Photo: Mezcal Amarás

At Mezcal Amarás, You Can See the Art of Making Mezcal Firsthand

by Joanna Kalafatis Apr 12, 2023

Besides arguably being the most popular food destination in Mexico, the region of Oaxaca is also known for its incredible mezcal, as it produces more than 90 percent of the world’s supply. In short, to visit the state is to visit the home of mezcal.

On a recent trip to Oaxaca to see the home of Mezcal Amarás, I saw first hand the agaves and distillation process that it takes to make the spirit. It’s an experience, which can be booked through the company’s site, that any traveler interested in mezcal and Oaxacan culture should have on their radar.

horseback riding in agave fields

Photo: Mezcal Amarás

Founded by Santiago Suarez and Luis Niño de Rivera, two friends from Mexico City, Amarás is an ideal starting point for learning about mezcal in Oaxaca. The company is fully carbon neutral and works with local farmers to help grow the agaves that Amarás, as well as other mezcal producers, use. These partnerships help small farms work more sustainably and encourages people to stay and put down roots in the area.

On the tour, you learn not just about Mezcal Amarás, but about mezcal culture and production as a whole.

espadin agave plants

Photo: Mezcal Amarás

It starts in the agave fields to learn about a crop that has been cultivated in the area for millennia, which people used to make the first fermented alcoholic drink, pulque, around 1,000 BCE. Local farmers who work with Amarás and representatives from the company explain the growing process on the tour, including the patience and care it requires — the average espadin agave plant, the most common for mezcal production, takes eight to 10 years to fully cultivate, though the exact time varies among the dozens of varieties used to make mezcal.

roasting agave pinas

Photo: Mezcal Amarás

After the agave field, the tour heads to the earthen ovens used to roast the agave for three to five days. The cooked agaves are then cut into smaller pieces before being ground by a horse- or mule-pulled stone called a tahona. Once the juice from the agaves is fermented, it’s sent to the stills for distillation. Amarás Distilled in two ways: modern and traditional. The former uses copper stills, while the latter uses clay stills.

distilling mezcal

Photo: Mezcal Amarás

And then finally there’s the tasting, which I found was the best part of the tour. Here, you can sip the end result of the process you just witnessed, as well as the infused mezcals that Amarás makes that bring flavors like chocolate, citrus, and various types of nuts to the spirit. Amarás is always experimenting with new infusion ingredients, and if you go on their tour, you can be one of the first people to give your opinion on a new mezcal flavor.

mezcal amaras bottles

Photo: Mezcal Amarás

Of course, any tour is just the start to a mezcal journey. If you want to taste some of the highest quality mezcal in the world and get a sense of the incredible variation of flavors and infusions the liquor can contain, head to one of the many mezcalerias in the city of Oaxaca to enjoy this traditional spirit.

The best mezcalerias to visit in Oaxaca


The intimate, warm, and lively vibe of one of Oaxaca’s best-known bars, Mezcalogia, makes it a great place for a night with friends or fun date night. Try one of the mezcal tasting menus for 750 pesos, and let the extremely knowledgeable bartenders guide you through the many different and delicious types of mezcal based on your preferences.

Mezcalogia serves a lot of brands that are not only from local communities, but exclusive to this bar, such as Santa María Zoquitlán and Ejutla. The venue frequently has live music, so you can listen to local artists while enjoying the laid back atmosphere and learning a little more about this Oaxacan spirit.

Mezcalogia: C. de Manuel García Vigil # 509, RUTA INDEPENDENCIA, Centro, 68000 Oaxaca de Juárez, Oax., Mexico

Sabina Sabe

Sabina Sabe has one of the largest selections of mezcal anywhere in the world. Ranked among the World’s 50 Best Bars, the bar is a must-stop for any mezcal lover visiting Oaxaca.

In addition to mezcal tastings, Sabina Sabe serves a staggering number of mezcal-inspired cocktails you’re not likely to find anywhere else. You can accompany your cocktails with local specialties, like grasshoppers.

Sabina Sabe: 5 de Mayo 209, RUTA INDEPENDENCIA, Centro, 68000 Oaxaca de Juárez, Oax., Mexico


Opened in 2019 as a small bar and tasting room and filled with comfortable plush armchairs and low tables, Mezontle makes you feel like you’re in a friend’s comfortable living room instead of a mezcaleria. This bar prides itself on serving some of the lesser-known brands and smaller local batches from producers who work directly with the owner, Carlos Moreno.

Try the available mezcal brands, including Sola de Vega, San Luis Amatlán, and San Baltazar, on their own, or order one of the many refreshing cocktails on the menu that incorporate mezcal into a variety of mixtures.

Mezontle: Reforma 405, RUTA INDEPENDENCIA, Centro, 68000 Oaxaca de Juárez, Oax., Mexico


La Mezcaloteca was one of the first mezcal tasting rooms in Oaxaca when it opened in 2010. It has retained a great reputation as not only an incredible mezcaleria, but an educational one as well. Book a tasting appointment in advance – options range from three to five half-ounce pours, tasted over the course of 40 minutes to one hour – and let the knowledgeable mezcal guides who work here help you through the menu.

Not only will you learn about the flavors different agaves and infusions produce, but you can ask to try a single agave from a region of your choice to experience the diversity of flavors mezcal can offer. Perhaps to match the informative aspect of this mezcaleria, the low-lit, cozy environment calls to mind an old bookstore more than a bar, and makes for a quiet, charming ambiance.

Mezcaloteca: Reforma No. 506, RUTA INDEPENDENCIA, Centro, 68000 Oaxaca de Juárez, Oax., Mexico

Discover Matador