Pensador is produced by Atenogenes and José Garcia in the town of San Isidro Guishe in the Miahuatlán region of Southern Oaxaca, Mexico. The distillery, or palenque, is located on the Calle Pensamientos - Thoughts Road – leading from Miahuatlán de Porfirio Diaz in the west, through San Luis Amatlán - “La Cuna Del Buen Mezcal” – and on to the Sierra Sur mountains in the east.
The region of Miahuatlán forms a plain of roughly 1,500km² at an altitude of 5,100ft. It’s situated at the southern tail of Oaxaca’s Valles Centrales – a part of the same valley system as the primary mezcal producing region of Tlacolula 100km to the north, but separated by a collection of mountains east of Ejutla. Significantly, the plain is surrounded to the south, east and west by the Sierra Sur range, sheltering it from Pacific weather systems, creating a warmer, drier climate than the prolific Tlacolula. This distinctive geography has given rise to a unique biodiversity of maguey – varietals of agave - many of which are endemic to only Miahuatlán.
Isolation from Tlacolula has also resulted in a unique culture and production style amongst the region’s Mezcaleros. Through the generations techniques are passed from father to son, and shared with neighbouring communities, giving rise to localised production styles. The use of Refrescadors – water cooled pot stills to allow for single shot distillation – is widespread, as is an apprehension towards the shishe, or colas – the low alcohol end run of the distillation.
These two local elements, combined with the unique varietals of yeast and microbes endemic to the area, form the basis of Miahuatlán’s terroir; the source of its instantly recognisable flavour profile. Mezcals from Miahuatlán tend to be clean, bright, and agave-forward: a profile championed by Atenogenes and José, and exemplified by Pensador.
Mezcal has long been an obsession of ours: one developed in Oaxaca, and played out in the bars and agaverias of our home town of London. But it wasn’t until we tried the mezcals of Miahuatlán that we realised the limitations of our scope. Our experience of this endlessly complex spirit – one with no restrictions on maguey and the largest Denomination of Origin in the world - was almost entirely of mezcals produced from one maguey, Espadin, in one region, Tlacolula. We knew there was better stuff out there. And we wanted to share it.
After several trips to Miahuatlán, we met Atenogenes and José, whose exceptional liquid was matched by the warmth of their hospitality. We worked together over many months to create Pensador, a liquid which perfectly displays their skills as grower-producers. It has been an honour and a privilege to be welcomed into their family, and participate in their culture, while learning what we can about their complex production process.