There are 10 steps required to make artisanal mezcal:
Selection of wild Agaves: Remove the “pencas” or leaves. Transport the “piñas” or heads to the Palenque (Agave distillate factory).
Volcanic rocks are heated, with Encino firewood, in an underground pit at the Palenque.
The heated rocks are covered with Agave chaff. The “piñas” are placed on top. A bedroll is used to protect the pit then soil is added on top.
A hole is made at the center of the pit, prior to covering it fully. A bucket with water is placed in it to allow the rocks to produce hot vapor.
After 3 or 4 days, the pit is uncovered. The Agave or “Maguey” has a honey color and gets crushed. The leftover is added to a “tina” or tub filled with water for fermentation.
The warm climate favors a quick fermentation process, which can last from 7 to 10 days. When the “Tepache” or solution (15 alcohol proof) is ready, it is emptied in heated oven cooking pots.
When the Tepache is boiling, the vapor is condensed when touching a running water casserole. It falls on a thin guide as Agave distillate.
Three types of alcohols are obtained in this process. The first one, about 25%, is called “Puntas” or tips, is between 70 or 80 alcohol proof. The second one, about 60%, is called “Cuerpo” or body, is about 35 alcohol proof. Lastly, the third one is the “Cola” or tail. It has a very low alcohol content.
All is boiled on a second distillation process. During this process, all parts are again separated. This is the Agave distillate used for consumption.
The Artisanal 100% Agave distillate is tested, or traditionally stated “Venencia,” to verify its ethylic grade. A “carrizo” or tall reed and a “jicara” or small faience container is used.