San Bartolo Mezcal: A Cultural Treasure

by The Tasting Alliance Team  |  05.31.2022

In the San Bartolo Yautepec Valley, just east of Mexico’s Sierra Madre del Sur and four and a half hours away from Oaxaca City, is 875 meters above sea level with a unique terroir and deep roots. This special place is home to a small distillery with big ideas.

San Bartolo Mezcal was founded on four core values: tradition, quality, culture, and honesty. These forces serve as the foundation from which every decision is made, from the production process to the people they work with. Conceived by Mexican immigrants in New York City to honor family and tradition, this spirit was born in the valley from which it derives its name. 

Maestro mezcalero Valentin Martínez Lopez and his grandson Daniel sought to represent their village and their values by creating San Bartolo Mezcal Artesanal. Lopez’s experience is the central force in their ability to create a well-balanced and exceptional mezcal, while his constant drive towards quality improvement has successfully laid the foundation for the brand’s innovative production approach.

In 2020, the CRM (Mezcal Regulatory Council) awarded el Señor Martinez Lopez with the Mezcal Treasure Statement, in recognition of his contributions to the field.

Casa San Bartolo Distillery is driven by uncompromising quality and attention to detail in their ongoing effort to create the best agave spirit possible.

It all starts with 100% espadin maguey grown for 7 to 9 years before harvesting. Agave’s long growing requirements and the explosion in demand for mezcal outside of Mexico has contributed to depletion of harvestable agave throughout the region, which is something not lost on this house.

Focusing on sustainable growth over quick, short-term profits, San Bartolo Mezcal takes sustainability very seriously. For each agave harvested for the creation of their mezcal, Casa San Bartolo plants twenty more. Yes, twenty. This helps to secure production for years to come, looking forward and paying back to the earth.

Once the agave is harvested, it undergoes a four to seven day cooking process, roasting in an underground pit. Once ready for extraction, the distillery’s horse, Chingón, crushes the piñas with a four-ton tahona. This ancestral method of production imparts the best flavors to the resulting juice, releasing every bit of the precious liquid from the agave hearts.

The resulting juice is then fermented naturally in open-air wooden baths, utilizing the natural yeast from the air. Distillation takes place twice, in a copper still. Each production of mezcal is under 800 liters, creating a true small-batch mezcal

The resulting mezcal is fresh with mineral and herbal notes. It has traces of clean smoke and a creamy texture, then finishes long and fruity. Awarded with a Double Gold medal at the 2022 San Francisco World Spirits Awards, this mezcal is perfect sipped neat out of a copita or in a cocktail, like the Mexican Connection.

The bottle tells the story, with illustrations inspired by local culture and art from the Oaxaca region, prominently featuring a drawing of the church in the town of San Bartolo. The bright, saturated pink, green, and red of the label also highlight agave, fireworks, tiles, and other ornamentation to bring the icon to life.

Says owner Daniel Arellano Martínez, “We have the simple vision of sharing mezcal and ultra-premium quality agave spirits with the world. Over the coming years, we will create something that people will truly savor and enjoy for generations to come.”

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