Maestro Rufino Felipe Martinez or "Tío Rufis" as they say in his native Santa Catarina Minas, Oaxaca. Always characterized by a cigar in hand, he has smoked all his life, but as he himself tells us, he has never been ill thanks to his life in the country and his physical activity; this is demonstrated by his muscular arms that he has acquired through many years in grinding maguey by hand with wooden mallets.

With more than 50 years maintaining the tradition, he learned the profession of Master mezcalero from an early age, since he began to support his father in the production of mezcal at the age of 12, since his father liked to raise his elbow with the bottle of mezcal, as he himself tells us. He prefers the artisanal quality of mezcal and makes a comparison with the kitchen: "a sauce ground in molcajete is tastier than a sauce in a blender," he tells us.

Tío Rufis also tells us that he witnessed the harassment and corruption of prosecutors in the 1960s and the repression of small producers, prosecutors poured gasoline into the fermentation vats, broke the clay pots, ruined everything; for this reason, many mezcaleros went to the mountains to produce mezcal “clandestinely”. Currently he works various magueys such as Serrudo (agave americana), Espadín (agave angustifolia), Tobala (agave potatorum), Barril (agave karwinskii), Arroqueño (agave americana var. Oaxacensis) among others. He is satisfied with his work in the fields and the production of mezcal why he helped his family.

In 2015 he was recognized at the state meeting of teachers of mezcal as Dean of Mezcal for his more than 50 years maintaining the mezcal tradition in clay pots and as a treasure of mezcal in 2018 by the mezcal regulatory council.

If you visit Santa Catarina Minas, don't forget to visit Maestro Rufino!