There are few places in the world where you can try hundreds of agave spirits side by side. One of those places is DARDO (Destilados ARtisenales De Origen), a festival celebrating mezcal and the wide world of agave distillates including sotol, bacanora, and raicilla. This year, the festival was held in March in Mexico City. We had been planning a trip Mexico, and after hearing about this festival the Agave Society founders decided to take the trip and check it out.
DARDO is sponsored by COMANDO, a network of small producers that promotes artisanal agave spirits, including over 100 producers in 18 Mexican states. After a successful run in 2011, DARDO was back in 2013 with numerous distillers offering samples of their products, in addition to a “cultural information zone” with videos and presentations and a agave spirit cocktail competition.
After a whirlwind tour through Oaxaca before arriving in Mexico City, we had thought the mezcal tasting highlights were behind us. But with so many different categories and producers, it was impossible not to find new favorites.
We’re both big-time mezcal fans, but we’re still working on our spanish. Fortunately “¿puedo probar?” was good enough to get by. We tried some mezcals that weren’t available in the United States, like Rio Revuelto and Alma Mezcalera. We sampled unique agave spirits, like La Venenosa Raicilla and Cielo Rojo Bacanora. We met mezcal producers who told fascinating stories about what goes in the bottle, like Mezcal Union and Koch Mezcal. In addition to tasting, we were also able to meet some of the rock stars of the mezcal world like La Nina Del Mezcal and Vancouver Guero.
DARDO was certainly a highlight of our trip, and we can’t wait until next year to return.