The cooperative known as Sanzekan Tinemi (Onward Together) was formed in 1990 in the Montaña Baja region of Guerrero’s southern mountain range. Its genesis goes back even further, however, to the difficult years of the 1980s when founding members drew inspiration from their exposure to rural campesino (farmer) organizations—non-profit groups developed with support from the federal government to address supply and infrastructure issues across rural Mexico. Founded by peoples of the Chilapa de Álvarez, Zitlala, Ahuacoutzintla, and Tixtla municipalities, the group is a true cooperative: every member shares an equal vote in the group’s affairs and earns a fair wage based on the collective sales of its spirits. Honoring the co-op members, each batch of Sanzekan will detail the name of the maestro mezcalero (and a printing of their signature) on the label, as well as the harvest date and location of distillation.
The group works exclusively with Guerrero’s endemic species, Agave cupreata. Known here as Papalote, it grows between 1400 and 2000 meters above sea level, with wide, spade-shaped leaves and pronounced spines that are visually reminiscent of a larger Agave potatorum (aka Tobalá). The species requires between 7 and 18 years to mature and propagates only from seed. Thus, Sanzekan leads aggressive reforestation efforts, planting around 1.5 million seeds per year, in addition to operating water treatment programs at each distillation site and a fertilizer program that repurposes the spent agave fibers (bagazo) leftover after distillation.
The resulting spirits are as thoughtful as the concepts behind them and as the collective itself. Ranging from light and sweetly vegetal to dense with dark fruit and fresh soil, Sanzekan is among mezcal’s most iconic and historic brands; we are thrilled to announce their availability in the US at last!
*Photo credit: Annika Boerm