... is the brand of the Ángeles family from Santa Catarina Minas, Oaxaca, which is the fourth generation to produce Mezcal. The family business goes back to great-grandfather Don Francisco Ángeles.
At the time of the great-grandfather, Mezcal production was illegal and was therefore carried out far away in the open field using locally available techniques. Learning from him was his grandson, Don Lorenzo Ángeles, who passed away in 2016 and became the defining character of Real Minero. To this day, Lorenzo is considered one of the best distillers of his generation, and his Mezcals a style-setter.
Today, Lorenzo's son Edgar is the master distiller at Palenque La Concepción — or palenquero, as they say locally — and his sister Graciela is responsible for sales and everything that represents Real Minero to the outside world.
In addition, at least two other sisters, Adriana (sales) and Miriam (bottling), work regularly at the company. Graciela's innovative role as both a woman and the head of a family business in Mexico's male-dominated Mezcal world cannot be emphasized enough.
When asked if her mother takes on a specific task in the business, she answers in the negative, but points out that the daughters' work would be impossible without their mother's help.
The Mezcal style, known as Minero, is a local subcategory of agave spirits from Oaxaca. It is characterized, above all, by the use of ceramic stills, which are exclusively common in Santa Catarina Minas. In addition, many wild agaves and agave blends are distilled. Due to the elaborate technology, production is comparatively low (usually 50 to 200 liters per distillation), but the result is absolutely stunning. Genuine Mineros are certainly among the best unaged spirits in the world.
An outstanding feature of Real Minero is the precision of the processing from the very first step. This begins with the breeding and selection of the young plants, which are produced by the Ángeles themselves, see below (Proyecto LAM). In the earth pit oven, the agaves are conscientiously assembled and not just thrown in. For the mash, each piece of cooked agave is carefully inspected and tasted if necessary. All operations are considered for the best possible result, regardless of effort or cost.
In addition to Mezcal production, the Ángeles family volunteers their time to local social causes.
For example, Graciela initiated the construction of a library in Santa Catarina Minas, which was carried out with volunteer labor and donations. This project became an important point of contact in Corona times for children from the village who do not have their own Internet access or device. In Mexico, schools are still closed (end of 2020) and teaching is done via the Internet.
With the Proyecto Lorenzo Ángeles Mendoza (Proyecto LAM), the family runs one of the most ambitious sustainability projects in the Mezcal world. In an agave nursery, rare wild agaves are grown alongside woody and medicinal plants from the region. This is a local and adapted response to the increasing demand for Mezcal, which also makes the sustainable production of firewood imperative. The special feature is the generative propagation of the agaves, i.e. from seeds. This avoids monocultures and preserves the livelihood of pollinators, namely bats. The work is based on the operation of botanical gardens and is accompanied by a biologist. It is financed by donations and the contributions from visits to the nursery by tourists.
In addition, Real Minero is one of the few distilleries that actively trains young people.
The family motto: “porque sólo lo auténtico perdura” — Because only the genuine outlasts!
Real Minero in SHOP
Real Minero on the Web:
The Guardian (with Film)
Mezcal PHD on distillery visit
Vogue Mexico about Graciela
Food & Wine about Graciela and other women in the mezcal business
Image & Sound
Video by GuildSomm a.o. with Lorenzo Ángeles (engl./ 10 min.)
Private Video about the distillery (span./ 30min)
Video by Vogue about Graciela and women in the distillery (span./ 2min)
Video Interview with Lorenzo Ángeles in 2017 (span./ 30min)
Showdevie Podcast with Graciela Ángeles (engl.)
Film about the library