Courtesy pohto

You may have heard of, and perhaps even tried tequila, but it’s mezcal that takes center stage at a Santa Monica company.
Mezcal is tequila’s smoky, more mysterious cousin. It’s a Mexican liquor that is cooked inside earthen pits that are lined with lava rocks and filled with wood and charcoal before being distilled in clay pots and it’s the flagship tipple at Mezcal El Silencio, a Santa Monica based business founded in 2013.
Mezcal El Silencio decided to open in Santa Monica due to the connection Federico Lozano, the Los Angeles Market Manager has to the city.
“We live in West LA. Our kids go to school in Santa Monica. We spend so much time in the Santa Monica area and have become our community,” he said. “As such, we felt like headquartering our business anywhere else would not have been truly authentic to who we are.”
Lozano says the city of Santa Monica has welcomed the business with open arms and staff feels right at home.
“Santa Monica is incredibly relevant and is part of the company’s DNA. The incredible pride that everyone feels when saying that we have an office in Santa Monica, the flow of people that come in and out of the office on a daily basis, the walks or bike rides to El Silencio,” he said. “We have become fully integrated in this wonderful city.”
Mezcal El Silencio also does a lot of business with the community.
“If not for alignment of our brand visions, then simply for proximity. We eat at the Santa Monica restaurants, we work with local vendors and service providers, we collaborate with other Santa Monica-based companies and beyond. This area is truly ingrained into our day to day business operations,” Lozano said.
Lozano even credited the city of Santa Monica for helping the business move forward and survive the global pandemic. He pointed to the city’s location and famous stature.
“Santa Monica is a cultural focal point and a brand in and of itself. It is a Southern California hot spot that everyone knows and loves,” he said. “Deciding to launch in this city provided recognition and validation to the brand. From a motivational perspective, it just doesn’t get better than waking up every day and working here! The energy is incredible.”
Mezcal is very similar to tequila and it can be made from more than 30 varieties of agave. The most common varieties of agave used for mezcal are tobalá, tobaziche, tepeztate, arroqueño and espadín, which is the most common agave and accounts for up to 90% of mezcal.
He said patrons can enjoy the Mexican liquor experience in a number of ways, including by itself, in a cocktail and paired with authentic Mexican cuisine. Until recently, mezcal has been considered a very niche spirit, not widely known or understood but over the last eight years, the Santa Monica location has played a big part in further opening the door for mezcal in America. Today, mezcal is one of the fastest growing spirits according to Lozano.
The general process for mezcal production is integrated in various steps: harvesting and cutting agave, cooking, mashing, or milling to obtain agave juice rich in sugar, fermentation, first distillation, second distillation, cask maturation and finally the bottling. In contrast to tequila, mezcal fermentation is carried out using the whole mash from the agave heart, including the fibers.
The difference between mezcals, mainly in the flavor, comes from the different agave species used, which have many varieties of terpenes compounds, the fact that the agave leaves can be used in mezcal fermentation, the variations in the ripening stage of agave, the cooking of agave that can be in ground holes with burning wood and heated stones that produces furans and smoky volatiles and are retained in the agave, and some herbs or other natural materials can be added to enrich the volatile profile of mezcal.
Lozano also said mezcal is a drink for celebrating and something you take in slowly while enjoying.
“There is truly no spirit as layered and soulful as Mezcal. It is exquisite, it is delicious, it is mischievous, and it is healthy as far as spirits go. So one must appreciate all of this when drinking it. It is not a drink you shoot or blend into the background,” Lozano said. “It is something you savor and take in slowly as it will bring the best out of any circumstance surrounding you, celebration or otherwise. It is said that you don’t find Mezcal, Mezcal finds you. And when it does, you will rarely opt for another spirit.”
Customers can visit https://www.silencio.com/ for more information about their location and products.
daniel@smdp.com