Sombra Joven Mezcal is a small-batch artisenal spirit from Santiago Matatlán, Oaxaca, México. It's a young and unaged spirit with spicy and fruity notes and just a hint of smoke.
But the Mezcal does not only taste really good, but the brand also established a very sustainable production. They use organic agave, sustainable wood, solar-powered tools for production, and rainwater.
Here's all you need to know about the brand and its Mezcal expressions.
Sustainable and responsible practices at Sombra Mezcal
I already mentioned a few things Sombra does to ensure they work sustainably and responsibly. But I want to explain the measures they take in a little more detail.
The agave plants Sombra uses to produce their Mezcal are growing at very high-altitude on the slopes in the Sierra of Oaxaca. The Espadin agave for their Joven Mezcal grows in altitudes of up to 8,000 feet above sea level.
Sombra has contracts with local farmers there and only purchases organic agave plants. They're also hand-harvested and fermented with the help of native yeast.
The hand-harvested piñas have to be roasted. And for this procedure, Mezcal brands need wood. Sombra uses only certified and sustainable wood. That helps in preventing deforestation.
Traditionally, the milling process of Mezcal is done with a stone tahona, powered by mules or horsed. However, at Sombra, they work without animals throughout the entire production process. Instead, the mill is powered by solar energy installed by Sombra.
Clean production process
Also, the production process is powered mainly by clean energy and utilizes rainwater to cool condensate lines. This rainwater is collected on the factory roof, just like the solar power used in the distillery.
Re-using waste products
The biggest problem in Mezcal production is the waste it produces. Agave fibers left after roasting, fermentation, and distillation are often dumped into rivers, lakes, etc., close by a distillery. And with it, also the acidic by-products that contaminate the water.
As if that wouldn't already sound alarming enough, the volume of waste is approximately ten times the amount of the actual end product. So what to do with it? At Sombra, they mix leftover agave fibers with earth to create bricks used to build houses in villages in Oaxaca for people in need.
Sombra Mezcal Review
Sombra's Joven Mezcal is their most popular expression the spirit brand currently sells. But besides the Joven Mezcal, Sombra also produces other types of Mezcal. For example, a very special Reposado and a limited Edition Mezcal made of Tepeztate and Tobalá agave.
Sombra Mezcal Joven
Sombra Joven Mezcal is made of 100% Espadin agave. The Joven expression has a light body with only a little smoke. The nose is sweet with notes of caramel, brown sugar, and a subtle trace of smoke.
The biggest problem with this Mezcal is probably the heat from the alcohol. The burn can be a dealbreaker. Especially, in combination with the light body and the subtle flavors and smoke. I recommend using it in cocktails only.
Sombra Mezcal Reposé
Aged: 4-6 months in ex-Bordeaux wine barrels
Sombra Mezcal Reposé is an unusual take on a Reposado. The spirit has to age in former Bordeaux wine barrels for 4 to 6 months before being bottled at 90 proof.
The influence of the wine casks is notable in smell and taste. It shows a beautiful cedar wood aroma. The palate is fruit-forward, with rich vanilla notes mixed with smoke.
Sombra Mezcal Reposé is a smooth and warming spirit with less burn compared to their Joven. If you're looking for a sipper, this one is definitely better suited than the Joven expression.
Sombra Mezcal Ensamble - limited edition
Agave: 61% Tepeztate & 39% Tobalá
Price: $180 - $200
This limited edition is made from two different agave types. With a ratio of 61% Tepeztate and 39% Tobalá, this Mezcal is wonderfully complex. You can get Tepeztate-Tobala Mezcals from other brands, but this one is definitely one of the better ones.
The nose is a bit spicy with a bit of pepper. -In a good way. The palate is rich and well-rounded. Its sweet notes remind me of candy and corn. Also, it carries the fruity aroma of apples and strawberries. If you're familiar with Tepeztate and Tobalá agave Mezcals, you might be able to taste their distinct flavors.
The Ensamble is a very good sipping Mezcal with only one major drawback (besides the bottle design) - the price. It sets you back $200 for a bottle which, to me, feels a bit much. Yet, if you can afford it, you get a really tasty -and sustainable- product.