The (relative) boom in interest in agave spirits (mezcal, raicilla, bacanora, tequila, and destilado de agave) has created an economic engine that is sparking enormous changes in the rural Mexican towns where they produce the traditional and artisanal spirits. The young adult male population had been depleted in these small towns, as they went north to make money to send home. But those same adult males are now needed in the towns to make these spirits, and to farm to feed the larger populations. And the increased income is allowing them to build libraries and stock those libraries with books — a scarce resource in these towns.

SACRED helps raise money to send to these towns, to aid in the building of these libraries; to help replant the agave in the wild, to ensure the economic engine doesn't die; and to underwrite the cost to maintain and replicate the water-reclamation systems these towns have established to buffer against drought. The fund-raising generally takes the form of tastings, where participants who make a donation directly to one of the projects in Mexico are treated to samples of five or more of the rare agave spirits from these towns. In this way, we like to thnk we're leveling the playing field: destroying our brain cells while building theirs.

Below is a summary of some of the contributions we've made to these programs and systems.

Library 1

Library 2


Graciela Angeles of Mezcal Real Minero has been leading the charge to get this library built in Santa Cataria Minas. We've helped raise funds to support the build-out of the library, and have been meeting with people at Fundacion Televisa to supply books when the building is complete. To the left you'll see a link to a CNN story about the library.

Letter of thanks (click to enlarge)


Greenhouse 1

Greenhouse 2

Greenhouse 3


The explosion in the interest in mezcal and destilado de agave is great — it's fueling projects like the library mentioned above, and it's bringing an adult male population back to Mexico's rural communities. They don't have to leave to make money to send back home — now they can stay home and earn money by making agave distillates. But since agave takes between four and 50 years to reach maturity ... and since agaves that are harvested for the making of spirits cannot go to seed to repopulate ... this explosion in production is seriously reducing the agave population. A reduction in agave both threatens the longevity of this financial boon and also threatens the environment — agave takes a ton of carbon out of the atmosphere. So it is critical that the agave be replaced. To that end, we have been raising funds to help maintain the greenhouse in Santa Catarina Minas. The greenhouse — which is run by the local government — replants the agave in the wild.

Letters of thanks (click to enlarge)




Earth Day 1

Earth Day 2

Replanting Agave

Arroqueño is an agave varietal that can take 22 years to reach maturity. As such, it is one of the varietals at risk of becoming extinct. As the demand for agave spirits increases, the wild agave is harvested in greater numbers — and when it is harvested, it loses its ability to produce seeds. To the left is a picture of a crop of Arroqueño that was paid for with funds generated at one of our tastings. These are nine-year-old agave that have been transplanted at a farm in Minas, where they'll be allowed to go to seed, thus ensuring the varietal won't go extinct.

To celebrate Earth Day 2016, we funded a day of families planting agave in the wild. Over a hundred people from Minas gathered to learn about the importance of agave to the environment, as well as the financial health of the town. They planted over a hundred agave in the wild and were treated to a special lunch prepared by El Destilado.

Water 1

Water 2

Water Reclamation Project

In a January 2016 interview on NPR, the reporter was speculating on the El Niño storms heading to California, and whether or not the rains could solve California's five-year drought. Her guest — Alice Walton of the Los Angeles Times — said it would not. Walton said the rain couldn't be captured. But that's exactly what Eduardo Angeles of Mezcal Lalocura has done.

Eduardo led a team of the community's women, who built stone walls along the mountains surrounding the town. These walls — barely eight inches high — hold the water in place long enough to enrich the soil, and they keep that soil in place. The result is that there are now trees growing on these once-barren mountains — and these trees help capture still more rain.

And when the rain water filters through these stone walls, it is directed into natural basins that have been capped by the dams built by the men in the town. There are now 40 of these reservoirs, and Eduardo estimates that they have captured three years worth of water — water that is refilling the aquafiers that feed the town's wells, and water that is being piped to farmers to grow produce.

Tres Reyes 1

Tres Reyes 1

Día de Los Reyes

The owners of Mezcal Real Minero in Santa Catarina Minas invited us to participate in their annual Día de Los Reyes event in 2015. They were seeking a sponsor to bring toys for the children in their community. So we recruited our friends to help, and together we gathered and brought to Oaxaca more than 150 toys. By plane. Customs loved us. We participated again in 2016, but asked that the children write us letters with specific requests. The first year was fun; this year was touching. So many of the children asked for bicycles, so that they could get to school. One girl wanted the bke so she could get to school early ... so that she could study and grow up to be a doctor ... so she could make sure no other little girl's mother died, as hers had.

Letter of thanks (click to enlarge)

Tres Reyes


Toys for Tipples

Toys for Tipples

Sunday, December 18, 2016
anytime from 6:00 to 9:00 PM

Masa Azul
2901 West Diversey Avenue, Chicago IL 60647

On Sunday, December 18, bring a new, in-the-package, unwrapped toy to Masa Azul and get a taste of a rare agave spirit, unavailable anywhere in the US! Bring two toys, taste two rare agave spirits! More than a dozen traditional and artisanal spirits to try. So bring more than a dozen toys! (Join the Mile High Club: try three spirits made from agave grown at elevations greater than a mile!)

The toys will be given to children in the small, rural Oaxacan town of Santa Catarina Minas, where Mezcal Real Minero and Mezcal Lalocura are made.

You give a treat, you get a treat!

Roots Chocolates

Agave Spirits-infused Chocolates

While they last...

Roots Chocolates
Wisconsin Dells, WI

For the past three years, SACRED has hosted tastings of agave spirits at the Fermentation Fest in Reedsburg, WI. Every year we raise more and more money for the projects we support in rural Mexico, and we make more and more friends in the process. One of the friends we made this year is Lisa at Roots Chocolates. She loved the spirits we were pouring and the programs we are supporting and suggested a way to raise more money: a box of agave spirits-infused chocolates! So, available strictly by mail-order, for a limited time, are four different chocolates, each infused with a different agave spirit. Here's the rundown on the spirits used:

Miguel Angel Partida Rivera is a fifth-generation master distiller in Jalisco. He distilled Ixtero Amarillo — a cultivated agave Rhodacanta that takes between six and twelve years to mature — in a wooden-mount condenser fashioned from a hollowed-out tree trunk. This is called a Filipino still and its use in Mexico dates back to at least 1630. Miguel and his father Macario are some of the most vocal opponents to mezcal certification regulations, especially because they cannot (and never legally will be able to) call their spirits mezcal because of the tequila regulations in their region. This spirit was sourced and bottled by Cinco Sentidos in Oaxaca, a line that is bottled by El Destilado.

When Eduardo Angeles Carreno makes a spirit from Espadin agave, he will distill it twice in his wood-fired clay-pot still. But when he makes a batch of Pechuga for his Lalocura label, he'll throw that Espadin spirit into the clay pot a third time, adding fruits like pineapple and plantains, spices like cinnamon, and a raw chicken breast (yes, raw chicken breast) before stoking the still's fire. Lalo -- as his friends call him -- isn't just creative with his distillation. He is also the man who has set up the greenhouse operation in Santa Catarina Minas, Oaxaca, that is saving rare agave varietals from becoming extinct, and the mastermind behind a system that has simultaneously both secured that town's water future and reduced its likelihood to be damaged by El Nino rains.

Erick Rodríguez of Almamezcalera is the Indiana Jones of artisanal Mexican spirits. He travels deep into Mexico looking for the best examples of these spirits to share them beyond their local communities. That's exactly what he found when he met Ventura Gallegos of Nombre De Dios, Durango. Ventura roasted wild sotol plants in an earthen oven before milling those plants with an axe and fermenting them using wild yeasts in an open-air wooden barrel. He then distills the fermented beverage twice in a wood-fired copper still. The result is an herbal, dry spirit that smells like green bell peppers.

Tío Chuchi and Tía Victoria are a family of maestros in Chilapa de Alvarez, Guerrero, a region that is a mosaic of Nahuatl-speaking communities that maintain ancestral traditions. They distill their spirits in wood-fired clay-and-steel stills from fermented papalote agave that grows wild in the area's red earth. Each agave is roasted over yellow oak in a stone-lined earthen oven, milled by hand, and fermented in open-air wooden barrels. This spirit comes to us from El Tigre Mezcal, an organization that devotes a portion of its earnings to sustaining this artisanal process that guarantee its preservation in the land of the ancestors of the tigermen.

Each box of chocolates costs $10, and 20% of that goes back to the farm-related projects we support in rural Mexico. To order your box, visit!

Agave Triangle

The Agave Triangle


Logan Square
Chicago IL 60647

You've been reading about mezcal, heard your friends talk about sotol, are interested in all these fancy tequilas. If you live in Chicago, the place to learn more is Logan Square's Agave Triangle!

You make a $25 contribution to replant agave in rural Mexico.

You receive a receipt for your contribution.

You take that receipt to Masa Azul, Estereo, and Mezcaleria Las Flores.

Show your receipt at each of these fine establishments, and each will thank you with a sample of a different agave spirit!

To learn more and to make your contribution to the greenhouse project, visit

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