Madre Mezcal

Ultra-Pure Mezcal from the Oaxacan Highlands

Have you heard the one about the foreigner who went to Mexico and ‘discovered’ Mezcal? Probably, and more than once. Which is why Chris Stephenson is a bit put out. He felt that no sooner had Madre taken off in the United States, much of the narrative around the spirit focussed the story on himself and his co-founders. He responded by printing the name of the producer of Madre’s principal Mezcal, Ensamble, on its front label.

Jose Ines Garcia Morales and his family have made Mezcal in their beautiful valley outside San Dionisio, Oaxaca, for generations. He is the nephew of Alberto ‘Beto’ Morales, of the respected Wahaka palenque, and his small operation is the definition of an artisanal craft distillery. Jose’s father and brothers lift and cut the agaves, his mother blesses the agave hearts before roasting, his wife plants new agaves on the land, and an extended group of uncles and cousins oversee the hours of distillation.

Drawing on the work of his father and grandfather before him, his palenque is certified Artesanal, meaning agave piñas are traditionally roasted in fire pits for up to five days and crushed using a horse-drawn tahona (stone wheel). Fermentation occurs outside in tinas (or oak vats) relying only on the microbe-rich airborne yeasts. The final process is double-distillation in two small wood-fired, heirloom copper stills.

When Madre first met Jose Morales, this tiny distillery could only manage 1,000 litres of Mezcal per day, and right off the bat, the mezcalero made it clear that he would only work with Madre if they were in it for the long term. “They wanted us to know what went into the Mezcal and how it was made”, explains Madre, “to build a deep understanding of the traditions of the region and the family.”

Almost immediately, the parties found common ground. Both believed that Mezcal’s signature smokiness, which comes from roasting the agave heart in rock-lined pits before fermentation, could obscure the plant’s vibrant, site-driven qualities. To this end, the Morales palenque does not allow the thick smoke from the roasting to infiltrate the fermentation and distillation processes, which take place on different days.

This is one reason a Madre Mezcal tastes so clean and pure: it shows great respect for its raw ingredient's diverse and complex weave of mineral, floral and herbal flavours. Another is the high percentage of Cuishe used (in the Ensamble); a slow-growing, semi-wild agave that, while hard to work with, brings crispness and piquant savour to balance the intensity of the sweeter Espadin agave.

Some have termed Madre’s Mezcals as ‘gateway’, in that their spirits are not defined by that often-polarising blanket of smokiness that dominates at the market’s entry level. This is not something that Madre has shied away from. While smoke will always be part of the story, they want Madre to inspire a new generation of Mezcal drinkers while at the same time appealing to experienced Mezcal palates. And on both fronts, they are succeeding.

The combination of the puritan style, the qualities of the spirit, and the inspired branding (by Austin-based design studio, Land) have proven to be explosive; despite being independently distributed, Madre has shot up to become the fastest-growing Mezcal brand in the US.

The Range

Madre Mezcal Espadin (750ml)
Bibendum Bar
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Madre Mezcal Espadin (750ml)

Madre’s varietal Espadín is sourced from multiple villages across Oaxaca, each chosen for its unique and distinct site-driven profile. The Mezcals are then blended to allow Espadín’s full spectrum of flavour to shine through. The heart of the blend comes from the palenque of Carlos Blas, based in Matatlán, whose family started making Mezcal in the 1930s. Carlos works with several growers in the region, and his artisanal distillery honours the traditional methods practised in the area for centuries. Yet from wherever the Espadín is sourced, Madre pays top dollar for only the ripest, highest-quality juice available. Bottled in recycled glass, it’s a smooth yet intense Mezcal, artfully balancing Espadin’s natural depth of herbal and citrus flavors with a lingering, delicately smoky, earth-scented finish. The palate is succulent, balanced and mouth-filling, so while it sips beautifully on its own, it also works beautifully in an upscaled version of tequila-based cocktails.

Bottled in recycled glass, it’s a smooth yet intense Mezcal, artfully balancing Espadin’s natural depth of herbal and citrus flavors with a lingering, delicately smoky, earth-scented finish. The palate is succulent, balanced and mouth-filling, so while it sips beautifully on its own, it also works beautifully in an upscaled version of tequila-based cocktails.

“There’s a ripe, rich fruitiness to this 100% espadin mezcal that makes it a fun swap for classic cocktails, like a Jack Rose or a boozy, stirred Negroni. Clocking in at an easy 40% ABV, it’s also a great gateway for the uninitiated”
Masterful Mezcals, Amy Zavatto, New York Post
Madre Mezcal Espadin (750ml)
Bibendum Bar
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Madre Mezcal Ensamble (200ml)
Bibendum Bar
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Madre Mezcal Ensamble (200ml)

Ensamble is Madre’s centrepiece. It’s a blend of Espadin and the rare, wild agave, Cuishe, which only counts for 1-2% of agave species. The lion’s share of the blend is crafted by Jose Ines Garcia Morales and his family in San Dionisio, with a little Cuishe supplied from the Vazquez palenque in Miahuatlán.Agave Cuishe is part of the slow-ripening Karwinskii family, which also includes the Cirial and Tobasiche varieties. Due to the agave’s dense core and low water content, Mezcal made from Cuishe has a slightly tropical and earthy tone. This is picked up during the cooking; the piña is long and thin, increasing the surface area for the roasting process. As, unusually, the stalk and the piña are harvested and roasted together, Mezcal from the Karwinskii family is often said to have a firmer structure. As wild agave is a dwindling resource, for every plant harvested Madre replants it two-fold.

A departure from the overtly smoky Mezcal that abounds, the blend of sweet Espadin and piquant Cuishe is designed to be a perfect first taste for a new Mezcal drinker, as well as a great everyday sipper for the Mezcal aficionado. As the flavours unfold, you seem to taste something different with every sip: herbal and smoky notes, sage and minerals and sweet earthy fragrance. The finish is clean and lingering, underpinned by subtle smoke and floral flavour. Each small batch release is bottled in recycled glass and hand numbered.

“This Ensamble is made using Espadín and Cuishe agave, and serves rich tropical fruit and bonfire smoke notes that flow from nose to palate. Its alcohol content ups the intensity of those aromas and flavors, delivering a well-balanced experience and an approachable introduction to the category.”
92 points, Vinepair (15 best Mezcal brands and best Mezcals for sipping 2022)
Madre Mezcal Ensamble (200ml)
Bibendum Bar
Added
Madre Mezcal Ensamble (750ml)
Bibendum Bar
Added

Madre Mezcal Ensamble (750ml)

Ensamble is Madre’s centrepiece. It’s a blend of Espadín and Cuische, the rare, wild Agave that only accounts for 1-2% of Agave species. The lion’s share of the blend is crafted by Jose Ines Garcia Morales and his family in San Dionisio, with a bit of Cuishe supplied from the Vazquez palenque in Miahuatlán. Agave Cuishe is part of the slow-ripening Karwinskii family, which also includes the Cirial and Tobasiche varieties. Due to the Agave’s dense core and low water content, Mezcal made from Cuishe has a slightly tropical and earthy tone. This is picked up during the cooking; the piña is long and thin, increasing the surface area for the roasting process. Unusually, the stalk and the piña are harvested and roasted together, so Mezcal from the Karwinskii family is often said to have a firmer structure. As wild Agave is a dwindling resource, for every plant harvested, Madre replants it two-fold. A departure from the overtly smoky Mezcal that abounds, the blend of sweet Espadin and piquant Cuishe is designed to be a perfect first taste for a new Mezcal drinker, as well as a great everyday sipper for the Mezcal aficionado. As the flavours unfold, you seem to taste something different with every sip: herbal and smoky notes, sage and minerals and sweet earthy fragrance. The finish is clean and lingering, underpinned by subtle smoke and floral flavour. Each small batch release is bottled in recycled glass and hand numbered.

A departure from the overtly smoky Mezcal that abounds, the blend of sweet Espadin and piquant Cuishe is designed to be a perfect first taste for a new Mezcal drinker, as well as a great everyday sipper for the Mezcal aficionado. As the flavours unfold, you seem to taste something different with every sip: herbal and smoky notes, sage and minerals and sweet earthy fragrance. The finish is clean and lingering, underpinned by subtle smoke and floral flavour. Each small batch release is bottled in recycled glass and hand numbered.

“This Ensamble is made using Espadín and Cuishe agave, and serves rich tropical fruit and bonfire smoke notes that flow from nose to palate. Its alcohol content ups the intensity of those aromas and flavors, delivering a well-balanced experience and an approachable introduction to the category.”
92 points, Vinepair (15 best Mezcal brands and best Mezcals for sipping 2022)
Madre Mezcal Ensamble (750ml)
Bibendum Bar
Added

“This Ensamble is made using Espadín and Cuishe agave, and serves rich tropical fruit and bonfire smoke notes that flow from nose to palate. Its alcohol content ups the intensity of those aromas and flavors, delivering a well-balanced experience and an approachable introduction to the category.” Vinepair (15 best Mezcal brands and best Mezcals for sipping 2022)

Country

Mexico

Primary Region

Oaxaca

Availability

National

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