Leave it to the hams at José Andrés‘ Think Food Group to find a way to add some fancy Spanish pork to just about anything. Consider “Iberico,” the newest label from Del Maguey Single Village Mezcal. The potent 98-proof varietal gets its name and distinctive flavor, of course, from the highly prized black-hooved hogs of the Iberian Peninsula whose meat is among the world’s priciest. Del Maguey founder Ron Cooper credits this modern Spanish twist on the ancient Mexican spirit to Andres’ deputy Ruben Garcia, the former elBulli chef who now heads research and development efforts for Think Food…. Continue reading
Mezcal mogul Ron Cooper sources his small-batch, high-end hooch from remote villages in Mexico. The job takes him over some pretty interesting terrain. On one adventure, the founder of Del Maguey Single Village Mezcal is steering his jeep along some back roads in Oaxaca when he and his crew rumbles into a lush canyon – “with the most beautiful wild agaves, growing straight out of vertical walls,” he recalls.
“All of sudden, there are eight Indians with rifles, right in front of us. And these two guys [in the Jeep] scream. I go, ‘Namaste. Take it easy, take it easy…’
“The first thing I do, I roll down the window and I say in Spanish, ‘Hey, what’s the name of that agave growing up there?’ And this Indian walks up to me and goes, ‘You like agaves?’ I go, ‘Yeah, I like mezcal.’ I always have a clay cup on the center console of my Jeep, so I hold it up and I ask him, ‘Have you ever heard of Rio Minas?’ And he goes, “I’m the maker of mezcal in Rio Minas.” And he mumbles to his buddies in their Mixtecan tongue and one guy shakes a water bottle, brings it up, opens the bottle and pours me a sip of his incredible elixir.
“That’s the perfect embodiment of ‘You don’t find mezcal, mezcal finds you.’”*
*Excerpted from an earlier interview no longer available online @stationtostation
Here’s the full Q&A: Continue reading