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Agave

I’ve been writing about agave distilling projects in California and sotol distillation in Texas for some time because they’re expanding the world of mezcal. Those projects are interesting for what they are in and of themselves and because of questions

Just back from the San Antonio Cocktail Conferences (my recap is here) where I was able to attend some terrific seminars helmed by a few leaders in the industry, who happen to be women. I say it like that because I am becoming increasingly uncomfortable with how marginalizing it feels to use the phrasing female bartenders, female distillers, female brand ambassadors, etc when really, we have been here all along. The rest of the world is just waking up to that. By putting female, or woman before laymen's terms, it continues to make us more of a novelty or side bar, rather than the truth of the matter - we are fully integrated in this business, as marketers, as writers, as owners and as consumers.

[caption id="attachment_7994" align="aligncenter" width="1024"] [media-credit id=3 align="aligncenter" width="1024"][/media-credit] What's the chemistry in these agaves?[/caption]

The mellifluously titled “Volatile Compound Profiles in Mezcal Spirits as Influenced by Agave Species and Production Processes” by Araceli M. Vera-Guzmán, Rosa I. Guzmán-Gerónimo, Mercedes G. López, and José L. Chávez-Servia has some tantalizing research into the chemistry of mezcal's flavor. They were looking at the question of whether chemical variations between different agaves harvested in different areas could account for flavors which, as any of your mezcal aficionados know, is pretty critical to our enjoyment even if most of us, most of the time, don't dig into the details of chemical analysis. 

[caption id="attachment_7808" align="alignnone" width="1024"] [media-credit id=3 align="alignnone" width="1024"][/media-credit] Fields of blue agave in the valles region outside of Tequila.[/caption] It’s the heart of your mezcal and the culture around it but how much is the actual agave worth and who’s getting paid? And why is it so god damned expensive? There are no easy answers but lots of trends. For much of this year we’ve been hearing that the price of agave in tequila country has been as high as recent memory. In 2016 it was already expensive at 10 pesos per kilo, then it spiked to 18, 19, and 21 pesos per kilo in the summer of 2017. On my recent trip to Guadalajara I heard some people say the price had softened a bit to the 17-18 peso per kilo range. Meanwhile in Oaxaca the price of agave has been rising as well, but closer to the 10 peso per kilo range.

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