SUSTAINABLE CULTIVATION PROCESS OF AGAVES
The agaves cultivated by Noble Coyote go through three stages of growth. The seeds are sown on a warm bed where they germinate for the first six months. This provides them with protection from natural enemies such as rabbits and goats, while being watered daily. After six months, the seedlings are moved to a nursery and planted at distances of about 10cm.
At the age of one year - exactly when the first summer rains begin - the agave plants are released into the open. From then on they are on their own. Natural enemies such as goats and rabbits can no longer eat agave plants at this age. These plants have very few natural predators such as "el torito", a type of beetle, as well as the famous Maguey worm. It is enough for the agaves to survive with the rains of the summer, which allows them to grow in the middle of rocky landscapes.
SELECTION AND HARVESTING OF AGAVES
Agaves that Noble Coyote processes are "capón" - meaning they have reached the highest maturity.
Agaves reproduce only once in their lifetime. They do this by growing a flower stalk - the quiote - up to 9 meters vertically into the air. Once they bloom, the dying process of the agave plant begins. To produce Mezcal of the highest quality, the quiote is cut off. This collects the sugar in the core, which would otherwise be used for the growth of the massive quiote. Agaves with the quiote cut off are then called "capón" and are the most suitable for the production of mezcal.
Six months after the cutting of the quiote, the agaves are harvested. In this process, all the leaves are cut off and the plant is severed at the base. What remains is the core or heart of the agave - also known as the "piña" because of its resemblance to a large pineapple.
BAKING THE AGAVES IN SOIL PITS
The piñas are heated in an earth oven for several days in large pits using traditional Oaxacan techniques. This gives the mezcal its characteristic smoky and earthy flavor.
CRUSHING & FERMENTING
The baked piñas (agave hearts) are crushed with traditional Mexican hammers during artesanal production. During this process, the agave is crushed by a stone wheel (tahona) - driven by a draft animal - and then fermented in Oaxacan barrels.
Most mezcals are distilled twice, some three times, including Noble Coyote's Jabalí. After the first distillation, the distillate has an alcohol content between Alc 20% - 30% Vol. The second run (rectificación) produces heads (puntas or cabezas), heart (cuerpo, corazón) and tails (cola). The heart is now also called Mezcal and has a graduation between Alc 35% - 55% Vol. It is consumed at the strength it comes out of the still, without being diluted with water.
To make this separation, the mezcaleros of Noble Coyote do not use modern tools but only their experience and sense of taste and smell.