Vanilla, mint, citrus, and smoked wood on the nose. The palate is savory, vegetal, smoky, with a bit of black pepper. Strong minerality. A smooth, creamy, relaxing finish.
This artisanal, single-producer mezcal is made using century's old techniques passed down through generations. Neither formulas nor scientific equipment are relied upon to make this mezcal. Rather, it's experience, skill, patience, and art that together create this exquisite liquid.
The wild agaves used in Ensamble are between 10-35 years old. Carefully chosen by the Maestro Mezcalero, they are hand-harvested by machete and coa (a long wooden stick with a thin blade at the bottom), and then cooked, milled, fermented, and distilled all together for a true marriage of the different flavors each agave brings.
The agave hearts (piñas) are roasted in a conical earthen pit lined with volcanic rock, which absorbs and maintains the heat. Regional hardwoods, including mesquite, are lit, and agave fibers from a previous distillation are used as a base, to prevent the fresh piñas from burning and producing an overly bitter mezcal. Here, the natural starches in the piñas are converted into fermentable sugars over the course of 3-5 days.
Once cooled, the piñas, cut into smaller pieces by machete, are slowly crushed the traditional way: a horse pulls a large volcanic millstone (tahona) around a stone base in which the tender, fragrant piñas sit.
Once the juice is extracted and the fibers crushed, it is all transferred to large open-topped wooden vats for fermentation. Pure local mountain spring water is added, and then nature is allowed to take her time as wild, native airborne yeasts do their work of fermentation. This process that can take up to two weeks depending on season and even wind conditions.
Finally, for maximum flavor and complexity both the liquid and the fibers are transferred to the still. The first distillation is in a wood-fired copper still, and the second distillation is in smaller clay still. The choice of still influences the speed, output, and flavor of the mezcal, and Juan Carlos Gonzalez Diaz is one of the few known mezcaleros to use both copper and clay stills for distillation of single batches.