Largo/ Tobala Ancestral, Real Minero
From the Ángeles Carreño family in Santa Catarina Minas comes the brand Real Minero, helmed by sibling fifth-generation mezcal producers Graciela and Edgar Ángeles Carreño.
Graciela is considered one of the thought-leaders in the field, conducting extensive scientific and historic research into agave and mezcal. She employs several botanists who work with the brand to maintain a nursery and laboratory dedicated to protecting, preserving, and studying the plants, vigorously champions social justice and economic and labor issues within the mezcal industry, and funnels a portion of proceeds into creating the first library in the rural mining community of Santa Catarina Minas.
Yet, Real Minero is as deeply rustic and culturally historic as mezcal production can get. Roughly translated as “royal miner”, the brand is exemplary of the minero style of mezcal which can only be certified from Santa Catarina Minas, specifically. Minero implies a production method otherwise referred to as en barro or en olla; distillation occurs in handmade, clay pots using a carved, wooden spoon suspended on string to collect condensed distillate. Much of their agave is broken down after cooking by hand-mashing with massive, wooden bats—like a mortar and pestle of overwhelming size. These countryside methods have not changed in hundreds of years.
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From the iconic Ángeles family palenque in Santa Catarina Minas, this ensamble marries two rare varieties of agave: Largo (Agave karwinskii) and Tobalá (Agave potatorum), in a batch made in the “ancestral” method. This means no mechanical devices were employed in its production: these precious agave were cooked in the family’s earthen oven, then painstakingly milled by hand, fermented, and finally distilled using pot stills made from local clay. As the family begins to bless us with more batches of ancestral spirits—some of the most labor-intensive spirits in the world—this blend in particular is a treat to be coveted.