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!
Gracias a Dios! Have You Heard of Gin Mezcal?
We hadn’t heard of gin mezcal until the other night at Oaxaca’s Origen restaurant. Our very competent waiter suggested we taste it which was on the menu as a mixed drink. What was it like unadulterated? How could mezcal be gin? Hollie asked.
Gin Mezcal with 32 different herbs including lavender
Gracias a Dios is the mezcal brand. That means Thank God. They produce several different varieties. This one, our waiter told us, has 32 different herbs including a very aromatic lavender. I guess it’s the aroma that gives the name GIN instead of the juniper berries. It was so good, we each ordered a little sipping cup and drank it along with our dinner instead of wine.
Gracias a Dios bottles aged espadin, plus the wild mezcales cuixe and tepeztate.
Next question: Can we buy it here? No, he said, and directed us to local La Mezcaloteca on Calle Reforma that sells bottles and dispenses tastings at the bar. They didn’t have it. Can we help you with something else they asked? No thanks.
Big selection, handpainted boxes at the ultimate gallery Mezcalillera
Do you know where we can buy it? The barkeeper referred us to a vague place at the corner of Benito Juarez and Murguia. Lots of directions here are vague. One needs to be persistent. Along the way, we asked at the retail mezcal shop two doors down. No luck. Then, we stopped in a couple of mezcal bars along the way. No luck.
Map with contact information for Mezcalillera
At the corner of Murguia and Juarez, there was no evidence of anything resembling the sale of mezcal. I asked a young man with an ice cream cone in his hand. He sported a beard. He appeared as if he might know.
Hard to find brands, artesanal and delicious.
And he did, pointing us to the middle of the next block on Murguia between Benito Juarez and Pino Suarez. Hallellujah. We found it. And bought the only two bottles of Gin Mezcal. So sorry! Maybe by the time you read this they will have stocked more.
7 Mysteries, with a look like a boutique California wine label.
Mezcal provisioners are cropping up all over town. Most mezcal bars will also sell bottles. Mezcal is the hot commodity all over the USA and Europe. Some of the bottles for sale have been certified for export. If you go out to the palenques and find the taste you love, you can often buy 750 liters of uncertified mezcal for 200 pesos, a real bargain and fraction of what a Oaxaca retail store will charge.
And, now for the Meteor!
La Mezcalillera, Murguia 403A, Centro Historico, Oaxaca. Tel. (951) 514-1757. Facebook: mezcalillera Enjoy!
Posted in Cultural Commentary, Dining and Lodging, Food & Recipes, Oaxaca Mexico art and culture, Travel & Tourism
Tagged buy, gin mezcal, Gracias a Dios, Mexico, mezcal, mezcalillera, Oaxaca, shop