Mezcalistas, like everyone else in the mezcal business, is experiencing its own share of growing pains. Limited resources (it’s a 2.5 person shop) and capital constraints (bootstrapping all we do) come smack up against all we want to do for the category, all the time. It’s simultaneously painful and euphoric to be in this place of so much possibility and so much work.
Six and a half years ago when we started the blog, I think we had about three dedicated readers, Ron Cooper, Ansley Coale, and my mom. We ran tastings out of my apartment before moving on to an art gallery and then finally to the full blown Mexico in a Bottle series. We have learned a lot along the way and tried to listen to all the voices in the industry from producer to brand to distributor to bartender and to consumer. I believe our earnestness in spreading the love of agave has made a difference in a primarily positive way.
What seems like a lifetime ago, last year we announced an idea to create a collaborative of people in the mezcal industry in order to educate the market and grow the mezcal category in a responsible manner, together. I am happy and excited to announce that we officially launch the Mezcal Collaborative on November 1. Our goal is simple – which means the hardest thing to actually do – to make the world safe for mezcal. It is a light hearted tag line, but one we take very seriously. We’ve been working behind the scenes to create educational materials, a mezcal database, category marketing initiatives (here and here) and the inaugural Mezcal Collaborative Conference to address key aspects to growing the mezcal market – distribution and retail. The conference is deliberately small in scope this year as we are believers in combining baby steps with chutzpah. We have a few seats left so reserve your space now and add your voice to the conversation at this crucial juncture for the category.
Now that we have officially launched, the next six months will be focused on building an advisory board that will be instrumental in determining our budget, process, and organizational structure. So much change is happening so quickly in the industry that it’s more crucial than ever to band together to support traditional mezcal while continuing to define the market to support everything that makes mezcal unlike any other spirit in the world. Membership is open to brands, distributors, organizations, hospitality groups, and of course individuals.
So what does this mean for Mezcalistas in the wake of this launch? Well, for now, not a whole lot. We will continue to write about the industry, produce Mexico in a Bottle, push the conversation on sustainability, and do everything we can to shine the light the who, what, where, and when of the mezcal world. We have some work ahead of us, including further defining the relationship Mezcalistas will have to the Mezcal Collaborative, and for the first time ever, looking for some key partners/sponsors (non-brands) to help support our work.