Iván Saldaña is a premier agave plant and distillation master, an expert in tequila and mezcal, and a certified doctor with a PhD in biochemistry from the University of Sussex in England. Born in Guadalajara, México, Ivan has spent his life around agave, having worked on environmental and social projects in rural communities of central and southern Mexico, as well as in conservation areas in the United States and Chile. Iván’s passion for agave inspired him to create an idyllic mezcal; in 2011, Ivan developed and producedMontelobos. Today, he maintains advisory activities with various industry players and devotes a majority of his time to agave and mezcal education through conferences and seminars. He has also recently released his first book, “Anatomia del Mezcal”, further elaborating on the nuances of such a phenomenally sophisticated spirit.
Iván explained that Montelobos Mezcal Joven is grown in the shadows of Montelobos, a mountain in Oaxaca’s Sierra Madre range. It is made from 100% espadin agave, a descendent of the well-known blue agave used to make high-end tequila, that has been cultivated by five generations of family mezcaleros and prepared in ancient artisanal methods including fire pit roasting, crushing by a mule drawn stone wheel, and distilling in small wood fire copper pots.
The result is a smoky, sweet, well-balanced liquid that earned the 2013 double gold medal at the San Francisco Spirits Competition. William Grant & Sons launched Montelobos in 2012, and it is available in select major liquor stores for SRP $49.99. www.montelobos.com
Aroma Kitchen & Bar created a signature Montelobos cocktail (in photo) called the Fiore di Pomodoro using Milagro Silver, Tomato Water, St. Germain, and Montelobos.
Montelobos Mezcal is not to thrown back wth a single “Salud!” If you wish to enjoy mezcal according to Oaxacan tradition, drink it neat (derecho), long and slow, from a votive glass. For the courageous, set next to it a plate of sal de gusano – a mix of chili powder, salt and ground maguey worm served with a slice of orange.
1 ½ parts Montelobos Mezcal
½ part Bols Apricot Brandy
1 part fresh lime juice
½ part simple syrup
Combine ingredients and shake well. Serve in a rocks glass. Garnish with freshly grated nutmeg.
2 parts Montelobos Mezcal
½ part Simple Syrup
1 part Fresh Lime Juice
Combine ingredients and shake well. Serve over ice in a rocks glass with a salt and black pepper rim and orange slice.