Last Thursday was pretty depressing. Not because of Oaxaca safety concerns or traffic or the zocalo encamped by teachers. I got around Oaxaca easily by foot last week.
I was depressed because when I got to La Mezcalillera, the purveyor of artesanal mezcal on Calle Murguia in the historic center of Oaxaca in the early afternoon, they were out of my favorite Gracias a Dios Gin Mezcal. I wanted to buy a few bottles to bring back to the U.S. with me to give as gifts. Of course, once the bottles were open, I could have a nip or two.
Despite the attempts of the barkeep to help me find something else that would equal, and after numerous tastings (sips, please), I just couldn’t bring myself to buy anything else and walked out empty handed.
My head hung for the rest of the afternoon as I tried to divert my mood, concentrating on the shopping list: a 5-year old aged añejo mezcal for my sister (her favorite), special order Oaxaca blouses for friends, Oaxaca chocolate, and a much needed haircut.
When I woke up on Friday morning, still feeling let down, I decided it was time to research where Gracias a Dios is distilled. After a 30-minute Internet search I came up with a location, website and contact form.
I got a reply back from Emmy Hernandez within minutes via email and then a phone call. It was about 11:30 a.m. She was willing to drive three bottles to the city from Santiago Matatlan at the tail end of the Tlacolula Valley and world capital of mezcal.
I said, No, I’ll go there! I wanted to see the palenque and find a regular, reliable source for what I have come to consider an amazing spirit. I want to go where it’s made, I mumbled to no one in particular as I was standing on the cobblestone street in the historic center. I arrived an hour later.
Emmy Hernandez is the daughter of master mezcalero (distiller) Oscar Hernandez Santiago. He is the person who creates the distillation process to ensure he gets the best flavor from each of the varietals during roasting, pressing and aging. He’s the mezcal equivalent to a winemaker.
The family lives where they work: On the far side of Matatlan as the Federal Highway 190 disappears from view over the rise on the way to the Isthmus of Tehuantepec.
Distilled in copper, aged in oak, 45% alcohol by volume, 90 proof, ground by horse-driven stone, organic.
Contact Gracias a Dios
- telephone: 01 442 256 3105
- map coordinates https://maps.google.com/?q=16.860502,-96.376915
- email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/GraciasADiosMezcal/
The palenque is more than where Gin Mezcal is made. It is an event destination and there’s going to be a big mezcal, food and music festival there in mid-July. If you are around, don’t miss it.
Ok, so there’s a commercial edge to what’s going on here. It’s not like going to the rural agave farms in San Dionisio or San Baltazar Chichicapam or Santa Catarina Minas. That’s okay, because they sure do make an excellent Gin Mezcal (organic, triple distillation, flavored with 32 herbs including juniper berries, rosemary, orange peel and cinnamon, 45% alcohol by volume). And, they have distribution in the USA and Europe.
Salud. I now have three bottles to pack and take!