The Tasting Panel magazine

November 2018

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november 2018  /  the tasting panel  /  5 John Sean Fagan spends most of his days surveying the Oaxacan terrain in his mobile office: a 2007 Chevy Cheyenne pickup he prefers to the stiff- ness of a desk. Fagan, who has served as the Director of Sombra Mezcal since 2009, delightedly describes the land- scape as "a big blue sky with huge clouds dancing their hearts out every day, big green mountains in all directions, and 12,000 years of history." The terroir of this region, famous for its mole and seasoned chapulines (grasshoppers), also plays an integral role in the successful development of the agave plant and, subsequently, mezcal. In order to meet increasing demand, Fagan oversees the cultivation of tens of thousands of individual agaves, some nearing the size of a Volkswagen. "It's just one of those microclimates where with the right humidity, on the right hillside, with 300 days of sunshine and well-draining soil, the agaves just thrive," he says. As the market's interest in Sombra grows, humble roots remain part of the company's foundation. Fagan fondly recounts how Sombra still used glass- blown bottles from a tiny factory in a SOMBRA MEZCAL CHANNELS TERROIR TO EXPRESS THE SPIRIT OF OAXACA by Kyle Billings photos by Timothy Murray The agave used in Sombra's mezcal is harvested by hand in Oaxaca, Mexico. "It's an artisanal mezcal, so it's handcrafted. It's not an industrial process and there's a lot of subtlety that goes into the production. What we're trying to do is create a consistency within that uniqueness to extract the highest amount of flavor." -JOHN SEAN FAGAN, DIRECTOR OF SOMBRA MEZCAL

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