The Tahona Mill - Respecting The Process
by Greg Rutkowski
What Is A Tahona?
The tahona is a mezcal term referring to a stone mill.
Stone milling is a traditional part of the mezcal and tequila production process and it is used to crush the agave piñas before fermentation.
In order to crush the agave hearts, a one ton stone wheel is slowly pulled by a donkey or a horse to breakdown the agave.
Sometimes a tractor is also used to pull the stone wheel.
How Does The Tahona Mill Work?
The mezcalero or another worker will walk behind the beast of burden flipping the crushed agave with a pitch fork to be broken down further until it is ready for fermentation.
A tahona mill is required in the artisanal mezcal production process second to milling by hand or mallet being the most labor intensive.
The stone mill is located usually in a shaded location within a mezcal palenque.
Photo by Distiller
How Is The Tahona Classified In Mezcal Production?
The iconic tahona was used during original tequila production, but now only a few tequila producers uses this method of milling opting for more mechanical methods.
The tahona is one of the most labor intensive aspects of the mezcal production process and is often substituted by a machine shredder especially when producing raicllia.
Depending on what your mezcal tasting preferences are it is best to read the sides of the bottle so you know how the agave was milled to produce your mezcal.
Photo by Corte Vetusto
Does Milling With The Tahona Impact The Flavor?
Mezcaleros who use mechanical methods will tell you that the way it is milled has the least impact on the flavor.
However mezcal purists will tell you that the tahona has a lot to do with the flavor because the agave fibers are more exposed to the microclimate within the open air palenque.
If you are interested in learning more about meczal, please click here.
Greg Rutkowski, President
Greg is a lover of agave spirits, handicrafts, and barware. In 2020 he married all of his loves and created a business bringing amazing pieces from all over Mexico to the United States. Learn more here.