Make sure to support Oaxaca's local citizens by knowing the difference and finding a locally minded tour company.
Unless you speak fluent Spanish and are willing to invest hours of research, the best way to tour Oaxaca's mescal distilleries is to hire an experienced guide. If there were a better DIY way to do this, I would definitely recommend it, but the expertise of these tour operators cannot be underestimated: They are already familiar with the best small-scale mezcal distilleries; they will arrange all of the tour appointments (many mezcal distilleries do not maintain regular hours); they'll translate so you can connect with the distillers; and finally, they will help you avoid mezcal distilleries owned by out-of-state and international investors.
|Agave harvest worker at Lalocura Mescalaria [Photo: Mattie John Bamman]|
Here are the mezcal tour operators I recommend in Oaxaca, Mexico:
- Academic Tours of Oaxaca: I took a tour with Gabriel Sanchez Gutierrez in January 2018, and the man A) knows his stuff, B) is very professional, and C) is a ton of fun.
- Mezcal Educational Tours: This mezcal tour comes recommended by Susan Coss (co-founder Eat Real Festival) and Max Garrone (an experienced journalist) on their website, Mezcalistas.com.
- Las Bugambilias Tours: Owner Rene Cabrera Arroyo highlights family-owned mezcal distilleries on his website, and he is also recommended by two experienced travel writers, Hippie in Heels and Brooklyn Tropicali.