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!
New library in Santa Catarina Minas. Photo by Graciela Angeles
This is not a rhetorical question and in fact it remained at the forefront of my mind as I spoke with brands, mezcaleros, development people, and academics while I was in Oaxaca, and prompted so many more questions. Why is there such an intense focus on sustainability within the mezcal industry? Just what is it about mezcal that inspires such a hard core call for sustainability? Read more
The Gracias a Dios lineup
I have to hand it to the guys at Gracias a Dios (GAD) or www.thankgad.com – that is one clever URL for the brand.
I had a chance to visit their palenque – a two birds with one stone event so I could see my friend Norma and visit the palenque. She lives in Teotitlan and puts on some pretty incredible textile and culture tours.
We set up a time to meet at the GAD palenque and get a special tour and tasting with Maestro Mezcalero Oscar Hernandez Santiago. Of course I got lost because my GPS disconnected and the directions sent us off in the complete opposite direction in Matatlan. Note to travelers – google maps is great and amazing, except of course when you have no phone reception which crazily enough, I didn’t in Matatlan. The palenque is on the edge of town as you head south on 190. It is a beautiful piece of property and will eventually be a centerpiece of the new style of mezcal travels in Oaxaca – a bread and breakfast on palenque property. It is now available to book through Airbnb. Read more
The Tres Mezquites Palenque
Over my years of visiting Oaxaca, Asis Cortes and I have never managed to be here at the same time. This trip is no different, but luckily, I was finally able to get out and visit a few of the palenques they work with. Special thanks to Puro Burro and Zack Safron who used to be a San Francisco based bartender. He has since made the leap to Oaxaca which is quite a trend with bartenders. Zach occupies a fascinating spot in the mezcal world: He works closely with Puro Burro which leads trips to Oaxaca geared toward the hospitality industry, and is a bartender at Mezcalogia, Asis’ Oaxaca mezcaleria. Zach acts as a kind of connector for the Casa de Cortes “empire” with Mezcalogia and the world outside of Oaxaca. His love and enthusiasm for mezcal, and Oaxaca, cannot be overstated. Read more
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
Misty Kalkofen, Del Maguey‘s Madrina (godmother) is a big ball of energy when it comes to her passion project – mezcal and sustainability. If you haven’t already checked out the sustainability blog at the Del Maguey website, you should. It is highly significant that the brand that pretty much launched the mezcal category as we know it today has a dedicated space on their website discussing issues impacting the mezcal industry– this is a real issue that the category as a whole must address. Read more
Last night’s inaugural Spirited Conversation at Midtown’s Cantina Alley was fun and super interactive. Rion Toal of the Maestros del Mezcal cooperative tasted us through six mezcals from five different producers and led the talk that covered a broad range of topics from distinctive production styles, agaves used, background on the makers, cooperative programs, hot topics of sustainability, economic impact, and the need to know more about where your mezcal comes from. Read more
Sombra’s new palenque
Just when we start really digging into the different ways to unpack the new NOM-70, Sombra Mezcal founder Richard Betts published this incredible piece. It’s a scoping piece of honesty and transparency from a mezcal brand. More than anything it’s incredibly refreshing – if we all could engage on this level all of the time the world would be a much better place. Read more
The tasting and menu.
In early November I was fortunate enough to attend a Sagrantino de Montefalco tasting at Perbacco. Sagrantino is the grape, Montefalco the region within Umbria in Central Italy. This small appellation doesn’t get much exposure outside of the wine world. Not much is made, the price point reflects that, and the structure of these wines cries out for the cured meats, wild boar, and pastas particular to Umbria. That shouldn’t deter you from trying it because Sagrantinos are truly fantastic and unique. But this is a mezcal blog so what do they have to do with mezcal? 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