Siete Misterios Doba Yej Mezcal: The Ultimate Bottle Guide

The current boom of agave spirits in the United States is in full swing. Both tequila and mezcal are more available in bars, and used by bartenders more than ever. American consumers are estimated to make Mexican exports the highest-selling spirits in the country. According to Bloomberg, tequila and mezcal sales in the U.S. surpassed that of whiskey in 2022 and, by the end of 2023, they are expected to exceed vodka, the country's longstanding most popular spirit.

Although both are agave-based spirits, mezcal and tequila have many differences including the type of agave they are made from, how they are made, and their flavor profiles. While tequila has certainly benefited from the current cocktail renaissance, mezcal was essentially unknown to Americans. Many of the brands you find in liquor stores today have been around for decades and are made through small-scale, family-owned operations using methods passed down through generations. Mezcal has a rich history, and Siete Misterios is honoring that through a dedication to quality for the production of ancestral and artisanal mezcal categories.

It is Siete Misterios' signature bottle, Doba-Yej, that encapsulates the art of mezcal-making in its most fundamental form. Bartenders are coming up with mezcal cocktails more than ever, and there are many reasons Siete Misterios Doba-Yej is one of the first bottles bartenders reach for. It's straightforward, complex, affordable, and made by experts in the craft. Here is everything you need to know about Siete Misterios Doba-Yej mezcal.

History of Siete Misterios

Siete Misterios was founded in 2011 by brothers and native Mexicans, Eduardo and Julio Mestre. The brand story describes the brothers had wanted to produce mezcal that was a direct representation of their home country, and the Mestre brothers ventured out to learn as much as they possibly could. Eduardo and Julio began their mezcal journey by sampling styles from different Oaxacan villages. Oaxaca is the state of Mexico with the highest amount of mezcal production. In fact, according to TripSavvy, Oaxaca is the best place in Mexico to make mezcal because it is the most biodiverse state in regards to the agave plant.

Consequently, there are plenty of Oaxacan mezcal producers, led by master distillers or maestro mezcaleros, many of whom the Mestre's sought guidance from for their new brand. The producers say that their overall goal is not only to make great mezcal but to retain the traditions and methods that have fueled the craft for centuries.

This meant farming and harvesting the highest quality agave possible, cooking that agave in underground pits, milling the roasted agave with wooden mallets, and distilling its extracted juice in clay pots  that have been sculpted by hand. Despite being around for just over a decade, Siete Misterios promotes a dedication to ancestral methods, resulting in mezcal that has gained a reputation for accomplishing its goal of bottling Mexico's greatest qualities.

The difference between mezcal and tequila

As mentioned earlier, mezcal and tequila do share similarities such as their home country, significance to Mexican culture, and the plant they are made from. However, mezcal and tequila are actually quite different. First off, tequila can only be legally made from one of the species of agave, which is blue Weber agave. Mezcal, on the other hand, can be made from any of the hundreds of different species of agave, each of which provides a different flavor profile.

Another key difference is how tequila and mezcal are actually produced. Both spirits require the harvest and coring of the agave, which includes removing its leaves and exposing the core, or piña. Where the piñas used for tequila are cooked in an oven before being pressed, to make mezcal the agave cores are roasted in an earthen pit, infusing them with smoke. 

Tequila and mezcal are very different spirits and are by no means interchangeable. The wider categorization of mezcal production makes for more unique products that can vary based on where the plants are harvested, the type of agave used, and who is in charge of doing so. 

Each Siete Misterios bottle features Mexican war heroes

Siete Misterios prides itself on showcasing Mexican heritage and that is achieved beyond what is inside the bottle. Yes, the mezcal itself is a product of some of the best resources Mexico has to offer, but the art of each bottle of Doba-Yej portrays one of three Mexican historical figures as well.

Doba-Yej bottles feature either Doña Josefa Ortiz, Father Miguel Hidalgo, or José María Morelos. Ortiz played a vital role at the beginning of the Mexican War for Independence. On September 13, 1810, Ortiz transferred the message that warned Mexican revolutionaries of Spain's knowledge about their plan of insurgence (via Inside Mexico). The note was given to Father Miguel Hidalgo, who, as the initial leader of the revolution, decided to move the date of the plan up to weeks to September 16. Without these two figures, it's believed that the fight for Mexico's independence from Spain would've been squandered before it even began.

As for José María Morelos, he was a Roman Catholic priest who became a leader of the Mexican Independence Movement following the execution of fellow revolutionary Hidalgo, per Britannica

Bars competed in a Siete Misterios cocktail menu contest

The Siete Misterios mezcal brand is many bartenders' go-to mezcal because of its straightforwardness, price, and overall quality. Siete Misterios Doba-Yej may be the brand's flagship bottle, but the brand does make a full lineup of the spirit. The brand challenged bartenders around the world to help curate the best Siete Misterios cocktail menu possible.

According to a press release from World's 50 Best Bars, which sponsored the contest and is an official partner of Siete Misterios, there were over 230 applicants across the globe that entered the 2022 competition. The winning cocktail menu was determined based on multiple factors, such as design, layout, and building a narrative through innovation and presentation. After a thorough evaluation of all of the submitted menus, the winner was determined to be a bar in Guayaquil, Ecuador, called Juliana, which checked every box: The design of the menu (said to be minimalist and to the point) dedicated to an entire page to each drink; below a drawing of the cocktail included a description of each component including its flavor profile, history, ingredients, and cultural significance.

As for the actual cocktails themselves, they are a representation of the beauty in simplicity. In an era that has spawned mezcal-based modern classics like the Oaxacan Old Fashioned and Division Bell, Juliana's menu is not only symbolic of mixology theory but also of the mezcal used to make it.

Partnership with Michter's Distillery

As mezcal's popularity grows more and more in the United States, one classic American booze brand has taken advantage. Since its establishment in 2010, Siete Misterios' small-scale operation has grown into 25 markets worldwide, according to Drinks International. What is more impressive, however, is that the brand was able to do so without any external investment. Co-founder Eduardo Mestre tells the site that for the first decade of the brand's operation, all funding for production, distribution, marketing, and other costs came from his and his brother's savings. As demand for the brand's mezcals grew more and more, the brothers realized they wanted a partnership beyond simply financial funding. 

Luckily, Drinks International reports Chatham Imports, the parent company of Michter's Distillery, noticed the opportunity to step in and offer monetary help in addition to industry guidance. Michter's is an American whiskey brand and has been producing high-end bourbons and ryes since 1753. It's also one of the oldest, most highly acclaimed American whiskey brands on the market and is a powerhouse in the spirits industry.

In 2021, Siete Misteros entered a 50/50 partnership with Chatham to reach a larger production scale. Despite the big change, the quality doesn't seem to have affected the mezcal; there is simply more of it to go around.

How is Doba-Yej made?

Every one of Siete Misterios' mezcals starts with agave. The plants take a long time to reach the right maturation, however, and Siete Misterios claims to use only fully matured agave plants. Doba-Yej is the ancient Zapotec word for agave espadín, a plant species used to make this mezcal and the most popular agave for mezcal in general. Once the espadín starts producing its stem, which can take over seven years, it is time to harvest.

After the espadín piñas are exposed, they are cooked in an underground pit that is said to be fueled by locally sourced wood. The piñas are covered with soil, stones, and plants to enclose the smoke of the three to five-day roasting period. Once the pinas are cooked and removed from the pit, the agave cores are either crushed with a wooden mallet or in a Chilean Tahona mill pulled by a horse. Then, the extracted juice is fermented naturally by the climate and wild yeast with nothing added besides water.

When the fermented liquid is ready for distillation, Siete Misterios ancestral mezcals are distilled in clay pot stills (required by regulations for ancestral mezcal to receive the designation). Doba-Yej is distilled in copper pot stills, as are all of the brand's mezcals in the "artisanal" category. The crystal clear Doba-Yej is distilled twice to bring the alcohol content up to 45% before finally being bottled and distributed for your enjoyment.

What does Doba-Yej taste like?

Siete Misterios Doba-Yej's main flavor profile comes from the agave, which needs to be harvested within the perfect window of its maturity. If the agave is too young, it will lack flavor; if it grows too old, the plant quickly begins to die, losing the character it has accumulated. Since the espadín is said to be harvested right at its peak, the flavor is in full bloom in Doba-Yej. The espadín plant is the most popular agave for mezcal because its sugar content is much higher than other species, according to Inside Hook, which translates to a sweeter, smoother mezcal that is bright and mellow when grown in the right locations.

Another key aspect of Doba-Yej's flavor profile is its smokiness, the signature trait of any mezcal. The earthen pit in which the espadín is roasted provides a flavor that is comparable to the smoke and peat of an Islay Scotch whisky. The infusion from the smoked wood and soil penetrates the agave deeply to accumulate a sucker punch of flavor that is then tamed and leveled by the plant's natural sweetness. The double distillation makes for a crystal clear mezcal that is clean in appearance yet complex in taste. The layers upon layers of flavor all provide different notes for your palate.

How to drink Doba-Yej?

A mezcal as expertly crafted as Doba-Yej is smooth enough to sip on its own, and its flavor is so robust and complex that sipping it neat is truly the most fundamental way to enjoy it. Mezcal producers like Siete Misterios make products like its Doba-Yej to be enjoyed by consumers, plain and simple. If you have never had mezcal, however, here is how you can be introduced to Doba-Yej in the best way possible.

The aromas of Doba-Yej are essential to its flavor profile, so sipping the mezcal neat from a glass like a copita will allow you to take in the aromatics with every sip. Additionally, mezcal cocktails are popping up in bars all over the country, and there are plenty you can make with Doba-Yej right at home. Siete Misterios markets its Doba-Yej as a great mezcal for mixing.

Drinks like the Oaxacan old fashioned, naked and famous, or medicina Latina are modern classics that feature this smoky spirit. You can also swap mezcal into a drink that does not usually contain it. Mezcal margaritas, mezcal palomas, and mezcal mules are some examples of reinventing a drink you have had plenty of times before with this new discovery. Again, Siete Misterios Doba-Yej is meant to be enjoyed without restrictions.

The cost of Doba-Yej mezcal

One of Siete Misterios Doba-Yej's best qualities is that you do not have to break the bank to enjoy some at a bar or add a bottle to your bar cart at home. According to Wine Searcher, the average price of a bottle of Siete Misterios Dona-Yej is $41, as of this publication. A single bottle of liquor costing more than $40 is definitely above average, but it must be remembered that mezcals are imported into the U.S.; therefore, they will naturally cost more than the average domestically produced spirits like bourbon, for example, which can be bought for well under $30. Still, Siete Misterios Doba-Yej remains one of the most affordable and competitively priced mezcals on the market.

In an era where mezcal's popularity is increasing exponentially, spending the money for a quality bottle is well worth it due to its versatility. Again, you will be hard-pressed to find a quality mezcal at a cheaper price. If you do decide to go for a bottle of Doba-Yej, you can rest assured you will purchase a great bottle of mezcal.

Siete Misterios Doba-Yej vs Del Maguey Vida

Of all of the mezcals now on the market competing with Siete Misterios Doba-Yej, Del Maguey Vida is one of the most comparable. Del Maguey produces over a dozen different mezcals of a variety of ages, but its Vida mezcal is the most fundamental expression, produced in the village of San Luis Del Rio in Oaxaca.

Just like Siete Misterios Doba-Yej, Del Maguey Vida is an ancestral mezcal, an official designation for the spirit, meaning it is twice-distilled in copper pot stills and is also made from espadín agave. It is also naturally fermented and made in the state of Oaxaca, which makes for a very similar flavor profile. This particular mezcal is produced the main difference between the two bottles is that Del Maguey Vida has a slightly lower ABV of 42%, so while it may not pack the same punch as Doba-Yej, it does have a slightly mellower character.

As for price, Del Maguey Vida can be purchased for an average of $39, per Wine-Searcher. So, depending on where you are shopping, there really is no significant difference between the two bottles in terms of cost. All in all, both are excellent, well-crafted bottles of mezcal, and if you find that you like Siete Misterios Doba-Yej, you are sure to like Del Maguey Vida as well.