A Cutting-Edge Mezcal with Traditional Roots

A Cutting-Edge Mezcal with Traditional Roots

Few spirits categories are as rooted in tradition and a sense of place as the Mexican agave-spirit, mezcal. For Montelobos, the desire to combine Oaxacan tradition with cutting-edge experimentation has resulted in an array of innovative spirits and techniques—none more so, however, than its pechuga mezcal, which is made with organically cultivated agave and is certified kosher.

Mezcal de pechuga (pechuga meaning “breast” in Spanish) is a variety of mezcal often made in small palenques (distilleries) across the state of Oaxaca. The spirit has a reputation for a uniquely complex and intense flavor—for good reason. The process of making pechuga involves suspending raw animal meat, traditionally chicken breast, in the still during the final distillation. When done with an expert hand, this process creates an incredibly complex and sometimes savory result.

So when Montelobos, founded in 2011 and based in Santiago Matatlán, Oaxaca, set out to create its own artisanal version of a joven (unaged) pechuga, its goal was to respect this storied spirit’s tradition, but with an experimental twist that sets it apart from its contemporaries—and that’s exactly what it did.

First, Montelobos begins the process of making the pechuga using piñas (agave hearts) from organically cultivated Espadín agave. Once harvested, they are then roasted in an underground fire pit before being ground with a single-stone tahona wheel pulled by a mule. The agave sugars are collected and fermented by wild yeasts in open-air pine vats—all traditional, artisanal techniques that have been used by mezcaleros for more than 500 years.

After going through two distillations in a copper still, the spirit then goes through its third and final round of distillation with a kosher turkey breast hung in the still, along with an array of seasonal, local fruits and spices.

The resulting spirit has a nuanced flavor that includes distinctive notes of tropical fruits, roasted almonds and maple honey. While its rich flavor makes it perfect for celebrating special occasions, this mezcal can be enjoyed anytime, anywhere and is best served neat or on the rocks for an authentic mezcal drinking experience. It’s a testament to how age-old techniques and ingredients indicative of time and place can seamlessly meld the traditional with the experimental.

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