Why change a winning horse? (Or in this case, a donkey.)
If you're looking for artisanal, small batch Mezcal with a looong tradition, you should definitely go to San Juan del Rio in the Oaxaca region, Mexico. Only now you don't have to as Uncle Flaviar is bringing you Pluma Negra, cultivated and distilled by the Hernández family who has been doing it for 45 years. A third generation Maestro Mezcalero Hernández swears by time honored traditions – you won't find any fancy new gadgets here and nobody is in a hurry.
The Pluma Negra ("black feather") Espadín Mezcal Black Label is made from 100% Espadín agave that takes from 7 to 10 years to mature and grows in Oaxaca at around 3,800ft. Then, after it's cut with machetes, it's the donkeys that do the heavy lifting and transport it to an underground earthen oven. Donkeys also pull the tahona stone that grinds the maguey and bam, it's ready to ferment for 8 to 15 days in pine barrels. Twice distilled in copper pots and bottled at 96 proof, the Mezcal masters at Pluma Negra say this one should be sipped neat and to really do right by it, have it with some lightly smoked fish.