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Posts from the ‘Agave’ Category

David Suro on the agave price spike

Yesterday Siembra Valles and Tequila Interchange Project founder David Suro posted the following to Facebook on the agave price spike that everyone has been discussing over the past months. In July it seemed like 18 pesos a kilo was extravagant, that was a huge topic of discussion at Tales of the Cocktail where the focus was on agave syrup as a culprit.  Now it sounds like the price has crept even higher and the debate has expanded.

In the comments, Jake Lustig from Haas Brothers, which includes mezcals like Don Amado and Mina Real, blames diffusers and industry consolidation in a really sharp cost breakdown. David Suro’s conclusion is much the same of many others concerned with this issue: In the comments he says “If you have someone showing you an Agave spirit below 25.00 USD its just a big red flag! At this time is absolutely no way that those prices are sustainable and ethical.” So that’s something we here in the U.S. and globally can clearly influence. Take note bartenders and buyers!

 

 

 

Agave: Spirit of a Nation

Looky here, a new documentary about mezcal from the people who brought you Decanted featuring some of our favorite people in the mezcal world including Graciela Angeles, Aquilino Lopez, and Carlos Camarena. It won’t be ready for release until early 2018 so stay tuned…

 

 

Mezcales de Leyenda’s limited release project

Given last week’s line up of catastrophes, the week before seems like a lifetime ago. Back then I had a chance to taste Mezcales de Leyenda’s new high end, limited release, line of mezcals at San Francisco’s Mosto Bar. What a treat, and if I knew what was going to happen the following week, I would have consumed a lot more for fortification.

The new Mezcales de Leyenda line-up

This is a new initiative by Mezcales de Leyenda which benefits social causes in the regions where the mezcals originate. It is a bold project in both cause, which at first glance seems all over the place, and determination in getting expensive and small production mezcals into the marketplace. Neither goal is  easy nor inexpensive.

It’s interesting to see brands build out their portfolios to hit the different market segments – a cocktail mezcal for volume, the “sipping” mezcals that fall on the mid-high shelf, and the ultra high end premium bottles that are geared toward the collector. It is a gamble in a category that is still feeling its way through how to simultaneously meet demand for product, while still showcasing the beauty of small production mezcal.

This new lineup features mezcals, agaves, traditions, and causes from across central Mexico; each has a different focus.

Grandes Leyendas

A cupreata from Northern Guerrero recognizes mezcaleros over 70 and benefits the family of Don Anastacio.

Cementerio Mezcalero

An americano from Michoacan highlights the tradition of aging mezcal in glass, underground, and then unearthing it for celebrations, in this case specifically for Dia de los Muertos.

Reservas de la Biosfera

An ensemble from the Tehuacán-Cuicatlán bioreserve that straddles Puebla and Oaxaca benefits the conservation of regional cactacea (cactus).

Mezcales Unicos

Made from agave Montana harvested in Tamaulipus this is, as far as we can ascertain, the first time this agave has been distilled and distributed commercially. The benefit component of this bottle will go the cultivation and conservation of the agave Montana.

These seem like random “causes” until you understand how specifically tied they are to each region where the mezcals come from. How do you simultaneously source and export super small production runs and give something back to the community? As we have written about before, this is no easy task, and often times, a micro focus might make the most sense. If these mezcals are successful, the money generated from them, while small in our eyes, can be huge in these communities where dollars go much further. Supporting mezcaleros who work to carry on town traditions, providing financial support to families of elderly mezcaleros, supporting cactus diversity in bio reserves, and cultivating and conserving a new to mezcal production maguey – these are focused projects that look to maintain a balance of give and take.

But how did they taste?

Grandes Leyendas (369 bottles) is made from wild cupreata from northern Guerrero. It was distilled by Don Anastacio who recently turned 72. Roasted in an earthen pit, crushed by hand in a wood (fig tree) canoe, fermented in oak with water from the stream that runs by the palenque and distilled in copper. At 43% it was quite smooth and had a lovely sweet finish.

Cementerio Mezcalero  (435 bottles) is made from the maguey Americano grown in western Michoacán. It was distilled by Don Guadalupe Pérez, who revived the tradition of burying mezcal three feet underground in glass for nine months (like a baby). Traditionally this was to hide the mezcal until it was unearthed for Dia de los Muertos.  Local stream water, conical lava rock pit for the roast, wood fermentation tanks, copper still with a pine wood hat, it packs a punch at 48%. It was very dry, and well minerali, though the tasting notes referenced buttery.

Mezcales Únicos “Montana”(369 bottles) is the first known distillation of the maguey Montana from the Sierra Madre Oriental in Tamaulipus. Distilled by a father and sun team of the Obregon family from Guerrero (no mezcaleros in this particular region of Tamaulipus) it was a trial and error experiment in crafting the final product. And I have to say, what a final product in its unique meaty and blue cheesy flavor. Truly sublime.

Reservas de la Biosfera “Tehuacan” (555 bottles) is an ensemble of the agave Marmorata and Macrocantha (Espadilla) and was harvested with special permission from the local community that oversees the bio reserve. Distilled by three generations of mezcal makers, grandfather Don Bernardo, son Don José, and grandson Aquilino using local stream water, a lava rock pit oven, oak fermentation tanks, and a copper still. It was quite floral with a very black pepper finish.

The Penca Verde cocktail

In addition to the new line up, there were also cocktails and delicious passed treats including a chapulines and guacamole tostada, al pastor tacos, a ceviche tostada, and a fresh huitlacoche sope. What a taste sensation all round!

London Mezcal Week is almost here

Are you ready London because mezcal is ready for you and will be painting the town Red, White, and Green next week!

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Oaxaca – a constantly changing landscape

The colors of La Guelaguetza in full bloom.

We arrived just as the morning sky was breaking open and the rain had stopped. There had been a torrential storm when we landed in Mexico City the night before, and despite having put in a four hour buffer to get through customs, get to the bus station, and grab something to eat before catching our midnight bus to Oaxaca, we barely made it. Rain has inundated Mexico City and created traffic havoc on an already traffic laden city. Read more

The mezcal conundrum

Like a lot of people in the world of mezcal, this is an issue I think about a lot – how to find the delicate balance of promoting an amazing spirit with supply and production limitations. The New York Times piece that hit over the weekend, Here, Try Some Mezcal, but Not Too Much, came just as I was mulling over how to write about the current demand for heirloom corn from Mexico and potential problems that could arise. Read more

Spirited Conversations – talking alternative business models and mezcal

We’re really looking forward to our upcoming tasting and talk in Sacramento with Rion Toal of Maestros del Mezcal. Mestros is a cooperative of small producers from several regions in Mexico. This is the kick off of our Spirited Conversations series where we focus on a specific topic while tasting mezcal. The event will be held April 3 at Sacramento’s newest agave spirits and Mexican craft beer focused restaurant and bar Cantina Alley. For tickets, check here. Read more

Moreno’s Liquors demonstrate mezcal’s deep roots in Chicago

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A post from our Chicago partner Lou Bank, who we first met in Oaxaca over mezcal, of course. Together we are bringing Mezcal: Mexico in a Bottle to Chicago for the first time this September 18th, 2016. Get your tickets today!

Chicagoans have seen a relative boom in mezcal recently, with agave-centric bars joining standard-bearers like Frontera, Masa Azul, and Dove’s. But the seeds for all of them were planted four decades ago, in the 1970s, when Mike Moreno had a vision for a store that brought Mexican and Latin American beers, wines, and spirits to the people of Chicago’s Little Village neighborhood. “I wanted to bring our culture to our community,” he explains.

La Preferida had $127,000 in Mexican beers that they could not sell,” said the soft-spoken entrepreneur. “When I told them I wanted some of it for a store that would cater to the people living in Little Village, they did not think it would work. But it wasn’t long before I had purchased all of that beer from them.” Read more

Mezcal 101

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Long time readers of this blog will be forgiven for their dismay because they are always asking us to lead Mezcal 501 seminars but we’re going back to the basics exactly because we also hear from many people new to the joys of mezcal and we decided it would be best to proceed in a deliberate and linear manner. For once, at least. Plus, we’re getting awfully tired of reading these ill informed “tequila’s smoky” cousin articles Read more

Mexico in a Bottle, NYC Style

Check out our wrap up of our first Mexico in a Bottle outside of San Francisco. There is just one way to sum it up – beyond swell. We landed Friday night and hit the ground running, with our first stop at the Spotted Pig – a cold beer, a pigs ear salad and chicken liver toast. Fortification for the night ahead, which began and ended at Cosme. Because really, what more do you need than that? Edgar Morales was behind the bar and did us right with some pretty tasty cocktails. We then moved on to a couple of lovely copitas of mezcal (bartender surprise!) and toasted the night with James Beard Foundation Rising Star Chef Daniela Soto-Innes, who won my heart as she played DJ and couldn’t decide between Janet Jackson and Nick Cave. Read more