Must-Try Pechuga Mezcal BrandsBy Stephanie Moreno
Although mezcal is one of the most buzzed about spirit categories, we’ve found that some great styles are still flying under the radar. Pechuga mezcal is one of those limited edition releases that you’ll want to know about. For starters, let’s begin with the name. Pechuga means “breast” in Spanish. You heard that right. This type of mezcal is an age-old tradition among mezcaleros throughout Mexico. It is produced in tiny amounts, traditionally for friends and family on very special occasions. The exact recipes are usually closely-guarded family secrets. Fortunately for us, there are a growing number of pechuga mezcal brands on the market.
To make pechuga mezcal, twice-distilled mezcal is distilled a third time—typically from espadín agave. But for this third distillation, a variety of foods such as rice, fruits, nuts, herbs and spices are added to the still. Furthermore, a raw pechuga of a chicken or turkey (or even rabbit, jamón or iguana!) is suspended so that the vapor of the mezcal can go through the raw protein before it returns to a liquid form.
Keep in mind that while pechuga mezcal brands have increased in numbers over the years, they are still in limited supply. Indeed, their price tags will reflect this, so it’s better to sip them rather than mix. Sipping allows you to appreciate the wide variety of flavors and textures going on, so take your time. Enjoy on days of celebration, including weddings, baptisms, quinceañeras, and of course, Día de los Muertos.
Bozal Pechuga is made using traditional production methods with wild cupreata from Guerrero—known in this area as papalote. Before the third distillation, an organic cooked chicken marinates along with locally sourced fruits, chiles, citrus, raisins, cinnamon and cloves. After the marination, the protein and spices are added to the still.
Yuu Baal is a Oaxacan mezcal brand which incorporates mezcal producers from San Juan del Rio, San Luis del Rio, Tlacolula and Miahuatlan. The name in Zapotec means earth (yuu) and fire (baal). The agaves cook in a concave stone oven and a tahona crushes them, among other traditional production methods used. Yuu Baal Pechuga is triple distilled using fruits and a turkey breast in its final distillation.
Montelobos Pechuga Mezcal starts off with the brand’s artisanal Espadín Mezcal. Making it a seasonal release, the liquid is then distilled a third time using a turkey breast, local fruits and spices. It is made small batches and is bottled at 47.9% ABV.
Pierde Almas creates this seasonal Pechuga every November. It takes the brand’s Espadín Mezcal to the next level with a third distillation. The most notable step is hanging a turkey breast in the still, a variation on the traditional chicken breast. Before the third distillation, the pechuga mezcal is infused with a variety of wild fruits, herbs and nuts, such as apples, pineapples, almonds, pecans, citrus blossoms and anise.
El Jolgorio Pechuga mezcal is produced from espadín agave that is harvested at ten years of age. The agaves are pit-roasted, crushed by a tahona, open fermented, and double-distilled by mezcaleros Valentín Cortes and Gregorio Martinez Jarquin in Santiago Matatlán, Oaxaca. Various fruits are also put into the still along with breast from a turkey rooster.
For this pechuga mezcal, Del Maguey Minero Mezcal is the base. The mezcal returns to the still with a mix of wild mountain apples, plums, plantains, pineapples, almonds and white rice. A raw, skinless chicken breast is used to hang above the still for the distillate to travel through. It’s always bottled at strength without dilution.
Don Mateo Mezcals are made using artisanal and sustainable practices. The cupreata agave is used rather than the more neutral espadín that others use. The matriarch of the family, Delia Vargas Vieyra, selects the ingredients for the Pechuga bottling which includes iguana, venison, and turkey along with a selection of dried fruits and nuts. All are hung from inside the still for the third distillation.
Calling all vegans—this pechuga mezcal brand is for you! Don Amado Pechuga begins with agave espadín, which is distilled twice in a clay pot still. The spirit is then infused with a variety of fruits, spices and nuts before being distilled a third time. The Don Amado family does not utilize any animal fats in the production of its Pechuga. This is a tradition that has been passed down for generations.