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Four Distinct Expressions of Mezcal: Meet Pluma Negra

Four Distinct Expressions of Mezcal: Meet Pluma Negra

Pluma Negra Doesn't Just Make a Bottle of Mezcal...

They make four, using three unique kinds of agave plants and a different process for each, resulting in each bottle becoming its own story with individual aromas and tasting notes. Pluma Negra claims to "proudly present" four different small batch "expressions of Mezcal that embody the essence and complexity of this distinct spirit - deep rich flavors on the palate, and aromas that can be both delicate and robust on the nose."

San Juan del Rio, Oaxaca Mexico

San Juan del Rio, Oaxaca, Mexico. Photo Credits: Russ Bowling

Pluma Negra in San Juan del Rio, Oaxaca, Mexico

The Hernandez family, living in the town of San Juan del Rio in Oaxaca, has been producing mezcal for almost fifty years. They make the Pluma Negra Mezcal bottles using traditional methods that have been passed down for generations. Don Rodolfo Hernandez Aguilar is the Maestro Mezcalero, or Master Mezcal-maker, and he works with his son Heriberto.

Pluma Negra's Community Impact

Not only is Rodolfo Hernandez of Pluma Negra a master of mezcal, he is also a community shareholder, and a part of a 3 year rotation for government participation. This allows him to give back to the community of San Juan del Rio, and also makes it legal for him to use agave plants growing on public land to make mezcal. Don Rodolfo has stood up in support of indigenous women in his community becoming active politicians, saying that while he had initial doubts, "now I have a female colleague on the council, and I realize that, just like us, she can organize and carry out tasks too." This marks an important shift in the rights and way of thinking about women in this indigenous Mexican community, a shift that the Pluma Negra Mezcal maestro is a part of. 
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The Traditional Mezcal Making Process

There are 6 steps to the small batch traditional process employed by Pluma Negra, each of which enables the tasting notes and finish to be sophisticated, complex, and enjoyable. 

  1. First, the agave plant is either found in the wild and assessed or cultivated, maintaining 100% agave authenticity. Different types of agave, also called maguey, are used in the four Pluma Negra bottles; each bottle labeled for the maguey implemented in the making of its mezcal. 
  2. Cutting and harvesting follows the finding, assessment, and cultivation of the agave plants until they reach the appropriate maturity (between 7 and 35 years, depending on the category of agave). The agave plant is cut with a machete, and then taken away by donkeys to the underground ovens, where the next step of the process takes place. 
  3. The harvested maguey is then cooked in an underground traditional earthen oven until it is ready to be ground.
  4. Animal powered tahona stone wheels, shown in the instagram video below, grind the cooked agave plant.
  5. The ground up agave is then fermented in pine barrels for 8-15 days, depending on the current external temperature.
  6. The final step is a double distillation in small batch copper pot stills, making the mezcal ready for blissful consumption.
The horse drawn tahona wheel that grinds the cooked agave. 

The Bottles

Review: Pluma Negra Mezcal, Complete Lineup - Drinkhacker

Pluma Negra Tepeztate Mezcal

The Tepeztate Mezcal bottle is made from tepeztate maguey (no shocker there). Tepeztate is a very large and very wild agave plant, grown in rocky soil in shady areas. Tepeztate can grow so big that the piñas alone weigh over 300 lbs. Tepeztate Maguey matures for 25-35 years before it can be used to make the Pluma Negra Tepeztate Mezcal bottle. 

Tepeztate Tasting Notes

Best sipped neat, Pluma Negra Tepeztate Mezcal has undertones of fresh bright herbs and freshly cut grass, along with eucalyptus flavors. Flavors are complex and long lasting, with a "distinctive finish" that "increases in complexity over time."

Where to Buy Pluma Negra Tepeztate Mezcal Online

Pluma Negra originates in Mexico, but can be found online in the US at Tipxy.com, the online alcoholic beverage platform that specializes in craft and artisanal spirits. A 750 ml bottle with an ABV of 52%, the Tepeztate Pluma Negra bottle can be found for only $150.99 on Tipxy.com, with FREE SHIPPPING included. 

Pluma Negra Tobalá Mezcal

The Tobalá Mezcal bottle is, of course, made from the Tobalá agave plant: a small, floral shaped, high maintenance maguey that grows wild in Oaxaca. The Tobalá's small size and mere 50 pound pinás result in the necessity of harvesting many more Tobalá agave plants compared to other agave species. Tobalá plants mature for 8-12 years before they are harvested from public land for mezcal.  

Tobalá Tasting Notes

A sipping mezcal, Pluma Negra Tobalá Mezcal is "fresh, sweet, and savory across each sip," with floral and nutmeg aromas and subtle notes of plum and chocolate. Light tropical flavors of mango and pineapple are long lasting and the first to appear on the palate, followed by herbal and cinnamon undertones. 

Where to Buy Pluma Negra Tobalá Mezcal Online

Pluma Negra Spirits can be found online in the US at Tipxy.com, the online alcoholic beverage platform that specializes in craft and artisanal spirits. A 750 ml bottle with an ABV of 48%, the Tobalá Pluma Negra bottle can be found for just $143.99 on Tipxy.com, with FREE SHIPPPING included. 

Pluma Negra Espadín Mezcal

The Espadín agave plants mature for 7-10 years, and have pinás that reach over 200 pounds. Pluma Negra offers two Espadín Mezcal bottles, similar but with divergent alcohol by volume. The Espadín 40 has a lower ABV, being designed for cocktails, while Espadín 48 has all the same fruity and nutty flavors but is at its best when sipped neat. 

Espadín Tasting Notes

With bright and fresh aromas, the Espadín flavors consist of tree fruits such as apple, pear, and lime, as well as a subtle smokiness and slight herbal notes and almond flavors towards the finish. This mezcal is described as having a "light and zingy feel that flows between tangy citrus and briny olives" with long lasting flavors that stay on the palate. 

Where to Buy Pluma Negra Espadín Mezcal Online

Pluma Negra Spirits can be found online in the US at Tipxy.com, the online alcoholic beverage platform that specializes in craft and artisanal spirits. Tipxy carries the 750 ml Espadín 40 Pluma Negra bottle for $64.99, with free shipping once the order exceeds $99, along with the 750 ml Espadín 48 Pluma Negra bottle for $73.99.

 

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