Mezcal Week 2018 is here!

Mezcal Week 2018 is here!

It’s the week we’ve all been waiting for, Mezcal Week 2018, That one week where bars and restaurants put mezcal front and center in flights, cocktails, meals, and screenings. The goal is to highlight our favorite Mexican spirit in all its variety and our participants never disappoint. There are far too many to mention, check our home page for the full listing, but a few highlights from this year to get you excited! read more…

How to manage mezcal tasting notes

How to manage mezcal tasting notes

When we started selling the Mezcal Tasting Journals we weren’t exactly sure how they’d be received. We certainly love them and have been using them for all our tastings ever since Tess Rose Lampert showed them to us. She’d developed the format along with Portland’s 33 Books Co. which has a number of other tasting journals.

One of the things that I liked immediately about the format is read more…

When does a mezcal deserve to be a mezcal?

Is it really mezcal?

What is a mezcal? Who can label their bottles with the word “mezcal”? Those are the existential questions that bedevil this industry. For a second there we thought that they were more or less settled, even if you didn’t like the result, with NOM 70 this past spring. But now a new struggle has emerged between one faction that argues that the term should be applied to those who have a claim to tradition. But the profound irony of their stance is that “mezcal”, per the new NOM definition, now means less ‘traditional product’ than ‘anything goes.’ read more…

Is Teslaquila a disruptor?

Is Teslaquila a disruptor?

Just when you think you’ve reached peak tequila along comes this Teslaquila story to blow all your assumptions out of the water. The latest chapter was Elon Musk’s October 12th tweet:

Last year we had that billion dollar (actually $700 million up front with sweeteners which make it worth more than a billion if the brand performs over the next ten years, but who’s counting!) read more…

Transparency in mezcal (and quality too) – Vago’s Sierra Negra story

A close up of Mezcal Vago’s limited edition Sierra Negra bottle.

 

Vago’s latest release, an incredibly small batch of Sierra Negra by Aquilino Garcia Lopez highlights smart and ethical behavior in the mezcal world. Each bottle that Vago releases is accompanied by a blog post that includes a highly detailed tech sheet that delves into everything you’d want to know about the bottle, the agaves and processes that produced it, and the people who made it. Dig into that, spend some time with it, think it over. All that information helps you put the scope of work that brought that bottle to you into perspective. read more…

Tina

Tina

The tina is the fermentation vessel for mezcal. The exact translation in Spanish is tub, bathtub, vat, or large jar. Traditionally these are made from wood similar to a large wine barrel with an open mouth. Originally fermentation vessels were animal hides and naturally occurring rock holes. The wood tina now dominates the mezcal world. They are used repeatedly, and when I’ve asked mezcaleros for how long I’ve never managed to get a good answer. The wood type includes pine, oak, and cypress but I wouldn’t be surprised to find other types involved. Many tequila producers use a very similar fermentation vessel which can be called a pipon while some use the “tina” term just like mezcal. read more…

Better living through chemistry?

Quiote's logo

Endless West logo

The CRM’s focus on chemistry in mezcal may not be that misdirected because there’s a gold rush on for synthetic alcohols. Check out this Verge article about Endless West’s pivot from synthetic wine to whiskey even if their logo has a very distinct resemblance to the abstract graphic of an agave used by Chicago’s Quiote. There’s even a connection to the appellation question but for Endless West, it’s all about sustainability…

But why make fake wine and whiskey at all, except as a novelty? Those associated with Endless West say its procedures uses less water and less land. Lee thinks that Endless West will ultimately either meet or surpass traditional wines and spirits with their offerings, using a method that’s more cost-effective and environmentally sustainable. (This is also the pitch behind the Impossible Burger.)

“If things that we are doing were not necessary for the environment, we would not do it,” he says. “As a brand we are telling stories that no one has told before: there’s craft behind science; we’re not evil mad scientists behind the curtain.”

In fact, Endless West has a great deal of competition when it comes to unusual alcoholic beverages. There’s a Denver-based company that calls itself Replica Wine because its unabashed MO is to replicate higher-priced, high-profile wines using scientific techniques, purchased grapes, and blending regimens. Replica is trying to make its wines taste like the higher-priced thing, but at half the cost to the consumer.

A wine world case that mezcal should study

If you thought that the ongoing debate over the meaning of mezcal and its appellation is an isolated case, then it’s high time to explore and dig into similar arguments in the wine world. Ever since appellations were created for wines, arguments over who is in them and what they mean have existed. This past week a really fascinating case bubbled up in the world of Oregon Pinot Noirs which the San Francisco Chronicle’s Esther Mobley details. Here’s the intro:

If a bottle of Oregon Pinot Noir has the word “Willamette” on its front label, would you assume that it comes from the Willamette Valley?

Probably, but if the bottle in question happened to be the 2017 Willametter Journal Pinot Noir, you would be wrong. Although the brand’s name implies a connection to the Willamette Valley, and although the front label includes the text “the Willamette region of Oregon’s coastal range,” the wine does not, in fact, qualify for the Willamette Valley appellation.