This mezcal is a truly small-batch spirit, which is made from organic espadin agave and distilled in the mountain village of San Juan at an elevation of 8,000 feet. Sombra is Spanish for “shadow”. San Juan is the place to head if you want to see where Sombra Mezcal is produced. Located in the Mezcal-producing region of Oaxaca along the pan-American highway, this tiny village sits in a valley packed full of Espadin agave which are harvested at approximately 6-12yrs of age. The agave start off live being grown in the gardens of villagers, who uproot them after 2yrs, binding the leaves and chopping off the roots before leaving in the shade to ‘heal’ for approximately 2 weeks. They are then transplanted in the valley and left along for another 4-10yrs. The harvested pinas are placed in a rock-lined conical pit over hot rocks. Banana leaf mats are used to cover them, then earth is laid on top. After two days baking they are removed and crushed by a horse-drawn mill. The crushed pina are then placed in wooden vats with a little water and fermentation is driven by wild yeasts. A double distillation then follows in a copper pot still.
Bold and fresh-smelling vegetal aromas rise from the glass, spiked with citrus oil and a slightly sharp smoke edge. Mildly musky, spicy and with more than a hint of plasticine, this Mezcal is full of interest for the olfactory receptors. The sharp citrus notes are prominent on the palate, as is the smoke which is bold, but not too bold. The combination makes for an interesting contrast, particularly as this is also a relatively spicy Mezcal that leaves the tongue tingling for a while on the finish. Moderately salty agave and white fruit notes add further complexity to this delicious spirit and offer up plenty of potential.