What do you get when you make Mezcal with a bit of gin’s production technique? You get Pechuga Mezcal.
That’s my simplified understanding of Pechuga Mezcal production at least. So, just what is Pechuga Mezcal? It’s usually double distilled (normally Espadín) Mezcal that’s gone through another round of distillation while a basket field with local fruits, nuts, herbs, and meat is hung over the still chamber. Much like gin production, the vapors go through the basket. The contents of the basket then flavor the vapor, which comes out as Pechuga Mezcal.
For clarification, most non-Pechuga Mezcal are double distilled. Pechuga Mezcal are triple distilled, but the third distillation has the basket in the still chamber. Unlike single malt production, everything in the first distillation is re-distilled. It’s after the second distillation where the heads, hearts, and tails are separated.
As to what Pechuga is for? According to Ron Cooper’s Finding Mezcal, it’s a celebratory style of Mezcal. It is also implied that Pechuga production is seasonal, as some of the fruits, nuts and herbs are usually collected from the nearby mountains between November and January. Because different states can produce Mezcal, Mezcaleros across these states will have different fruits, nuts, and herbs available to them. So, which crops end up in Pechugas will vary from state to state and producer to producer.
The meat used for Pechuga, which is Spanish for breast, is usually chicken or turkey. Re-phrasing what’s mentioned in Finding Mezcal, the meat gets washed under running water for about three hours. The skin is removed to get rid of the grease and fat, but the bone structure remains intact. Then, it’s suspended by strings in the air at the top of the still during the third distillation. Chicken and turkey are the most commonly used meats for Pechuga production, but there have been mentions of other animals being used, such as deer and bats. A limited edition of Del Maguey Pechuga once used Iberico ham given by chef José Andrés to Ron Cooper.
Today ‘s Pechuga Mezcal is Cinco Sentidos’ Pechuga Mole de Poblano. The sample came from PM Spirits’ founder and owner, Nicolas Palazzi. This is the last of the samples from him, as I’ve already reviewed the PM Spirits Hommage and L’Encantada Lous Mouracs.
Cinco Sentidos is brought to us by El Destilado. It’s a restaurant in Oaxaca, Mexico that was started when two young guys from opposite sides of the US met in Oaxaca. The vibrant colors, culture, food, and mezcal drew them in. As their friendship developed, they eventually developed a plan to scour the Mexican countryside in search of delicious and obscure mezcals, and to serve those in a small mezcaleria. It eventually evolved into a highly acclaimed 32-seat restaurant with coveted bottles of small batch spirits.
Their mezcal selection comes to us in the form of Cinco Sentidos. This project aims to highlight the various production processes, agave diversity, talents, and traditions of the amazing makers of this spirit. They don’t blend, age, or alter the spirits from their original form.
They currently work with five distillers across five regions. This Pechuga Mole De Poblano was made by Marcelo Luna. Along with his son, he makes his Mezcal in the community of Zoyatla, Puebla. He distilled through a hybrid Filipino still. The boiling chamber is made of clay. The condenser is a hollowed-out tree trunk with a clay top. Condensed vapors pass through the copper coil housed in a stainless steel pot, where they condense further.
For the second distillation of the Pechuga Mole de Poblano, Marcelo adds cooked chicken and mole poblano. He uses Espadín agave for this. Some of the contents of the mole poblano are chocolate, bananas, apples, chile ancho, chile mulato, cumin, cloves, and cinnamon.
Cinco Sentidos Pechuga de Mole Poblano – Review
48.2% ABV. USD $139.99 from K&L Wines.
Color: Clean water.
On the nose: A fiery and prickly welcome of thin and quickly alternating aromas of different spices, fruits, and nuts. Broken down, I get light to slightly medium aromas of yellow bell peppers, baked pears, Chocnut, nuts, milk chocolate, apple juice, cinnamon powder, salinity, and fermented jackfruit.
In the mouth: Sweet nuts and fruits are more pronounced here, instead of the peppery spice on the nose. I taste light to medium notes of apple juice, Chocnut, diluted hazelnut chocolate, yellow bell peppers, baked pears, yellow kiwi, honeydew melon, and cinnamon syrup.
It’s been years since I last tasted a Pechuga Mezcal. Besides that, I also haven’t had a proper mole yet, so I’m sure that I don’t have the sufficient experience and vocabulary for the flavor profiles of less popular Mexican dishes. I feel like I’m not doing justice in describing what I sense in this Mezcal.
You also might have noticed that there aren’t any tasting notes referring to chicken and smoke. This is just more proof that not all Mezcals have to be smoky to be good. The lack of chicken tasting notes isn’t surprising for me, since the flavor of chicken isn’t really known to be strong.
Regardless of these facts, I like this one. It has a variety of flavors that I don’t get from regular Mezcal. The difference between the nose and mouth also allowed me to enjoy the different aspects of this one more. This is something I’d certainly buy for myself because of how interesting, tasty, and different it is.
Photo courtesy of K&L Wines.
Here are some articles you can check if you want to read more about Pechuga Mezcal:
The Manual, Eater, and Alcademics.
Hey John, hope all is well,
Really interesting about the suspended meat used in the production of this stuff. I never would’ve guessed the two would go together. I’ll have to explore this technique further.
Interesting label slogan: “Drink With Respect”. Tugs at my heartstrings as I had two rings custom-made for me when I was in Turkey many years ago. One said “Honor” and the other “Respect”. I think the respect ring broke, but yeah, I smell what these guys are stepping in and I dig it!
Stay safe over there; I hope you and your loved ones were unaffected by Rai/Odette.
Thanks for the concern. I hope all is well with you too. Aside from rain, Manila wasn’t really affected. The more coastal cities and some islands in Visayas weren’t so lucky.
I love that they added “drink with respect” since so much goes into Mezcal yet due to the Tequila culture, I think a lot of Mezcal are still drank by shots.
Pechuga is said to be pretty new in comparison to how old Mezcal is. I’m quite curious what the genesis of this drink is. I get the fruits and nuts in the basket but the meat is surely unique to Mezcal.