LS: What is the biggest challenge facing the mezcal industry today?
CM: With the boom that traditional mezcals are having at this moment, it is extremely important that we recognize that we need to be giving back to mother earth everything that we have taken from her. The agaves used to make mezcal can take decades before they are ready to be harvested. It’s not only about replanting agaves, but also, the wood used for cooking and distilling, a responsible and sustainable method of water usage and also very important, giving the earth a break after harvesting.
LS: What is your favorite maguey? Why?
CM: There’s an agave that grows beautifully around the Matatlan region called Cyrial. When I’m distilling with this particular species, it brings me back to my childhood. All of the aromas of this agave have every single thing that I love about mezcal. It’s a combination of nature, freshness, earthiness, flowers, and clean fresh air.
LS: Who are the mezcaleros or palenques that inspire you?
CM: More than a Mezcaleros or palenques, what inspires me are the different processes and traditions that exist to make mezcal. Every region and Maestro Mezcalero has its own and unique way of making their mezcal. One of my favorite ones, are the mezcals that are distilled in clay. It really takes a lot of hard work, knowledge, and patience. It’s a process that I have not been able to master yet, but it’s one of the reasons why I want to stay in the industry and keep learning more about this beautiful tradition.
LS: If you could tell a first-time mezcal drinker anything, what would it be?
CM: We have been living under the shadow of tequila for a long time and most people have not yet to learned the main differences between mezcal and tequila. For Cruz De Fuego, for example, this is a mezcal artesanal, so there are processes that are different than the way many tequilas are made. And, of course, the maguey. Tequila uses only one species and mezcal has so many. Once you get to understand, it will be an experience every time you drink mezcal.
LS: What makes this a unique region for mezcal production?
CM: The culture about mezcal. Matatlan, was and still is, the place where mezcal and producers sent mezcal all over the world. It is know in the Oaxaca region as the “Capital of Mezcal”. When you tell people that you are from Matatlan, they automatically assume that you are a mezcal producer. You can drive around in car on the streets and it’s hard to believe that most mezcals that are exported around the world come from this small region of the state of Oaxaca. Matatlan, it’s not only know for it’s mezcal but also for its pre-hispanic traditions, culture, festivities, pulque and cuisine. I feel very lucky and proud to grow up in this part of Mexico.