I am trying to squeeze every bit of Oaxaca into my last days in Mexico as I possibly can. I don't want to go home wishing I did this, or wishing I saw that. After nearly two years exploring this fascinating country, I am heading back to Australia for some quality time with friends and family. But, until my last day I am enjoying all that Oaxaca has to offer and the XX Feria Internacional del Mezcal (20th International Fair of Mezcal) was in town thanks to Guelagetza 2017 and I was not going to miss out on a day of tasting mezcal from over 55 different distilleries.
Here is a brief break down of Mezcal, incase you were unsure of this very unique, Oaxacan liquor. Mezcal is a distilled alcoholic beverage made from many different types of agave plants that are native to Mexico. The word mezcal comes from Nahuatl mexcalli metl and ixcalli which means "oven-cooked agave". I have been told from many people in Oaxaca that Mezcal doesn't get you drunk, it gets you get high. I definitely get drunk but I kind of agree with the "high" part too, a few sips can make you one very happy chappy.
Here is a photographic journey of my lovely day getting a bit boozey at the Fair of Mezcal!
We paid a $40 peso entrance fee each and off we went to explore all things Mezcal.
Let's start with a bit of production education, as we entered the Fair there were demonstrations of the processes used to create Mezcal.
Mezcal gets its smokey flavour during the production process. The hearts of the agave plants (after trimming) are called piñas and are cooked in pits in the ground. The cooked agave is then crushed, combined with water, and then fermented.
Mezcal is made from over 150 different types of cultivated and wild agave plants. The most common I believe is Espadín, as the plant is more available than others. Some farmers have to wait decades for the agave plants to reach maturity for harvesting.
Eight Mexican states make mezcal, with Oaxaca being the leading producer. There are many types of distillation processes, from clay pots, copper pots, oak barrels and more. Mezcal that is bottled straightaway (or aged up to two months) after being distilled is called joven or blanco, reposado is aged between 6 months to a year and añejo is aged for at least a year and up. The longer the ageing process the smoother the mezcal
Some of the stands that I took a liking to. Mostly due to how cute the displays were, also the mezcal was not bad either.
The display from Casa Cortés was too inviting to walk by, so we pulled up a stool and begun our first of many tastings for the day.
When looking at a quality mezcal bottle label it should tell you the name of the plant used, the alcohol content, the region and the distillation process. I have been told to steer clear of mezcales with an agave worm in them, as they are just a tourist gimmick, but I have also been told that the worm adds flavour. I am not a fan, but if you like the taste drink up!
Los Amantes Mezcal (Stall pictured above) during our tasting here we were told the right way to drink mezcal is by kissing it, so it is for sipping not shotting my friends.
After a few tastings later we decided to mix it up with some delicious mezcal cocktails from Viejo Indecente.
I fell in love with their bottle design.
Mezcal Viejo Indecente with tonic and a house made cucumber bitters, this was a perfect break from sipping straight mezcal.
A quick look at the gorgeous as ever Oaxacan sky.
Towards the end of the day we opted for some beers and some food to wash down all of the mezcal we had drunk.
The craft beers on offer were from great Oaxacan breweries and from around the country.
These lovely señoras made my partner his favourite empanada oaxaquena of all time.
All in all, it was a great day and we rolled out of the fair with full belly's and big smiles.
The 20th International Fair of Mezcal is in Paseo Juárez, El Llano Oaxaca until the 25th July, As a part of the Guleguetza 2017.
If you are in town don't miss out!
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