It’s hard to believe that I am off to Mexico in a couple of days for some mezcal adventures. Advance planning always makes things seem so distant and then boom, the day of departure appears out of nowhere. A few months ago I was accepted into the Dia del Mezcalero program organized by CNI Brands. It’s my first official industry trip and I am very much looking forward to spending time not only in Oaxaca but also in Ejutla where Banhez is produced.
When I applied for the program I never expected to be accepted. I’ve previously visited Banhez, and have spent time over the years with the head of the Integradora Commercial de Ejutla cooperative that is behind the Banhez brand, Francisco Perez who will forever be known as the guy who throws without doubt the best Christmas party ever.
As I indicated in my application, my real interest is to understand how information is presented to industry people and how that information is absorbed as we build out our education platform at the Mezcal Collaborative. It’s ever more imperative to understand what not only the industry needs to learn, but also what it wants to learn to better sell mezcal. There will be several people on the trip who are new to the mezcal category, as well as folks who have never been to Oaxaca. I can’t wait to be a fly on the wall to see reactions to the place I consider my second home!
The days will be full with trips to the fields, to some of the palenques that are part of the cooperative, and of course fun as we eat and drink all of the deliciousness Oaxaca has to offer. There will also be a big party to meet and celebrate the mezcaleros that produce the various expressions that are part of the Banhez portfolio. Be sure to follow us on Instagram if you aren’t already (@mezcalistas) as that is where I will be chronicling the daily adventures. The deeper reporting will come later on this blog after I have had a chance to digest the experience.
In addition to the Oaxaca adventures, I am also traveling to San Luis Potosi to better understand mezcal production in that state. As demand for mezcal continues to grow, it is imperative that production can come from the other areas in the DO and this year we’ve been focused on learning more. We’ve seen a ramp up in Durango, as detailed in pieces by Tess Rose Lampert, here and here, and Ferron Salniker here. It’s also the crux of the next Spirited Conversations panel discussion in NY on June 10th. To say I am beyond excited to visit San Luis Potosi is a huge understatement. I have been immensely impressed with the mezcal I’ve tasted from that area and can’t wait to see what production looks like on the ground.
And if we get a chance to throw in a trip to La Huasteca, the waterfall laden eastern part of the state, well, it is something to cross off my travel bucket list.