Mezcal Carreño was founded in 1904 by Don Apolonio Carreño. At that time, he made Mezcal from the wild agaves that grew naturally on his property, land that ironically in some areas was used to grow sugarcane and it was sold to one of the biggest rum producers in the country.
Each year, there were three big parties at Hacienda Carreño. The first was during Apolonio's birthday on February 8th; the second party was held at the end of the sugar cane milling during April and the third started with the corn recollection at the end of the year. Nowadays, the tradition is alive because the family keeps making mezcal and preserves the original artisanal process by using organic plants that are harvested on their fields.
We want to share the culture, tradition and heritage of the Carreño family from our terroir in San Dionisio Ocotlán, a town of only 1,000 inhabitants in the Central Valleys of Oaxaca. Our Mezcal continues its elaboration with traditional and sacred techniques that has been transmitted from generation to generation.
They say that you do not find Mezcal, Mezcal finds you.
There are at least three theories that explain how agave distillation began.
The first one takes us to the 16th century during times of the Spanish Conquest. The Spanish brought to America the copper still with serpentine, which was inherited to them from the Arabs, creating a new process to distill endemic plants.
The second theory postulates that distillation was introduced in America by the Filipinos during the 16th century, who arrived in the galleons from Manila and landed on the coasts of Colima and Jalisco, in Mexico.
The third theory is about the indications of distillation in Mesoamerica, in which there is said that an indigenous distillate was created between 1000 BC. and 1500 BC, using distillation instruments that were completely different from the ones used by the Arabs and Filipinos. Currently, the copper still technique is used for the artisanal category and the distillation in clay pot is used for the ancestral category.
The distilled maguey was known in the 17th century as aguardiente (hard liquor) or Mezcal wine, then the words wine and aguardiente were omitted to know it only as Mezcal.
The Mezcal production was already an industry during the New Spain (Mexico before its independence), but in the 18th century (1795) the Spanish Crown prohibited the Mezcal for considering it “a pernicious abuse against public health and their real interests” in order to continue importing beverages from Europe. Given these circumstances, Mezcal found refuge in haciendas and agricultural communities where the farmers continued with the process learned from their ancestors and that they produced for local consumption.
The Carreño family established at the end of the 19th century in the lands of San Dionisio Ocotlán, territory located in the Central Valleys of Oaxaca. This settlement was in what is now known as “Hacienda Carreño", currently the House of Don Pedro, son of Apolonio. It was built on a land known as "El Barrio” (The Neighborhood) of San Dionisio Ocotlán.
Apolonio Carreño was born in 1882. Son of Pedro Carreño and Rosario Arango, he was brother of Josefina, Serafina and Basilio. All of them men and women from the countryside. Apolonio during his youth and teenage years dedicated to haul metal from the mines of San Pedro Taviche to Oaxaca in carriages pulled by a yoke of oxen. The most important mining reserves were in the districts of Ocotlán, Tlacolula, Ejutla and Miahuatlán. Apolonio managed to collect 150 carriages and with the income of that work he bought the land that would later be owned by the Carreño family.
After settling there, Apolonio Carreño marries Estefana Ramírez and they begin with the construction of Hacienda Carreño. The agave grew wild and naturally in the fields of its property and the maestros mezcaleros, under Apolonio instructions, began to harvest and distill it. This started on 1904 and because of this, the tradition of producing Mezcal with ancestral and artisanal techniques begins. On the hills of his land, several varieties of wild agave grew and the maestro mezcalero distilled those wild agaves to celebrate the three major parties a year that were made on the hacienda to congratulate the boss of the hacienda.
It is until the Mexican Revolution (1910) when the agave-based drinks were identified as a popular drink by excellence, since both federal troops and the revolutionaries drank different beverages agave-based. Despite the prohibition, the tradition of making Mezcal survived as a distinctly indigenous and peasant product, associated with fiestas, rites and healing. This beverage rooted in regional culture and cuisine but remained in the clandestine while the prohibition lasted. When the ban was lifted, the so-called "modernity" intensifies in Mexico, but Oaxaca and its regions are left behind, so instead of starting an industrialization process, Mezcal managed to keep its ancestral and artisanal processes until our days.
The land called "Surcos Largos" (Long Grooves) is acquired in 1930 and with that land Apolonio is finally able to own all the surroundings of the Hacienda Carreño. The sum of the climate, microclimate, soil, variety of agave and land layout constitute the concept of "terroir" (which literally means earth). The quality of Mezcal Carreño depends both on the earth or terroir where the agave has grown, the process of elaboration and the touch and technique the maestro mezcalero gives to its product.
In 1994 the Denomination of Origin (DO) Mezcal was recognized, granting it its protection. Today, it includes different municipalities of 9 states of the Mexican Republic. Both the D.O. and the Official Mexican Standard (NOM) establish the authenticity and quality of this distillate. In 2003, the Mezcal Regulatory Board (CRM) was created and from that moment in joint collaboration with the producers, work has been done to position the category as a spirit of great world prestige. It represents Mexico at its purest form and is conquering the most sophisticated and demanding palates.
Currently the third generation of Carreño family (grandchildren of Apolonio Carreño) keeps alive the process of making handmade and organic mezcal. They elaborate different types to achieve a soft and mature drink that represents the valuable cultural heritage and the identity of Oaxaca. They were born with this family passion and they are passing it down to new generations.
The proposal of Mezcal Carreño in the 21st century is to offer an organic artisanal Mezcal. Our labels range from single varietals such as Espadín, Tobalá, Tepeztate and Tobasiche up to Ensamble 7, a blend of seven wild agaves that is inspired on the seven granddaughters of Apolonio Carreño.
Mezcal is a spirit drink, with very good defined organoleptic characteristic, that may be typical of the raw material and the terroir, in our case, that would be agaves grown on the Central Valleys of Oaxaca. Also, the process of distillation and the touch of the maestro mezcalero is what gives us an unparalleled quality. Our distillates have even surprised the jury of national contests organized by the Academia del Mezcal y del Maguey (National Academy for Mezcal and Maguey) and had been awarded with several distinctions. Our labels have won Grand Gold, Gold and Silver medals during different years contests.
Mezcal Carreño starts its exports on 2017 mainly to Japan, Russia and the United States. We are looking to expand as a global market that can be able to share the taste of this drink and Mexican culture in other latitudes. The 70% of our production is being exported and the rest is used for national consumption.
Behind every Mezcal Carreño bottle is a great story to be told. It goes from cultural resistance to defense of an ancestral drink, care for the countryside and conservation of the land, solidarity and cooperation with the maestro mezcalero and the Oaxacan ethnic communities and even to celebration and pride as national identity, but above all, family passion. Because to make the exceptional possible you have to do your best.
Women have always been present in the Mezcal production process and our case is not the exception. They participate in the sowing and seeding of the agave plants, distillation, packaging, commercialization, tasting and exporting. They are present during every part of the chain working on different roles.
Hacienda Carreño faithful to its quality and philosophy to offer a Premium product, has begun with its first batch to age in glass. These batch rests in our underground cellar and will be pickep up at the end of 12 months. Underground glass containers in stable conditions of darkness, temperature and humidity will give us a velvety drink with a unique typicity.
As we said, behind every bottle there is a great story. Mezcal Carreño inspires us every day, so our bottle was inspired on a prehispanic glass that the people of Mitla used to drink beverages. This could not be otherwise because our identity is Zapotec and in this object an inimitable conjunction of characteristics is reflected. It was created by Mexican graphic and industrial designers, who have won prizes in the most recognized design and graphic competitions in the world. It is a tribute to our land, to our ancestors, to the liquid culture of Mexico and above all, to the preservation of our cultural heritage.