Nuestra Soledad Mezcal

Mezcal

About

Nuestra Soledad

  • Nuestra Soledad is comprised of six distinct mezcals from six different producers located in various regions of Oaxaca, intended to highlight elements of terroir in mezcal production.
  • Oaxaca is one of the most geographically diverse states in Mexico, with a wide variety of microclimates, vegetation, and ecosystems.
  • Nuestra Soledad is made using 100% agave Espadín, cultivated in the remote mountain areas around the Valles Centrales region of Oaxaca, alongside wild vegetation and planted in varying soil types, resulting in an array of flavor profiles.
  • Even more importantly, each mezcalero employs his own methods, often passed down through the generations. Every technique used during production, from cultivation to distillation, impacts the final character of the mezcal.
  • The environmental diversity, combined with the human element of production, result in six unique mezcals, despite all six being made from a single agave variety: Espadín.
Casa Cortés Producer and Owner of Nuestra Soledad

Casa Cortés Producer and Owner of Nuestra Soledad

Nuestra Soledad is a part of the Casa Cortés portfolio of mezcal brands. The Cortés family represents six generations of experience in mezcal production, dating back to 1840. Self-owned and operated, Casa Cortés produces mezcal in their family palenque in Santiago Matatlán, but also works with an exclusive network of highly skilled mezcaleros in regions around Oaxaca.

The Casa Cortés portfolio includes three distinct brands, including Agave de Cortés, Nuestra Soledad, and El Jolgorio, each with a different concept. In total, fourteen different families from around Oaxaca work within this special partnership.

Every Casa Cortés mezcalero has their own story, but all share the common goal of preserving the tradition of mezcal by adhering to traditional methods of production, with an emphasis on respecting the environment and laying the foundation for future generations of mezcaleros.

Rolando Cortés, Nuestra Soledad Founder and CEO

Rolando Cortés Founder & CEO

Rolando Cortés, son of Don José Cortés, is a 5th generation member of the Cortés family and serves as CEO of the Casa Cortés company. After growing up in his family's palenque in Santiago Matatlán, Rolando's mezcal journey eventually took him to San Francisco for a period in his twenties, where he gained exposure to the spirits market in the United States. In the early 2000's, Rolando led his family's efforts at breaking into a small, but growing market with the Agave de Cortés brand. In 2010, with the mezcal category still in a nascent stage, Rolando's vision led his family to begin bottling their mezcal for international distribution under the El Jolgorio and Nuestra Soledad brands followed by the re-introduction of the Agave de Cortés brand. Rolando's goal in all of his work was to honor his family's Zapotec heritage and preserve the deep cultural ties that his family has to mezcal.

Global Brand Ambassador Monica Bautista Cortés Global Brand Ambassador Monica Bautista Cortés

Monica Bautista Cortés Global Brand Ambassador

Monica was born and raised in Los Angeles, but her family is originally from Santiago Matatlán, Oaxaca, where her family began producing mezcal around 1840. Despite being born in the U.S., she always felt a pull back to her family's roots and her mezcal heritage. Four years ago, she returned to Oaxaca and decided to get involved in the family business to explore the history that has been a part of her family for so long. She quickly became an integral part of nearly every aspect of the business. In early 2020, Monica took on the role of Global Brand Ambassador at Casa Cortés. She looks forward to helping introduce mezcal to the world.

Follow Monica on Instagram: @monimezcal

Region

Oaxaca, Mexico

Oaxaca, Mexico

  • In the far south of Mexico, the state of Oaxaca is a unique mix of cultures, historically inhabited by several societies including Zapotec, Mixtec and Aztec - throughout its 7,000 yr. history. The continuing presence of the indigenous population is a major asset for the preservation of native tradition. Infused with European cultures and languages resulting from colonization, Oaxaca is a true melting pot and bastion of diversity.
  • A variety of culinary, artistic, religious and commercial cultures are all reflected in Oaxaca's vibrant markets, selling everything from crafts to chocolate, bread to baskets, blankets to clothing and beans.
  • Oaxaca de Juárez – the capital of Oaxaca – is located inland, in the center of three great valleys, at an altitude of 6,500 feet. Geographically, Oaxaca is diverse, with mountains, plains, valleys, tropical jungles and the Pacific Ocean all creating many differing growing zones for many varieties of maguey. An agave's environment - soil type, elevation, exposure and how much water a given agave picks up - has an impact on the sugar content and thus potential quality of the final distillate.
Map of Oaxaca, Mexico Map of Oaxaca, Mexico

Production

The Palenque

Once the agaves are harvested, they are taken back to the palenque (pr. pah-lane-kay) or distillery. Most traditional palenques consist of generally the same elements:

  1. A large pit oven, commonly referred to as a horno, is used to roast the agaves underground.
  2. A Tahona pit for crushing roasted agave.
  3. Open-air fermentation vats, or "tinas"
  4. A copper or clay stil set atop a wood-fired oven.
  5. A nearby water source to use for fermentation.

Harvest

After many years of uninterrupted growth in the field, the wild agave plant reaches maturation. At this stage, the agave is preparing to flower and begins to condense sugars and nutrients in its center, making it ripe for harvest. After observing and nurturing the agave for many years (up to 25 years in the case of the wild agave Tepeztate), palenqueros select only the best wild agave. With a machete or ax, the long, stiff leaves are sheared, leaving a piña, or the heart of the agave, which gets its name from its resemblance to a pineapple.

The mezcalero depends on the land for his livelihood, and routinely talks to the land, thankful for its provisions.

Mezcal Production Process: Agave Roast

Agave Roast

Roasting agaves in preparation for crushing takes many years of expertise to master. Every Master Distiller has his own methods and techniques, making every Nuestra Soledad mezcal unique. During the roast, the heat breaks down the complex sugars in the agave into simple sugars, making them suitable for fermentation.

First, a hot fire is built in an earthen pit-oven, fueled by oak and eucalyptus, and often lined with volcanic or river rocks to absorb and maintain the heat. When the pit is hot enough, the piñas are stacked in the pit over the fire and hot rocks, then covered with any of a variety of materials, including a thick layer of dirt, fibrous agave leaves, and soaked burlap, creating an underground oven. Roasting agave imparts the smokiness typically associated with Mezcal.

Grinding Roasted Agave

Once roasted, the soft, brown agaves are chopped into smaller pieces and placed in a small, round pit to be ground into fibrous candy-like strands, releasing the caramelized sugars and juices that were condensed during the roast.

Traditionally, the palenque employs a mule or horse pulling a round tahona stone to speed the process.

Nuestra Soledad's Master Distillers each use traditional methods passed down from father to son over many generations. Thus, traditional mezcal is made the exact same way it was centuries ago.

Mezcal Production Process: Fermentation in Open-Air

Fermentation in Open-Air

After roasting and grinding, the mashed agave is placed into large wooden tanks, and local-source water is added. Upon mingling with open air and wild yeast, the fermentation process begins, often lasting from 6 - 10 days. The fermenting mash is called mosto.

Mezcal Production Process: Distillation

Distillation

The fermented agave mash is distilled twice in copper stills, set atop a wood-oven. As the spirit evaporates and rises in the still, it is trapped and run through a serpentine pipe submerged in cold water, causing the spirit vapors to condense into liquid form.

After the first distillation, the spirit is approximately 37% abv, and increases to approximately 52-55% upon the second distillation.

Using centuries old methods, and many years of experience, the mezcalero is able to determine the proof of the second distillation simply by blowing through a bamboo-like tube into a cup of mezcal to create bubbles. The larger the bubbles, the higher the proof.

Recipe

Luxury Mezcal Cocktail: Space Coyote

Luxury Mezcal Cocktail: Space Coyote

Mezcal drinks can be delightfully savory, like this fiery and fresh stirred cocktail from Managing Partner of Roquette, Erik Hakkinen. Nuestra Soledad's fragrant, herbal side goes nicely with dry vermouth, green Chartreuse, and Ancho Reyes Verde.

Space Coyote

  • Method:
  • Stir ingredients together in a rocks glass with ice.
  • Garnish with a lemon twist

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