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 not only has the Mezcal a nice taste, but the brand also established a very sustainable production. For example, they use organic agave to produce their Mezcal, use certified and sustainable wood for roasting the agave, solar-powered tools for production, and rainwater to reduce the use of Municipal resources.
The organic agave plants Sombra uses to produce their Mezcal grows on steep slopes in the Sierra of Oaxaca. They're hand-harvested and fermented with the help of native yeast. We had a closer look at how Sombra produces their spirit and did an in-depth Sombra Mezcal review.
Sustainable and responsible practices at Sombra Mezcal
I already mentioned a few things Sombra does to make sure to be sustainable and responsible. But to explain the measures they took in more detail, here's a step-by-step guide along the production process and what Sombra does to improve it.
The agave plants Sombra uses to produce their Mezcal are growing at very high-altitude. The Espadin agave used for their Joven Mezcal grows in altitudes of up to 8,000 feet above sea level. That is mainly because this is supposed to affect the taste positively. The more important part is that Sombra has contracts with local farmers and only purchases organic agave plants.
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 along the whole production process. Instead, the mill is powered by clean energy and comes from solar panels 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 their roof, just like the solar power used in the distillery. The solar panels help run the machines in the distillery with sustainable energy.
Re-using waste products
The biggest problem in Mezcal production is the waste it produces. Agave fibers left after roasting, fermentation, and distillation are usually dumped into rivers, lakes, etc., close by a distillery. And with it, also the acidic by-products that contaminate the water.
And 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? Sombra Mezcal is doing something really clever here. The leftover agave fibers are mixed with earth to create bricks. They then use these bricks to build houses in villages in Oaxaca for people in need.
More about it
If you want to learn more about the brand's initiatives, you can find more information on the Sombra website.
Sombra Mezcal Review
Sombra Joven Mezcal is the 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. They even produced 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 hints of flavors. The nose is rather 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 you get from will turn many off. Especially, in combination with the light body and the subtle flavors and smoke. You can sip this spirit neat. However, I would 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 ex-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. In the nose, 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 of a burn compared to Sombra Mezcal Joven. If you're looking for a sipper, this one is far better than their Joven expression.
Sombra Mezcal Ensamble - limited edition
Agave: 61% Tepeztate & 39% Tobalá
Price: $180 - $200
This limited-edition expression is made of two different agave types. The ratio of 61% Tepeztate and 39% Tobalá agave this Mezcal is wonderfully complex. There have been quite a few Tepeztate-Tobala Mezcals by other brands, but this one is definitely one of the better ones I tasted. 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 should be able to detect hints of both of them. The Ensamble is a very good sipping Mezcal with only one major drawback (besides the bottle design) - the price. Having to pay $200 for a bottle of this juice feels a bit much. Yet, if you can afford it, you surely won't be disappointed by this beautiful Mezcal.
Sombra Mezcal cocktails
Should you not be a fan of drinking Mezcal the traditional way, how about some Mezcal cocktail recipes? And, luckily, Sombra Mezcal works great in Mezcal Cocktails. Their Joven Mezcal, in particular, benefits from the combination with other ingredients. It's fantastic in a Mezcal Margarita or Mezcal Sour cocktail. But if you want more inspiration, take a look at our favorite Mezcal cocktail recipes.