The Sierra Norte Distillery Story
Sierra Norte distilling started with Master Distiller Douglas French’s passion to use different varieties of this ancient, flavorful Oaxacan corn to make a series of unique, outstanding whiskies. Each variety is distilled separately and matured in French Oak casks, so as to showcase its individual character and nuance.
Douglas French, Master Distiller
With 20+ years of Mezcal distilling under his belt, Doug French decided it was time to expand his craft and utilize his distilling equipment to its fullest capacity. Heirloom corn was a crop that could be grown annually and his love for whiskey led him to create the first Single Barrel Mexican Whiskey brand available in the US.
There are 8 regions in Oaxaca and they all join together in the capital, Oaxaca City. Doug French’s distillery is in San Agustin de las Juntas in the outskirts of the capital. This is where Sierra Norte Whiskey is distilled and matured into fine whiskey.
Doug coordinates with traditional farmers from various regions to plant and harvest the ancestral corn. Unfortunately for the traditional farmers in today’s world the dedication to sustaining the ancestral corns and farming is not competitive with GMO farming. So, the traditional heirloom corn, the people, and their culture are dying because they are not economically viable.
The ancestral corn is sold locally in the villages for making tortillas and tamales. As people leave the villages to immigrate north looking for jobs, the market for heirloom corn shrinks and the farmers also immigrate north looking for jobs.
Doug has developed a great corn whiskey recipe and production system. He buys the heirloom corn from the farmers at a fair price, so that they can earn a good wage and continue to live on their farms.
Sierra Norte Single Barrel Mexican Whiskey is sold in the Global market, where it competes with all the other fine and outstanding whiskies of the world. Ultimately, this income comes back to Oaxaca and the life cycle of sustainability is complete.