (wolf mountain) wants to spread authentic, handmade mezcal across the world. Working with master distillers and local artisans with extensive experience, they ensure their spirits are of the highest quality. Along with a traditional crafting technique, the company employs 100 percent certified organic espadin agave.
Montelobos uses Oaxacan Highland "Espadin" Agave, significantly different from the Blue Weber agave used in tequila. Most agave is left to mature for at least ten years, under the area's careful eye of the Mountain of Wolves.
Because of the high altitude and the widespread usage of indigenous fertilizers in the Highlands, the molecules within the plant have complexity and size not found elsewhere.
At Montelobos, they heat pebbles on the bottom over a wood fire, insulate them with a layer of damp agave fiber, and then top them with chopped-up agave chunks. They cover it with a palm-leaf mat and a mound of dirt and leave it to cook for about three days. When a leaf removed from the oven is ideally browned but not burnt, the agave is ready.
On the other hand, frequent cooking of industrial mezcal and tequila happens in autoclaves—giant metal drums packed with steam and agave—which renders Saldaa practically delirious.
It is very controversial that several large corporations utilize diffusers to extract the fermentable sugars from raw agave without cooking the plant.
The roasted plants are then crushed beneath the weight of the tahona, as is customary. The tahona is a horse-drawn circular mill in which a horse or donkey runs in circles around the mill, crushes, and pulverizes the cooked agave pieces with a wheel-like stone. If you've ever seen an old-fashioned manner of producing cider, the procedure is similar, but here it's crushing agave instead of apples. The mezcaleros' task is to reposition the agave pieces to maximize extraction continually. The mezcaleros use a pitchfork to move the crushed agave fibers into open fermentation tanks, where they add spring water and start the fermentation process with wild yeast.
Machines do this procedure in an industrial setting. They put the chopped agave chunks onto a conveyor belt, which chops and mashes them before dropping them into a fermentation tank, where the introduction of a constant and stable yeast strain occurs.
The method is highly efficient; nevertheless, you lose the cultural and human part of the mezcal-making process, which is a drawback from a romantic viewpoint. In practice, industrial operations can rarely extract the maximum amount of agave, which impacts flavor.
Industrial mezcal operations threaten to deplete the agave supply with their high-speed and high-efficiency procedures.
After crushing, a combination of the stringy agave fibers with pure water and a dash of Montelobos' trademark starter from a previous batch rests in the fermentation vat for five to seven days. Pine is used to constructing these vats. Other makers employ various materials, including sabino wood, cement, leather, and plastic, but in Matatlán, there is exclusive use of pine. Industrial manufacturers, including foils, commonly use stainless steel.
Finally, Montelobos mezcal is distilled twice to achieve the most refined flavor (the standard for quality mezcals). Only the best part of the distillate—the most balanced and well-flavored fraction that evaporates out of them still during the heating process at medium temperatures—is used by the Lopezes.
They also don't let their mezcal age—another difference between tequila and many other spirits. The longer a tequila stays, the more its taste matures and the more expensive it gets, similar to bourbon and whiskey. Older varieties of mezcal, known as reposado and anejo, are widely available, although purists argue that aging masks the agaves' inherent flavor. As a result, Montelobos is sold young.
Types of Montelobos Mezcal
1. Montelobos Espadin Joven
Montelobos Joven is a handcrafted Mezcal created in Santiago Matatlán from 100% organically certified agave Espadin. Iván Saldaa collaborated with mezcalero Don Abel Lopez to create this Mezcal. Its making is associated with Saldaa's passion and vision for agave and artisanal mezcal in mind, focusing on traditional production techniques, sustainability, and the community's quality of life. It's initially baked in a volcanic stone-lined in-ground earth oven. The brewing of agave becomes more accessible using the tahona method, in which crushing of the cooked agave happens by a vast stone dragged by a mule before being fermented in pine vats and distilled twice in copper stills driven by wood fires.
- A cold extinguished match or the remains of a campfire.
- Fresh jalapeños and roasted agave vegetal deliciousness.
The first impression is of Werther's Original sweetness, accompanied by a green freshness, chili, chocolate, nut, and cinnamon. The smoke is first nonexistent but suddenly rushes up the throat and into the front of the mouth. The tastes linger, while nail varnish congeners keep this Espadin from becoming too sweet.
2. Montelobos Ensamble
Montelobos Ensamble is made up of around 53% agave Cupreata and 35% maguey Espadin (agave Angustifolia), as well as Montelobos Tobala tails. This mezcal is made from farmed agaves in Puebla. Iván Saldaa, the founder of Montelobos Mezcal, met the Alva family in Puebla, who have been farming agaves for more than 15 years.
Roasted agave, citrus, smoke, and cheesy element make Montelobos Ensamble smell good.
A bizarre thick milkiness coats the tongue with lots of vegetal, briny, and Savoury notes. White grape skin, pink pepper, and mountain herbs are present, while the caramel character appears in the background.
3. Montelobos Tobala
This mezcal is made in Puebla using cultivated maguey Tobala. Tobalá agave takes at least 15 years to mature. It is harvested and then roasted in an in-ground earth oven lined with brick. After burning for five to seven days, the Tobalá is hand-cut and put through a milling machine to break down the agave further.
The mashed agave is then transferred into pine vats to ferment for approximately ten days before distilling twice in copper stills powered by wood-fueled fires. Maguey Tobala is the best choice since the mezcal boom began, and from the very beginning, Montelobos' commitment only to apply sustainable agave, which is 100% grown without utilizing untamed maguey.
In addition, Montelobos does not utilize pesticides or herbicides when farming agaves. This mezcal has the aromas of lemon, green pepper, and pear. There are notes of basil, citrus, roasted fig, macadamia, and truffle on the palate.
Basil, lemon, mint, and green pepper make Montelobos Tobala smell good.
Quite distinct from the nose. Macadamia nut, fig, minerality, smoke, and green flavors dominate the tongue, complete with an earthy truffle and a hint of licorice. The increased ABV is coating rather than abrasive, and an undertone caramel keeps it in control.
4. Montelobos Pechuga
Agave Espadin is used to make Montelobos Pechuga. A turkey breast is suspended in the still before the third and final distillation, and mixing the distillate with local fruits and spices occurs.
Pechuga mezcal is a favorite drink during weddings, quinceaeras, and other festive occasions.
Orange peel, pepper, nutmeg, and chocolate make Montelobos Pechuga smell good.
Chocolate and a plethora of spices and herbs coat the mouth. Wood, fruitcake, squash, dried mango, mint, and eucalyptus are numerous taste highlights whose plucking is out of the rich sweetness of caramel, toffee, and maple syrup. It was a complete and total delight.
Why Choose Montelobos Mezcal
Since its beginning in 2011, Montelobos mezcal joven has its devotion to environmentally friendly farming techniques. They've formed partnerships to produce tobalá and cupreata agave types, which many people think are hard to farm, as a responsible approach to avoiding agaves' natural deforestation. Their espadin agave is organically certified and never uses pesticides or herbicides.
The original Montelobos from Oaxaca is a wonderfully balanced, exceptional mezcal that may communicate primordial tastes and smells in an amazingly flat and refined experience.
So, are you still wondering why you need to give Montelobos a try?
If you are into environmental sustainability, then you'll definitely not regret your decision. For new mezcal lovers, we recommend that you have a look at our articles about mezcal tips for beginners.
Though most mezcal types can be taken neat, you never want to miss an opportunity to indulge in the smokiest mezcal cocktails you'll ever find. Better still, we've gone further ahead and dug deep into the history of mezcal, the spirit that will effortlessly take you to cloud nine.
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