Each time we go we learn a bit more about the process, and it's fun to share the experience with our fellow campers. We blogged about it last year when we visited so I didn't take as many pictures since information and pictures can be found at this link.
During our visit this year we learned more and of course we purchased more mezcal. Last year we were told by Don Jesus, the patron of the operation, that he can tell if the mezcal is just right by looking at the bubbles. This year he demonstrated how that's done. Long evergreen needles found in the area are bent in a loop, similar to a whisk. A portion of the freshly distilled mezcal is poured into a small bowl that looks like a coconut shell and is whisked briskly. If there are no bubbles, the mezcal is ready. If there are many bubbles or small bubbles adjustments are made. As near as we could tell it mostly has to do with the temperature of the fermented mash being cooked.
The mash is cooked for about 12 hours and then another batch is started. All of this is constantly tended 24 hours a day, taking about two weeks from start to finish. Approximately 500 liters of mezcal are produced each time, beginning with cooking the pinas in a deep, rock-lined pit....
Some of the above information is a bit different than our previous post in January 2012 as we have learned more and clarified a few things. There may be even more changes next time we visit.
There are some fellow RVers here at Hacienda Contreras that went to the still with us and have their own stories to tell about our visit. Unlike me, they blog on a regular basis and have some very impressive blogs with more to share about their travels in Mexico and other parts of the world.
Check them out at:
And some more links from Brian with info about mezcal and tequila-
Another beverage similar to mezcal and tequila is sotol, which is produced only in the state of Chihuahua from a wild plant
One of the websites with a simple basic explanation of mezcal was added to the following website by a guy who has a mezcal distillery in Oaxaca. He's an American who also has an RV park for small RVs, but you must make a reservation and stay a long time.