At Rancho El Tinieblo, we plant, grow, and harvest all of the maguey used in the creation of our small-batch mezcal. Each plant is carefully grown with zero pesticides, insecticides, and harmful chemicals. As it takes at least 20 years for one plant to mature, for every one harvested, we plant 25 more.
The farmer who harvests the maguey is referred as the Cortador. Under the guidance of our maestro mezcalero Don Baltazar, we identify and harvest the best and ripest maguey, the base that will ensure each batch will result in a refined mezcal.
Cooking maguey is a social and committed 24 hour process that brings everyone from the ranch together. We gather around the open-pit fire in the roasting of the piñas over wood, rocks and earth. Knowledge is shared and stories are told in a timeless process that satisfies the soul. As nighttime falls, the pit is covered in canvas and soil and is put to bed under the starry skies of the Tamaulipas desert.
To mill the maguey, we keep to tradition by use of the Egyptian traction mill, or Tahona. Historically, our mill was powered by a team of horses but our concern for the safety of animals inspired us to find a new and innovative way to mill. We have since manufactured our own mechanical horse to turn our one-ton monolithic rock to crush our cooked maguey.
El Tinieblo respects the pre-Hispanic tradition of the fermentation process, allowing the natural yeasts of the air to help ferment our mashed maguey resting in open-air wood vats for 7 to 14 days. With care, we move the mash into the casks handful by handful. Though labor intensive, it is from this stage of the process that we derive the final product’s rich complex flavor of roasted maguey, caramelized sugar, roasted fruit, flowers, vegetation and earth. Life flows through and in every drop.
The traditional wood fire double copper still distillation process is a time to give thanks for the bounty. As an act of gratitude to Mother Nature, we let the first few drops of distilled mezcal kiss the earth. This ritual is part of every distillation and has been carried on for generations. The Spanish conquistadors introduced this process to the Mexican natives, who believed that mezcal purified the soul by ridding the body of evil spirits.
The bottling process at El Tinieblo is as artisanal as the liquid itself. We begin with recycled handblown glass and a 1930’s printing press to stamp embossed logos on 100% cotton paper labels. Each expression is hand bottled and heat-closed by our resident bottlers. Each bottle is clearly numbered by batch, maguey types and alcohol content.
Ritual dictates mezcal to be sipped leisurely in good company, served with orange slices and handmade Sal de Guzano (insect-based salts). Mezcal is for sacred consumption. Excess is a profanity.