by Santiago Espinosa de los Monteros, Co-Founder of El Mero Mero Mezcal
Hidelberta Martínez Hipólito is the Maestra Mezcalera at El Mero Mero Mezcal. She was born in San Dionisio Ocotepec, Oaxaca, among producers of mezcal, agaves, ovens, ferments, and distillations. Her father is also a Maestro Mezcalero. She learned to make mezcal by seeing the daily work at the distillery and supporting ex-husband Justino García Cruz. She learned through empirical knowledge, by word of mouth and from technique passed from generation to generation.
Hidelberta is a woman who really enjoys her work. She puts a lot of energy and enthusiasm into everything she does – Hidelberta is very careful with each of the processes and very particular about the final results. With her vast depth of knowledge on mezcal, she began taking more responsibility at the Palenque four years ago, and little by little she has become the producer of our mezcal, supported by her young children and the workers who have accompanied her. Taking over the day to day operations from Justino, she is now fully in charge of the palenque: the purchase of the agave, the cooking, the distillation and every aspect of production.
Beyond her work at the Palenque, Hidelberta is a family woman who enjoys being with her children and grandchildren. Family life occupies a large part of leisure and work time. She is always taking care of her elderly parents, whom she takes to the doctor and helps with things that they can no longer do due to their age.
Food is an essential element of culture in Oaxaca - Hidelberta's food, like that of most of the people in her community, is made up of tortillas, chili, chicken, meat and vegetables. When there are parties there is mole produced by one of the hosts – they kill a pig, a cow or a goat, and good amounts of mezcal are never lacking during the several days that the festivities last. Social life in San Dionisio Octopec is always bustling – there are many festivities: religious celebrations, baptisms, weddings and other traditional celebrations.
The flavors of El Mero Mero reflect the vibrancy of life in San Dionisio Octopec as well as Hidelberta’s involvement in the community and passion for cooking. El Mero Mero is a mezcal made by the people of Oaxaca, for the people of Oaxaca.