Decimated to a 10th of their population by the conquests of the 1600s, the indigenous Zapotees of Oaxaca spent the next 400 years recovering. Like many indigenous groups across Mexico they were marginalised from industry, wealth and communication. Only their culture thrived, but weaving and arts and crafts could scarcely improve their fate beyond a few pesos from strayed tourists. However, another of their ancient ritualistic practices is having a profound impact on their lives. Mezcal is bringing money and living standards to a historically destitute people. Not just in Oaxaca but across the eight states that produce the agave spirit. Mezcal is probably the original ‘fair trade’ spirit.
Mezcal: Freeing the spirit
11 November, 2015
Mezcal is a spirit steeped in the rituals of mexico’s ancients. Hamish smith discovers how it is finding its way in the modern world.