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What happens when you drink mezcal? The answer, it seems, depends on what you drink – and who you drink with it.
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Long known as one of Mexico’s national drinks, mezcal is also having a moment in this part of the Americas, with cocktail bars and casual cocktail carts stocking up on agave-based spirits. Among the leaders of this new mezcal movement is El Silencio, an Oaxaca-based brand reshaping the way the traditional spirit is enjoyed – and experimented.
Related: The best brands of mezcal to drink right now
While the brand is best known for its bold expression of Espadín (in a matching bold black bottle, of course), El Silencio has branched out in recent years to curate entire experiences for its customers and fans, opening a hotel six-bedroom luxury home. last summer at the site of their distillery outside of Oaxaca, then welcoming guests to the property in November for a dazzling all-night party to ring in the new space (and perhaps also to celebrate the easing of Covid restrictions in Mexico).
For founders Vicente Cisneros and Fausto Zapata, the hotel and the event (nicknamed “Umbra”, after a word used to describe shadows in the dark) are part of their original vision to make El Silencio a brand that celebrates and amplifies culture, both in its local Mexican community and around the world.
This fall, Umbra returns for a second installation, with an immersive 12-hour art and music event that once again takes place on the legendary grounds of Casa Silencio. Tentatively scheduled for November, the event will feature artists, dancers and musicians spread across the 16-acre property, while guests roam and explore at their leisure. Interactive performances (think magicians and immersive theatrics) will punctuate the night, while a roster of classical instrumentalists and world-class DJs promise to keep the party going late into the morning.
Of course, this being El Silencio, expect the mezcal to be smooth and plentiful; the brand also enlists top chefs from across Mexico to curate a series of small dishes and cooking sets to keep guests well fed.
The entire event takes place against the backdrop of the so-called “Valley of Silence”, a panoramic and scenic perch of rolling hills and agave fields, which will also serve as a natural canvas for a larger light show. than nature and late night fireworks.
While the first iteration of Umbra was limited to friends and family, El Silencio is opening this year’s event to ticketed guests, with exact pricing and availability to be announced soon. After two years of quarantine and social distancing, the brand says it’s excited to once again create real-life experiences and welcome guests back with a drink or two.
“Spirits are meant to bring people together,” says Zapata rolling stone. “That’s why they were created [and] why they exist.
While Zapata admits that “Umbra is hard to put into words,” he says the goal is to take the soul and spirit of the brand’s mezcal and translate it into physical form. “Umbra is a culmination of music, art and performance wrapped in a surreal setting, which materializes all the elements of magic and madness that define El Silencio,” he explains. “We have created a one-of-a-kind experience, transporting customers directly into the world of El Silencio.”
While Umbra is poised to be a cornerstone for El Silencio (Zapata confirms he hopes to make it an annual event), the brand isn’t resting on its laurels when it comes to what’s going on. made famous in the first place: making high-end, high-quality mezcal.
To wit: El Silencio is launching a new premium phrase, aptly titled “Rare,” in conjunction with the event. As Zapata explains, Rare is really just that: a mezcal made from a proprietary blend of wild agaves that isn’t traditionally grown, but rather sought or found. Developed at the brand’s distillery in Casa Silencio, the agaves that make up the expression are cooked in a concave stone oven, ground by El Silencio’s innovative “tahona” stone wheel, then fermented in oak vats and double distilled copper. stills on site. The liquid is then rested for a year in the glass before being bottled to sweeten.
While mezcal is often defined by its smoke, El Silencio says Rare will deliver a more “elegant” palate, with what the brand describes as “a smooth range of wild agave flavors that turn into an explosion of fruit, spices and floral notes on the end.” The limited edition version will be presented in a beautiful black glass bottle and will only be available in certain markets.
For Zapata, the new expression showcases the same passion and meticulous attention to detail that characterizes Umbra curating, underscoring El Silencio’s ultimate goal of connecting the product to people in a whole new way.
“El Silencio is an experience that begins with the quality of our artisanal product,” says Zapata. “Since our creation, we have cultivated a culture, a way of life and a history far beyond our mezcal that will never stop being written. We want people to be part of this story and to be willing to share it with others. Our intention is for El Silencio to be enjoyed holistically as a spirit of craftsmanship and for the experiences we create to inspire a sense of curiosity in consumers, always wondering what’s next on the horizon.
And while Zapata admits the lack of social interaction during the pandemic “has left a void for all of us”, he says he’s been pleased with the number of people asking about Umbra, which shows that people are ready to be together again. “It’s so refreshing to see people remembering how interconnected we really are,” he shares. “Seeing people embrace this now more than ever, fuels everything we do. It’s the best feeling in the world because it’s ultimately our reason for being.
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