Pensador is made in the Miahuatlán region of Southern Oaxaca, Mexico, by Don Atenogenes García and his family. The distillery, or palenque, is located on the Calle Pensamientos - Thoughts Road - a tiny path surrounded by nothing but agave, scrub-land, and the distant mountains.
Miahuatlán is separated from the primary mezcal producing region of the Valles Centrals by the Sierra Sur mountains and so is climatically distinct. Significantly the area is drier - classified as semi-arid - meaning the agave have to work harder to survive, digging their roots down further, drawing up more minerals, and focusing their nutrients away from their leaves, or pencas, and into their mezcal producing core, or pina. This creates unusual depth and sweetness in the agave. A key component to the unrivalled quality of Pensador.
The other component is Atenogenes' attention to detail, in particular where he makes "the cut". The liquid which comes off a still appears in three stages - the head, the heart, and the tail. Only the heart is kept, the head and tail containing undesirable flavours and chemicals. When making his decision Atenogenes' tastes the distillate throughout the process, unaided by modern equipment. Naturally proud of his work Atenogenes takes a policy of quality over quantity, cutting away large proportions as head and tail leaving a smaller heart of exceptional purity. A true representation of the agave which made it.
The one problem with mezcal this good is that its very hard to find. Atenongenes produces very small quantities of mezcal annually and so it is a treasured resource. Previously only sold locally, there was no incentive for anyone to spread the word and risk losing their stocks. And so Atenogenes and the Calle Pensamientos were a secret, and a secret this good is hard to uncover.
Our path to the Calle Pensamientos was long and winding. Having fallen for the smoky spirit, we dropped everything and took up the mission of bringing genuine artisanal mezcal to a wider audience. To make this happen we knew the flavours we needed. Our mezcal needed all the complexity and power typical of the category, but with an elegance and clarity which suited its premium price point. Vibrant enough to grab your attention, but smooth enough to drink everyday.
So we flew to Mexico and we hit the road, focusing our efforts on the Oaxacan Valles Centrals – the heartland of mezcal production. But extensive travels through the region failed to provide us with the profile we craved. We found mezcal, and a lot of it was excellent, but nothing was quite right.
Travelling further afield we found ourselves deep in the Sierra Norte mountains. And it was here, while sharing some mezcals around a campfire, that we heard rumours of the Calle Pensamientos and the incredible mezcal which was produced there. We immediately set off on the long road south, and on finally arriving at the fabled distillery, fell in love at first sip.