The Real de Mina Distillery is located in Santa Catarina Minas in the “third valley”, an off the beaten track area in Oaxaca which is not directly on the pan american highway. The soil is poor in this rural Mexican state, so the agave, which, much like grapes, has to struggle to attain its beauty and desirable characteristics. The distillery is run by 11th generation Master Distiller German Bonifacio “Boni” Arellanes, who aims to produce an ultra traditional Mezcal. At first the distillery, built by Boni’s father and grandfather, boasted two clay pot stills and an external roasting pit. In 2006, when Jake Lustig and his business partner Jose decided to partner with the distillery, its mezcal was sold only within the village. Jake had known the Arellanes family since 1988 when he began studying mezcal and visiting producers all over Oaxaca. The spirits of Santa Catarina Minas were always his favorite. Jake and Jose’s ownership and financial dedication to the distillery marks a huge contrast from other mezcal brands who simply contract their production. Many expressions found today are simply purchased from the locals, repackaged, and sold in boutique stores with authentic-looking labels.
Don Amado Mezcal Arroqueno starts with Arroqueno agave, though they work with other varietals. Agaves are halved and quartered (with collego removed), and then earthen-roasted for four days using a mix of mesquite and cypress wood. The cooked agaves are processed in a proprietary blade-spindle shredder, then fermented together with the bagazo in twenty 1400 liter pinewood vats using ambient yeast strains. They are first distilled in eight 60 liter burner heated ceramic pot stills and then distilled again in three 60 liter wood heated ceramic pot stills to about 53% alc/vol. Don Amado Mezcal Arroqueno is then bottled at 46% alc/vol.