How Mexico City Celebrates Día de los Muertos

In Mexico City, a woman wears the traditional makeup of La Catrina during the 2023 celebrations.

Photo: Luis Gutierrez/Norte Photo/Getty Images

During Día de los Muertos and often in the days leading up to the first of November, bakeries churn out scores of pan de muerto. The sweet bread, arranged on the ofrendas, embodies the holiday in the symbolic shapes and flavors incorporated into its making. Renowned chef Elena Reygadas, whose Mexico City bakery Panadería Rosetta turns out quite a bit of the treat to meet demand over the holiday, explains that the shapes crafted on the classic pan de muerto symbolize the bones of the dead, whereas the circular shape of the bread base itself gestures to the tomb of the dead. A sugary black coating on one variety of pan de muerto that Reygadas prepares represents ash.

Pan de muerto is traditionally flavored with orange blossom.

Photo: Photo by Gerardo Vieyra/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Pan de muerto covered in a sweet black coating for an ashen look

Photo: Gerardo Vieyra/NurPhoto via Getty Images

When Diane Stuart—whisky maker for the Scottish distiller Macallan (founded in 1824)—was tasked with capturing the style and flavor of Mexico City for the brand’s latest whisky, she knew pan de muerto would be a key element to fold in. The team focused on Mexico City’s Día de los Muertos celebrations in creating their Distil Your World Mexico whisky, announcing the limited edition offering in time for the holiday.

The whisky is housed in a white presentation box. Inside the packaging is an illustration by Alfredo Ríos, an artist who specializes in depicting nature and Mexican folklore.

Photo: Courtesy of The Macallan

“[We wanted to] deliver captivating nuances of sugared pan de muerto bread, creamy vanilla, and sweet pineapple,” Stuart tells AD.

She also incorporated the marigold, the traditional bloom of Día de los Muertos. Garcia explains that the marigold is used in the ofrendas to “decorate and aromatize the place during the soul’s stay.” Marigolds, she says, trace the routes that the souls follow. Stuart understood the flowers to be a crucial part of the festivities, warranting a nod in the new whisky. “We aimed to capture the vibrant hue of the marigold in the natural color of the whisky as well as an element of fragrance within the whisky flavor,” she says.

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