It’s a new calendar year and things are changing for mezcal. As we all hold our breath this Friday we do know a few things, and all of them have some impact on the mezcal world.
It’s never been so cheap to create a mezcal brand
There are more mezcal brands on the market in the United States than ever before. With the growing interest in the cocktail space and even the retail world, the business case is there and brands are being built to fill niches in the market. We routinely talk to distillers, brand creators, and others who are interested in creating or bringing a mezcal brand into the United States.
In Mexico there are even more brands, so many that it’s been difficult to even imagine what’s going on in the mezcalosphere. That points to one fascinating contradiction in our moment: The production is there, the business interest is there, arguably the consumer interest is also there. But there are some big questions. Read more
You know that with mezcal’s surging popularity Oaxaca is seeing lots of tourists who want to taste and learn about mezcal so you’d expect the town to boast some of the world’s best mezcalerias. That’s true in resplendent variety. There’s Mezcaloteca’s very structured tasting environment. In Situ’s rough and ready bar. Txalaparta’s mezcaleria within a hookah bar. Amantes’ old time store front replete with resident guitarist. And then there are all the restaurants that feature great mezcal selections. We could go on, just check our Where to Drink Mezcal in Oaxaca for a great guide. Here’s our latest updated map. Read more
Rays of sunlight in the struggle for sustainability?
We all knew that the big liquor companies were coming to mezcal. Zignum, Beneva, and others have been around for a while but the really big distributors like Diageo jumped into the game last year, signing a distribution deal with Mezcal Union, while Pernod Ricard sounds like it’s launching a mezcal in the next few months. Read more
In the dead of summer when the rest of us were at the beach, the Guelaguetza, or sundry other trips the CRM released a new web site at mezcal.com. They were so quiet about it that we only really noticed last month. The site is completely redesigned to be much more consumer friendly, the old CRM site remains its old stodgy self while mezcal.com is building a bridge to the people that drink mezcal around the world. Read more
A post from our Chicago partner Lou Bank, who we first met in Oaxaca over mezcal, of course.
Lisa Nelson is a fourth-generation farm owner in rural Wisconsin. When she took over the family farm, she knew she wanted to do something that leveraged the heritage of her farm, but did so in a unique way. “Farming is a hard enough business,” Lisa said. “It’s harder still if you don’t have a way to differentiate yourself.” Her point of differentiation is one that piques both interest and appetite: she uses the bounty of her farm to make artisanal chocolates.
The terroir of Lisa’s farm is displayed in the over 40 fruits, vegetables, herbs, and honey she infuses into the treats she releases as Roots Chocolates. But she doesn’t stop there: She has also established partnerships — what she calls “cho-lab-ah-ray-shons” — with other farm-related businesses. And that’s where this suddenly becomes a topic of special interest to readers of Mezcalistas. Read more
The latest in Craft Distillers’ Mezcalero line which delivers extremely small production batches from a variety of locations around Oaxaca.
– Location: San Baltazar Guélavila
– Agave: Cultivated espadín and agave de lumbre
– Maestro Mescalero: Cirilo Hernández
– Quantity: 184 cases / 1104 bottles
– Distillation Date: March 2014
– Bottled: June 2015.
– ABV: 48%
– NOM: O14X
These are the sort of one off distillations that used to define mezcal so this series is something of a relic of another era and testament to all the riches that remain. As I’ve said before, the mere existence of Mezcalero is fantastic, the fact that they continue to produce such high quality mezcals so consistently is even better. Read more
Don Lorenzo with his daughter Graciela Angeles
We are tremendously sad to hear the news that Don Lorenzo Angeles, the patriarch of the Angeles family which is responsible for Real Minero Mezcal, has died of lung cancer. Anyone who met him can vouch that he was a fantastic human being and a link to a different era of Mexico and mezcal. He raised an incredible family which now operates Real Minero, the quality of their mezcal and the ethics they bring to the operation speak clearly to his own high standards. But more than anything their humanity speaks volumes about who he was. Always welcoming to visitors, working in the fields with his workers until very recently, in Yiddish terms he was a true mensch.
As word has filtered out through the mezcal community here in the U.S., folks have taken to Facebook to express their sadness. Pretty much anyone in the bar industry who has traveled to Oaxaca crossed paths with Don Lorenzo over the years, if not in Santa Catarina Minas, then certainly at the El Pochote Mercado where he could be found sampling and selling his bottles, always, always with a huge smile on his face that you wanted to crawl into.
Our world is smaller without him.
We send our condolences and best wishes to his family.
Since its premiere at Mezcal: Mexico in a Bottle 2014 Raicilla Venenosa has been a constant presence at better mezcalerias. It was the first racilla legally imported into the United States and was only recently joined by a second. The distinctive flavors of this other Jaliscan mezcal are well worth seeking out.
– Location: Mascota, Jalisco.
– Agave: Agave maximiliana.
– Maestro Mezcalero: Don Ruben Peña Fuentes
– Quantity: 800 bottles
– Distillation Date: April 2014
– ABV: 42%
Esteban Morales really brought raicilla to the United States and we’re all the richer for his work with Arik Torren to make that happen because raicilla is so different from other mezcals – once you try it you’ll instantly understand why it deserves its own category. Read more
It’s been weeks since Mezcal Week but we’re still living off the fumes. We had so many awesome events spread across the world that we’re in awe of all the creative ideas and fun times – all in the name of mezcal. Things went so well that we’re already setting up Mezcal Week 2017 November 5-12 culminating in Mezcal: Mexico in a Bottle San Francisco on November 12th.
From Australia to New York, Seattle to Oaxaca, it was quite a celebration of all things mezcal, and a truly visual representation of how widespread the mezcal scene is now. Here are just five examples of all the cool stuff that happened during the week. We’ll be archiving the 2016 site pretty soon so all of this will be available through a link there – but the main thrust of the site will be on 2017 starting in January.
The Los Nahuales Special Edition No. 1 is the first and, hopefully only the first, in a series of special editions from one of the longest standing and most prominent mezcal brands in the United States.
– Location: Santiago Matatlán
– Agave: 41.3% wild cuishe Agave karwinskii and 58.7% Sierrudo, a type of Agave americano.
– Maestro Mezcalero: Karina Abad
– Quantity: 1520 bottles. The majority only available through K&L Wines. 720 bottles are distributed by Craft Distillers
– Distillation Date: April/May 2015
– ABV: 48%
– NOM: O14X
This is the fruit of another of those mezcal world happenstances. While hanging out at Marco Polo with Karina Abad who manages Los Danzantes’ entire production Ansley Coale and K&L Wines’ David Driscoll cooked up the idea of Karina doing a batch all on her own. The rest is in the bottle but you can get a portion of the foreshadowing and narrative in Driscoll’s blogging about that trip. Read more