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The old world exceeds the new when it comes to mezcal

Mezcal DerrumbesLately I’ve noticed a mini-trend, lots of new mezcals are appearing in Europe either before they come to the U.S. or perhaps even without consideration of the U.S. market. When I talked to Esteban Morales earlier this summer he made it clear that his Mezcal Derrumbes would have a place in the U.S. soon but would get to Europe first because it was easier to release it there first. Sure enough, you can now order it through the UK and they’ll even ship to the U.S.

But that’s just the beginning of something that may be a trend because once I started poking around I found at least a small cluster of mezcals available in the UK but not the U.S. including:

Granted, some of these may be rebottlings, some of this is definitely just the great fruit of international variety. Perhaps someone will pop up and tell us what’s going on.

As I noted above some of the ecommerce places in the UK offer these awesome mini bottles that you can rarely find here. Here’s one for Patron. This is exactly the sort of thing that people want because they would love to taste before buying an entire bottle. It’s the same factor driving the half or one-and-a-half ounce pours in bars and restaurants. Cuish offers a bundle in Oaxaca that look like this:

Cuish mini-bottles

The next best thing is the St. George Spirits‘ 500ml three pack of their gins. Now that’s something I’d love to see for mezcal lines so that they’d be more affordable. I bet plenty of people would go for that as a gift.

Which is another way of saying, perhaps the UK has something on us…

Anyone out there in the mezcal world want to step up and explain why this is happening or is it as simple as restrictive American liquor laws?

 

 

The new axis in distilling

Who knew that a secret axis runs through the globe connecting Italy and Mexico? I always suspected that grappa and mezcal had plenty in common. This great interview from the excellent wine blog Hawk Wakawaka with Giannola Nonino who, along with her daughters, has really made Nonino Grappa what it is today. The interview makes it clear that grappa and small producers like the Nonino family have much in common with many mezcaleros. It starts with the family, check out this cool illustration of the Nonino family tree and this history, because families tend to maintain product values rather than industrializing them. It extends right through all the critical elements in craft distilling, carving out a brand in marketplaces that have never encountered your product, working with the right distributors, innovating, and maintaining your values. The fact that Nonino is one of the most prized and well known grappa brands speaks well to those points and provides a great example for the mezcal world.

Mezcalerías in Oaxaca flourish in quantity and diversity

To the barricades!

The Pastry War‘s Bobby Heugel issues a stirring call to bartenders, and pretty much anyone who enjoys the distilled fruit of agave, to get with the program and at least engage with the big questions in the industry. That is, how do you create a sustainable market place for a product whose lifespan is measured against the decade rather than an annual crop? God knows we’ve talked about this ad nauseam in blog posts and most recently at panels for our Mezcal: Mexico in a Bottle event but Bobby has a great idea here about creating a space for a conversation.

When god gives you mezcal sayings…

Sometimes you just have to bring them to light. We all know ‘para todo mal… ‘ but have you heard of this one?

“El trago de mezcal, como lo senos de las mujeres, uno es insuficiente, tres son demasiados.”

A snippet from the box accompanying Mezcal de Ziranguio.

A snippet from the box accompanying Mezcal de Ziranguio.

That appeared seemingly out of nowhere on the box encasing a bottle of Mezcal de Ziranguio. The text runs over three sides of the box and I give them full credit for working in that novelty, Edgar Allen Poe, and much more. As for the mezcal, well, this is one that may be better left in the bottle. It came to me through a fellow aficionado who thought that it might look better against my bar than hidden away in his closet.

 

Putting the mezcal back in the bottle

We had quite a crowd of aficionados at the first Mezcal: Mexico in a Bottle. Photo Michael Skrzypek

We had quite a crowd of aficionados at the first Mezcal: Mexico in a Bottle. Photo Michael Skrzypek

No, not really, what was tasted is already gone but we’ve received a bunch of questions about our tasting over the past week so a few quick responses are in order about which mezcals are on the market, where to get items, and our future plans. First up we have to thank Ken Taylor for writing such a great wrap up of the event for the San Francisco Bay Guardian, he really captured the scene. We learned quite a bit from his piece because we were all so busy coordinating things so definitely give it a read. We’re already planning next year’s event so if you have feedback or ideas, we’re all ears!

Two limited edition mezcales new from Wahaka the fall of 2014. The Espadín Manzanita and Espadín Botaniko.

Two limited edition mezcales new from Wahaka the fall of 2014. The Espadín Manzanita and Espadín Botaniko.

New Mezcals

We are proud that we were able to present so many new mezcals but working out the kinks in distribution and certification mean that you won’t see most of them in your local liquor store for a bit. We will definitely tell you when any of the following mezcals come to market so stay tuned. Here’s what we know right this second.

  • Wahaka’s Espadín Botaniko and Espadín Manzanita should be available later this fall. 
  • Raicilla Venanosa should be available later this year.
  • Real Minero, Rey Campero, Mezcal Sanzekan, and Mezcaloteca don’t have a release date yet.
  • Mezcal Uasïsï doesn’t have a release date yet.
  • Mezcalero #10 doesn’t have a release date yet.
  • Mezcal Valvodinos doesn’t have a release date yet.

T-Shirts

The Mezcalistas sport their latest T-shirts.

The Mezcalistas sport their latest T-shirts.

Books

The cover of John McEvoy's book on mezcal.

The cover of John McEvoy’s book on mezcal.

Tastings

The rise of the bugs

If you're shy when sampling insects, Don Bugito will make sure that it's quite an experience. Photo by Michael Skrzypek

If you’re shy when sampling insects, Don Bugito will make sure that it’s quite an experience. Photo by Michael Skrzypek

We hosted Don Bugito at our recent Mezcal: Mexico in a Bottle event because insects are pretty integral to mezcal and the Mexican culinary universe. But there’s much more to edible insects than tradition, they may very well be the food of the future.

Mezcal: Mexico in a Bottle in pictures

Well, that was quite an event. We had a fantastic time presenting more than 15 mezcal brands featuring an incredible collection of mezcals and seven local restaurants who created unique cocktails specifically for the event. And that doesn’t even cover the events that elude easy categorization like Cocktail Academy’s course on how to use mezcal in cocktails, Don Bugito‘s focus on edible insects, our curated tastings, and panel conversations on the big issues in the mezcal world. Suffice to say it was quite a scene and we are incredibly happy that we were able to bring together so many strands from the mezcal universe in a single place to sample and expand our understanding of mezcal and Mexican culture.

We will definitely be making this an annual event and are already planning other events in the nearer term so stay tuned for future announcements. If you haven’t already, sign up for our email list, follow us on Twitter, and like us on Facebook so that you can get all the latest information about events and news in the mezcal world. Then lean back and take in photos from our event!

 

 

What’s up in the world of mezcal?

You already know that we’ll be tasting an incredible variety of mezcals later today at our Mezcal: Mexico in a Bottle event and that you’ll be able to taste bites from some of the best Mexican restaurants in the San Francisco Bay Area. But did you know that we’ll also be hosting a series of talks and tastings to dive as deep as possible into the world of mezcal?

We will be hosting a series of panel discussions on topics of importance and interest including:

  • Culture and History of Mezcal: We’ll delve into the questions of mezcal’s origin and how it is intertwined with Mexican culture. We’ll also take a look at how globalization is changing that culture. Raza Zaidi of Wahaka mezcal and Esteban Morales of Raicilla Venenosa and many restaurant projects in Guadalajara will converse on these and related topics.
  • Is Mezcal Sustainable: Our panelists Arik Torren from Fidencio, Clayton Szczech from Experience Mezcal and Tequila, and Erick Rodriguez of Alma Mezcalera delve into the big questions about environmental, legal, and cultural sustainability in the mezcal industry.
  • Women and Mezcal: Susan Coss of Mezcalistas.com talks to Graciela Parreño of Real Minero about the changing role of women in the industry. Initially consigned to the background they are now emerging as business leaders and even mezcaleros. 

Mezcal: Mexico in a Bottle also gives you a unique contrast of tasting opportunities. Mezcal brands will be pouring their bottles throughout the event so that you can taste an incredible variety of mezcals while talking to their creators. We will also offer a series of specialized tastings that will delve into the following areas:

  • Anatomy of Mezcal: Ivan Saldana, the man behind Montelobos Mezcal, leads the tasting group through his nuanced perspective on what you’re tasting in a mezcal and then compares his notes with other mezcal creators and the audience.
  • Specialities from Oaxaca and Beyond: We pour tastes from some high contrast mezcals in order to highlight the variety of small producers in Mexico. Led by Mezcal PhD blogger John McEvoy who recently published a great book on mezcal.
  • Michoacan Rising: We highlight a few of the coming wave of mezcals from Michoacan which highlight different agaves, traditions and flavors. Michoacan was officially certified as a mezcal producing state in 2012, it’s just now that the state’s mezcals are gaining full certification and will be appearing on the American market.

So, don’t delay head on over to Public Works and buy your tickets at the door. You don’t want to miss this line up!

Smoked dove cocktail? Yup, that’s your Paloma!

Watch as Tamarindo’s Michelle makes their Smoky Paloma in a nicely proportioned ceramic cup with a chile salt rim. You can beat the heat with these so arrive at Mezcal: Mexico in a Bottle Sunday fresh from the park. Tamarindo will cool you down with a Smoky Paloma and feed you a refreshing snack so that you’re ready for the rest of the mezcal tasting. Just make sure to buy your tickets today!