From the Ángeles Carreño family in Santa Catarina Minas comes the brand Real Minero, helmed by sibling fifth-generation mezcal producers Graciela and Edgar Ángeles Carreño.
Graciela is considered one of the thought-leaders in the field, conducting extensive scientific and historic research into agave and mezcal. She employs several botanists who work with the brand to maintain a nursery and laboratory dedicated to protecting, preserving, and studying the plants, vigorously champions social justice and economic and labor issues within the mezcal industry, and funnels a portion of proceeds into creating the first library in the rural mining community of Santa Catarina Minas.
Yet, Real Minero is as deeply rustic and culturally historic as mezcal production can get. Roughly translated as “royal miner”, the brand is exemplary of the minero style of mezcal which can only be certified from Santa Catarina Minas, specifically. Minero implies a production method otherwise referred to as en barro or en olla; distillation occurs in handmade, clay pots using a carved, wooden spoon suspended on string to collect condensed distillate. Much of their agave is broken down after cooking by hand-mashing with massive, wooden bats—like a mortar and pestle of overwhelming size. These countryside methods have not changed in hundreds of years.
A classic pairing, this ensamble has become a core component of Real Minero’s offerings. Among other things, Santa Catarina Minas is well known for the bountiful Agave karwinskii growing in the area, and the historic method of distilling the rare species most often meant a blend with the more commonplace Agave angustifolia. This creamy blend of both cultivated and wild agave is a pleasing combination of salt & spice, with hints of cantaloupe rind, fresh bark and citrus zest on the nose, followed by black pepper, celery and cream cheese on the palate.