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Country of Origin: Mexico
Location: Santiago Matatlán, Oaxaca
People: Arik Torren & Amy Hardy, Owners | Enrique Jiménez, Mezcalero
Viticulture: Practicing Biodynamic
The Fidencio story has two parts: 1) the history of Fabrica de Mezcal del Amigo and the Jiménez family and 2) the founding of Fidencio Spirits.
Fabrica de Mezcal del Amigo
Fabrica de Mezcal del Amigo is the name of the distillery that produces Fidencio Mezcal. Fidencio Jiménez, the namesake for Fidencio Mezcal, started making mezcal over 100 years ago when he moved to Santiago Matatlán, Oaxaca. His life as a mezcalero was one of trial-and-error, learning from peers and mistakes. In those days, the equipment was formed from the land: clay pots for fermentation/distillation and storage and river reeds for tubing. Fidencio and his son Enrique worked closely to perfect their craft and to pass down their knowledge to the next generation.
When Isaac Jiménez, Fidencio's grandson, became the mezcalero, there were a number of technological improvements that were adopted. In the 1930s the introduction of copper greatly improved the efficiency and safety of the still. In 1943 the Pan-American Highway came through Oaxaca and left its mark on the region; transportation became faster and cheaper. Around this time, oak barrels replaced clay pots for storage. This resulted in the second major impact of this time: aging. In those days, a batch of mezcal was loaded on a truck and sold, town-by-town, sometimes taking months to sell through a batch. As the mezcal spent time in the oak barrels, it took on additional, tasty characteristics.
In the 1950s, business was good and profits were used to buy land and expand the agave fields. This allowed total control of quality and production. By the 1980s, the Jiménez family was aging, bottling and exporting mezcal. The torch was then passed to the fourth generation of Jiménez mezcaleros, brothers Octavio and Enrique. While learning the craft throughout his youth, Enrique left to attend university in Oaxaca. He graduated with a degree in industrial chemical engineering. Enrique could not resist the call of his roots and returned to the family business, but not without many new ideas. In 1993 Octavio and Enrique began bottling under their brand Mezcal del Maestro.
Enrique, always the innovator, dreamed of a mezcal that was the purest expression of Espadín. In 2006, Enrique branched out on his own and began construction of a new distillery and a dream: Fabrica de Mezcal del Amigo. This new distillery was designed from top to bottom by Enrique and incorporates all the features found in traditional mezcal distilleries—all except one, the radiant heat oven found in tequila distilleries. This oven is the first of its kind in Oaxaca and is the defining force behind the creation of Fidencio Unico (Sin Humo). Today, Enrique Jiménez brings generations of knowledge and tradition to Fidencio Mezcal as well as his own label Del Amigo. Under his stewardship, the family also biodynamically farms much of their agave (Espadín is 100% estate) used in the mezcal production.
Fidencio Spirits founders, Amy Hardy and Arik Torren, met ten years ago tending the bar of one of NYC's great restaurants. They shared a passion for wine and food and became fast friends. A few years later Amy was traveling through Puerto Escondido, Oaxaca and came across Villas Carrizalillo, a beachside hotel that was in disrepair. Since then Amy and her partner, Edward Mitchell, have transformed "The Villas" into one of the finest hotels on the Oaxacan Coast.
During the summer of 2007, Amy and Arik took a trip to Oaxaca City to taste and learn more about mezcal. During this incredible experience, they were bitten by the mezcal bug. Through friends of Amy, they had the good fortune to be introduced to Enrique, who was still building out his new distillery. Amy and Arik knew that this was the right fit and decided to pursue a partnership with Enrique before the first drop of Fidencio was made. Edward was on board as the angel investor. So, with a hunch and a handshake, Fidencio Mezcal was born.
Punch: The Best Mezcals Under $50
Men's Journal: 15 Best Mezcals to Buy Now
Serious Eats: The Serious Eats Guide to Mezcal
Serious Eats: Meet & Drink: Arik Torren, Fidencio
Liquor.com: The Best Mezcals for $40 or Less
Instagram: @fidencio.mezcal, @fidencio.spirits, @ariktorren