(This is the last week to register your public comments about NOM 199. You can read all of our coverage here but we have also asked for comment from a few people in the mezcal world. Here are comments from Rachel Glueck and Noel Morales who have created Amor del Diablo mezcal ) -- It's clear that NOM-199 is made to keep market control in the hands of those already established. It's a completely non-sensical proposal that is antithetical to what mezcal truly is, and a slap in the face to the real producers of mezcal. Mezcal is booming because of its authenticity and diversity, because it is directly linked to centuries-old traditions. The consumer craves that connection, and mezcal is one of the only spirits in the world that offers that. Mezcal is not an industry; mezcal is a tradition. This Occidental idea of "industry" will ruin everything. It's very important for the communities - the communities don't buy whiskey for the ceremonies, they buy mezcal. If you destroy this, you destroy many things - including your industry.
[caption id="attachment_4313" align="aligncenter" width="768"] Pencas before their removal.[/caption] Penca literally means leaf or "fleshy leaf of an agave or cactus." In the Mexican world the meaning is obvious and literal. The leaves of the agave that have to be sheared off before you get to the piña. [caption id="attachment_4314" align="aligncenter" width="1024"] Freshly shorn, a piña emerges from its pencas.[/caption] Like all things in the Mexican universe a penca is never just a penca. It doesn't just get cut off the piña, lie inert and decompose. No, once shorn it becomes integrated into a wide web of functions including decomposing in a pile.
(This is the last week to register your public comments about NOM 199. You can read all of our coverage here but we have also asked for comment from a few people in the mezcal world. Here's the first in a series from John McEvoy who blogs as Mezcal PhD.) I am not sure if you have heard what certain power brokers are trying to pull off in Mexico, but it is an affront to the deep tradition of mezcal and all it stands for historically. There is a blasphemous proposal, called NOM 199, where they are effectively trying to eliminate the use of the term "agave" for spirits that are produced outside the mezcal and tequila DOs. Today, these traditional producers outside of the denomination of origin regions, can call their product "Destilado de Agave", and can tell us what type of agave was used and label it accordingly. This is not perfect for the producers because they cannot call it mezcal, but at least they can tell us what is in the bottle.
Friends, countrymen, mezcal lovers - This is it. This is the last week for public comment on NOM 199 so make sure to sound off before it's too late. If you haven't already please sign the Tequila Interchange Project's (TIP) petition against NOM 199 here. You can also read all our coverage of NOM 199 here. We here at Mezcalistas think NOM 199 is terrible. It will hurt the small people in the mezcal world while also undermining Mexico's cultural heritage. And for what? As best we can tell this hands more power to larger corporate interests.
[caption id="attachment_4265" align="aligncenter" width="768"] Judah Kuper displays the Vago line at St. Frank.[/caption] Damn, it's been almost a month since a really nice Vago tasting at St. Frank in San Francisco. I blame the delay on the twinned Komil and mezcal in media outbursts which consumed almost all of our attention recently. Oh and all those tastings we're organizing in SF, NY, and Chicago... But enough with delays. A group of us was fortunate to taste through Vago's line with brand co-founder Judah Kuper Thursday, March 24th. Special thanks to Joel from Worthy Bar for organizing the event. Special thanks as well to Kevin & Lauren Bohlin for hosting at St. Frank. For those who haven't been, St. Frank is an absolutely beautiful cafe in San Francisco. It's all blond wood and white tile but steps beyond most espresso bars in that it puts a huge emphasis on reducing the obstacles between barista and customer interaction. The espresso machines are under the counter, and everything else is kept out of the way so that it's easy to see and interact without a big hunk of metal between you. They are also just about to expand with new cafes named Saint Claire in partnership with Not for Sale.
It's not often, if at all, we venture into Tequila world, but when this opportunity came up to collaborate on an agave event at the Clift Hotel, we jumped. With the NOM 199 proposal hanging over the agave industry's head,
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