About that small producer…

About that small producer…

I am subscribed to several Facebook groups all about mezcal, and a common theme is the one of the small producer, though exactly what a small producer is a question unto itself. In the international world of spirits, let’s be frank, everyone in the mezcal world is a small producer if you look at the actual volume produced. Let’s say for the moment that the biggest players in the category produce maybe 200,000 liters a year – that is peanuts in the alcohol world. For the category to get anywhere near tequila’s production levels will take years and of course will require gigantic production shifts – something most of us obsessives are not keen to see, not even some of those brands we see as the big guys. read more…

Mezcalification in Oaxaca

Mezcalification in Oaxaca

Taking advantage of proximity and the Tijuana airport, I took a quick trip to Oaxaca right after our recent Mexico in a Bottle event in San Diego. The semi new border crossing (CBX) that takes you from the US side of the border directly into the Tijuana airport is terrific and seamless and enables US travelers to take advantage of far less expensive flights within Mexico. Even paying the cost of the border crossing ($30 roundtrip) and the visa ($25 which is included in the international flight) makes it worthwhile. Between my roundtrip flight to San Diego from Oakland, and then the direct flight from Tijuana to Oaxaca meant a total cost of $350 round trip, far less than the usual $650 ticket price. I envy you SoCal people for having this so close at hand. read more…

A paen to Bosforo

A paen to Bosforo

It’s spring break here in San Francisco which means that the town is blissfully empty. For some reason it also means that four friends have escaped to Mexico City for the week. Obviously someone was reading all those travel best of lists. That or my constant hype has paid off.

I’m incredibly happy that everyone is headed there because it really is such an amazing place. The only thing that bums me out is the constant stream of texts and photos I’m getting featuring Bosforo, one of the best mezcalerias in the world and a personal favorite. It’s high on my list of recommendations so I’m happy all my friends are heading there, sad not to be taking part myself. read more…

Coffee: The ever expanding Mexican universe

Max Garrone | Mezcalistas

It’s an absolute cliche but every time I visit Mexico I’m stunned by how expansive the place is: There really is a separate Mexican universe with all that the term implies. The landscapes are more varied than you can imagine while all the human cultures keep unfolding new surprises at every turn. read more…

San Diego + mezcal = tropical paradise

San Diego + mezcal = tropical paradise

Man, San Diego is a real trip. Warm weather, curvy coastline, ravines running through the middle of town. Oh and amazing people who love mezcal. Suffice to say that our inaugural Mexico in a Bottle San Diego was a slamming success. We have to thank everyone involved but especially Bread & Salt for such an amazing location. There’s an patio open to the sky as well as nooks and crannies filled with art. Here’s a photo gallery for your delectation. read more…

Changes in the mezcal world

Max Garrone | Mezcalistas

We were perplexed to read Kimo Sabe Mezcal’s post on Medium titled “3 Reasons not to worry about the Agave Shortage.” They present a map, videos, and arguments for why their distillate is something you shouldn’t worry about – the whole, trust us, we got this kind of marketing language. There are so many issues with that post that it’s difficult to pick a starting point. Fortunately John McEvoy over at Mezcal PhD has laid out most of the issues.

What really concerns us is the simple questions of transparency and standards. Kimo Sabe’s big point in that article is that they have a sustainability policy.  But the real question is how do you know that the information being provided by someone is actually true and how does it measure up against common benchmarks? Put another way, how do we know that their sustainability policy actually lines up with a common definition of sustainability? And how do we actually know that they’re following it? For example, I can’t think of a single instance in which mono cropping would be considered sustainable, and yet, that is clearly how they are planting their acres and acres of agave.

These are the basics that we should expect in the mezcal world so that we can share information about issues like sustainability, production methods, and sourcing while knowing that we are actually sharing common and true information. And what about confusion? To point out just one glaring question in everything Kimo Sabe is saying about its mezcal production: Their NOM O286X means that it’s distilled in Oaxaca which would lead you to believe that it’s a Oaxacan mezcal. But the agave for the Kimo Sabe mezcal is produced from a variety of places, especially Zacatecas, so it will probably have a different flavor than a classic Oaxacan mezcal.

The same issue came up last week with Forbes’ article on Casamigos mezcal because it was so uninformed and felt as if it was written straight from a press release that we had to go all sardonic on it and run with a commenter’s suggestion that the April 1 launch date was the clear tip off. It was too silly not to be a joke, right? Well, actually it’s not a joke. The serious issues are the same as the Kimo Sabe article. It’s people making claims about major issues in the mezcal business without reference to shared standards. Basic standards. Basic definitions. It doesn’t matter how big you are, doesn’t matter than you want to make a buck, it matters that we all agree on some standards.

People have thrown around different definitions, marketing angles, and theories about what’s important in the mezcal world with varying relationships to something we’d define as true. But it’s high time that we started working on a shared definition so that we’re at least operating in the same universe.

And that’s why we launched the Mezcal Collaborative. It’s a membership group for the entire mezcal category. It is dedicated to creating standards that all of us can abide by and it’s dedicated to educating the world about them, especially the hospitality and retail staff that are the front line educators about mezcal. We have always known that there was a critical need for transparency in the mezcal world because brands can only get so much of their message out to customers. So, we’re launching this organization to create those standards and to truly build a community of mezcal professionals so that we work together to establish standards we can stand behind, language that is clear to everyone, and even the muscle to make sure that it all holds together. Ultimately this is about us, mezcal, and who is buying it. If drinkers out there can’t distinguish between marketing BS and critical issues then we’re all shooting ourselves in the collective feet.

What’s next? We’re building out the Mezcal Collaborative web site right now. You can sign up for the newsletter today. We’ll be accepting memberships shortly. Here at Mezcalistas we’ll continue to cover the mezcal industry in our standard non-partisan way and expand our scope of coverage throughout the year. Expect to hear much more as we expand our Mexico in a Bottle tastings, Spirited Conversation tastings and educational events, Mezcal Week, and so much more.

April Fools Day comes early over at Forbes Magazine

April Fools Day comes early over at Forbes Magazine

Ok, not to be egotistical or anything but honestly we thought we had one of the best agave world April Fool’s Day jokes, what with this little diddy from two years ago. But oh no, those pranksters over at Casamigos/Diageo skooled us on how to do some serious punk’d up shit and pity that poor writer over at Forbes that fell for it hook line and sinker. read more…

The wild world of mezcal shirts

The wild world of mezcal shirts

Susan and I have been writing Mezcalistas and curating tastings since 2012 so we’ve been around for a little bit. Over that time we’ve met amazing people, tasted incredible spirits, and had some life changing experiences. But one of the more prosaic joys of this life is all the shirts that we accumulate. They really express the creativity in the mezcal world and read more…

An open dialogue – a Del Maguey intern talks about his experience

An open dialogue – a Del Maguey intern talks about his experience

There’s a cool conversation getting underway on the Del Maguey website blog. Griffin Manos, a university student spent his summer between his junior and senior year doing an internship at the Vida palenque in San Luis del Rio in Oaxaca.  First, who knew you could do such a thing, and second, that is one dedicated student because making mezcal, as the post outlines, is no walk in the park. The post is from a long email Manos wrote to Ron Cooper about his experience and what makes this so interesting is that Ron will be responding to questions and ideas raised by the internship experience.

read more…

Mezcalistas Merch – T-shirts & Calendars