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Mezcal Union

Game-Changing, People-First Mezcal

Mezcal’s bubble shows no sign of bursting and as demand increases, so does the call for an entry-level option. Authenticity and affordability have never been the easiest of bedfellows—especially so for a spirit often produced by techniques that have been unchanged for hundreds of years. Indeed, most attempts to hit a lower price point have come at the expense of both Mezcal’s ancestral roots and the equality of those who craft it. Taking a people-first approach to their treasured local drink, the young founders behind Mezcal Union set out to change all that.

The inspiration hit when and old mezcalero told Alejandro Champion “Lo Que el mezcal y México necesitan es union”, or “What mezcal and México needs is union.” That fateful meeting led to the creation of Mezcal Union in 2011, a collective of small-scale Mezcal-producing communities set across the nine different regions of Oaxaca.

The Mezcal Union’s  core aim was to offer a high-quality spirit that respected Mezcal’s ancient traditions and its artisans from day one. To date, the Union has brought together more than 50 families across 20 Palenque’s, offering them all a fair-trade business model and a path to social and economic development.

In its simplest form, Mezcal Union forms small cooperatives, through which they plant agave and then guarantee to buy it back from the family whose land it grows on. Previously starved for economic opportunity, the indigenous partners now own up to 50% of the Mezcal Union harvest—their income has become sustainable, and the Union assumes all the farming risk. Not only has the investment allowed farmers to start their own distilleries, but since the project began Mezcal Union’s members have also sown over 750,000 Espadín, Tobalá and Cirial agaves along the Sierra.

Despite the scale, the Union works directly with each Palenque to ensure the spirit is truly handcrafted. Eschewing modern technology like diffusers and autoclaves, the skill employed at each distillery ensures Mezcal’s ancestral methods yield the most favourable results. The piñas roast over wood-fired rock oven pits, the roasted agave is crushed using equine-powered circular stone tahona mills and wild fermentation occurs in traditional vertical wooden tinas. Unlike most cheap Mezcals, which are produced using a column or continuous still, distillation takes place in traditional copper alembics. Even the bottling and labelling are done by hand. To attain consistency between each batch, each Palenque uses the same blend of agaves and processes for producing its spirit.

Mezcal Union has three bottlings. The core release is aptly called Uno (meaning ‘one’). It is a blend of both farm grown Espadín agave and wild Cirial (mainly from San Baltazar Guelavila, Oaxaca), bottled under the eye of master mezcalero Pedro Hernandez. Then there’s the new, sipping-quality Silvestre from Tlacolula; and the aged El Viejo (named in honour of the old man who provided inspiration for the ‘Union’), composed of farm-grown maguey Espadín and rare, wild maguey Tobalá.

Currently Available

Mezcal Unión Uno Joven
Bibendum Bar

Mezcal Unión Uno Joven

Mezcal’s bubble shows no sign of bursting, and as demand increases, so does the call for an entry-level option. Authenticity and affordability have never been the easiest of bedfellows—especially for a spirit often produced by techniques that have been unchanged for hundreds of years. Indeed, most attempts to hit a lower price point have come at the expense of both Mezcal’s ancestral roots and fairness to those who craft it. The young founders behind Mezcal Unión set out to change that by taking a people-first approach to their treasured local drink. To date, the Unión has brought together more than 50 families across 20 palenques, offering them a fair-trade business model and a path to social and economic development. Uno starts out with soft layers of sweet citrus and panna cotta before moving toward archetypal Espadín notes of roasted tropical fruit combined with a little salinity and a hint of pepper. The level of smokiness is spot-on, confidently present without overwhelming. There’s also an edge of citrus peel and a twist of green herbs in the mix—echoes of the wild Cirial. Perfectly primed for mixing, it's a great, well-priced Mezcal to have in the drinks cabinet.

Uno starts out with soft layers of sweet citrus and panna cotta before moving toward archetypal Espadín notes of roasted tropical fruit combined with a little salinity and a hint of pepper. The level of smokiness is spot-on, confidently present without overwhelming. There’s also an edge of citrus peel and a twist of green herbs in the mix—echoes of the wild Cirial. Perfectly primed for mixing, it's a great, well-priced Mezcal to have in the drinks cabinet.

"The ripe, fruity style of this mezcal lends itself to making margarita variations and other cocktails. Look for tropical fruit flavors like lychee and banana, and a mild note of jalapeño on the finish."
92 points, Wine Enthusiast
Mezcal Unión Uno Joven
Bibendum Bar

Country

Mexico

Primary Region

Oaxaca

Availability

National

More Information

Mezcal Margarita recipe

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