Spirit Of The Week: Mezcal Amarás Logia Horno

Only 180 bottles of this award-winning spirit will be sent to the United States.

(Mezcal Amarás)

The seed of the Mezcal Amarás label was planted when Luis Niño de Rivera Mesta met one Santiago Suarez at a PR event in the late aughts. At the time Luis was brand manager of whiskies and white spirits for Pernod Ricard Mexico, while Santiago led a Non-Govermental Organization (NGO) in Oaxaca specializing in sustainability and indigenous rights. The two clicked immediately, bonding over their shared passions for both supporting local communities and the spirits industry. 

At first, however, they had no idea the meeting would someday result in one of the more exciting and laudable emerging mezcal brands. That happened finally a couple years later when Santiago approached Luis with an idea: How about launching a mezcal brand? One that not only celebrates the liquid of mezcal, but that also makes a positive impact on the agave farming communities themselves? 

Despite being Mexican and working at one of the largest spirits conglomerates in the world, Luis admits to being fairly ignorant of mezcal at the time. Still, the concept energized the brand manager to join his NGO partner in launching Mezcal Amarás with a strict adherence to true sustainability—not just the greenwashing lip service so many brands employ these days. This authentic commitment can be seen in their vow to plant no less than 10 agaves for each one harvested and is perhaps most underscored by the fact that Mezcal Amarás is the first and only agave spirit to certify being 100% carbon neutral. 

With three labels under their banner, the latest offering in their halo Amarás Logia line may  very well be their greatest yet. Mezcal Amarás Logia Horno begins with one of the rarest wild agave species: Horno—the first time any mezcal brand has used this species. Dubbed Horno or “oven,” because the plant was traditionally used to retain heat in ancestral culinary practices, this rare agave matures in eight to 10 years, blooming only once in its lifetime. 

(Mezcal Amarás)

Partnering with Maestra Mezcalera Bertha Domingo and Maestro Mezcalero Ruben Lopez, these two distinguished maestros ancestrally distilled the Horno in clay pots to craft a spirit ripe with notes of apricot, cinnamon and black pepper, with a touch of both minerality and smoke.  

Only 400 black ceramic bottles of Mezcal Amarás Logia Horno will be released globally, with 180 headed to the United States with an SRP of $399. We had a chance to chat with the two founders to discuss the origins of their Mezcal Amarás label, why sustainability matters, and, of course, why the duo decided to work with such a rare agave in the first place.

What was your inspiration for starting Mezcal Amarás? And how did your passion manifest into a spirits company?

Santiago Suarez: Over the time I spent working in an NGO in Oaxaca and throughout my personal journey in Latin America, I’ve been fortunate enough to spend a significant amount of time with healers and shamans in the region. These experiences and the communities I spent extensive time with played a role in my realization that mezcal is so much more than a liquid—it is a complex blend of tradition, nature, spirituality, and the interconnectedness of all living things.

In 2008, I recognized the untapped potential of mezcal as a means to uplift and provide opportunities for agave farming communities and Maestros Mezcaleros. This ethos has become an integral part of Mezcal Amarás’ philosophy, emphasizing sustainability, community support, and the well-being of all.

How do you decide which Mezcaleros and palenques to work with? 

SS: We are in constant search of the best Maestros Mezcaleros. Since day one we have visited more than 200 of them and work with those who not only have the best mezcal but also share our philosophy from seed to sip.

(Mezcal Amarás)

I imagine you searched many palenques to find the correct mezcaleros you wanted to partner with. What was your favorite part of this phase of the project? 

SS: Our favorite part has always been the personal relationships that we are able to make with the Maestros Mezcaleros and their families. We are invited to their houses, join them in their celebrations and sip Mezcal together—that has always been incredible.     

Can you be specific in how you work with Mezcaleros, how you ensure fair trade? 

SS: We do a lot in terms of fair trade practices in our philosophy. We divide this into three main pillars: COMMUNITY, by which we are constantly looking to empower as many people as possible through each drop of mezcal; TERROIR, in how we grow and care for agaves while respecting the soil to distill the very best mezcal; and LOVE FOR THE EARTH, which shows up in the initiatives we are constantly fostering and promoting to make mezcal the most sustainable and fair distillate in the world.

All these initiatives together have achieved great results in the last 12 years. We have positively impacted more than 20 Maestros Mezcaleros and their families, we plant agaves with more than 160 families in more than 16 different communities, and we are also super proud to be the first mezcal and agave spirit to become carbon neutral by offsetting our carbon footprint.

Why did you specifically want to work with Horno Agave for this expression? What is special about it? 

Luis Niño de Rivera Mesta: Amarás Logia Horno is made from one of the rarest wild agave species. Because this agave and spirit are so revered and sustainability is so important to us as a company, we only harvested enough Horno Agave to produce 400 bottles, 180 of which were allocated to the US market. Our distilling process paired with Horno Agave marks the first time that it has been launched as a mezcal in the world. 

We worked tirelessly to perfect this process, and the resulting mezcal is ready to be cherished and shared. Its tasting notes are nuanced and unique—it has hints of daisy, honey, apricot and subtle herbal notes on the nose, a slightly sweet and herbal profile with bell pepper and mineral notes on the palate, and a well-balanced finish of smoke with hints of cinnamon and pepper.

(Mezcal Amarás)

Mezcal Amarás Logia Horno recently won Double Gold at 2023 SFWSC. This must be both rewarding and reassuring. What did this mean for your team? 

LN: SFWSC is one of the most esteemed judging platforms for spirits globally, making this award a tremendous honor. We knew Amarás Logia Horno was something very special, and being awarded Double Gold—meaning that all members of the judging panel gave it the Gold medal rating of an exceptional spirit that sets the standard in the category—has validated that.

Can you walk us through the distillation process, from harvesting to aging? What is unique about the process used for Horno? 

SS: The distillation of Horno follows an ancient distillation technique that only exists in mezcal and in Mexico. It involves using small 100-liter clay pot stills that are extremely fragile, making it extremely difficult to distill. The process poses significant challenges due to the material used and the time consumed to distill—but it imparts a remarkable smoothness, a unique texture and a rich flavor that can only be achieved through this time-honored method.

There’s a lot of greenwashing in mezcal, but sustainability seems to be a sincere interest and importance for Mezcal Amarás. Planting 10 agaves for each one harvested, for instance. Can you tell us a bit about how you are the world’s first carbon neutral mezcal?

LN: In 2018, we started calculating our carbon footprint and compensated for 100% of it by purchasing carbon bonds from various projects. These projects include protecting hectares of the Amazon rainforest, an Aeloci park in the Dominican Republic, a project in Merida Yucatan that safeguards mangroves, and a reforestation and use program in Oaxaca.

Why is transparency in your mezcals so important when it comes to process and ingredients? 

SS: To make the best mezcal, I think is super important that our consumers understand truly what they have in their hands and how it was made. That is the only way they can truly appreciate it and also honor all the hard work that goes into each sip.

Is this your favorite Amarás Logia thus far? Did it turn out how you expected? 

We are extremely proud of all our mezcals. I do believe they are great liquids, and the fact that we have the most awarded mezcal I think speaks for itself. In terms of Horno being the first time this agave and process has been launched in the world, that is something very special to me. When you taste it you can feel the smoothness of the clay distillation, you understand why it’s such a special mezcal.

(Mezcal Amarás)

Follow Deputy Editor Nicolas Stecher on Instagram at @nickstecher and @boozeoftheday.