Before mezcal found me, I was a whiskey drinker, specifically bourbon. It appealed to my desire to nurse a drink, sipping slowly over time, sometimes neat, sometimes over ice. I was no connoisseur, and most of what I drank was
[et_pb_section fb_built="1" _builder_version="3.19.17"][et_pb_row _builder_version="3.19.17"][et_pb_column type="4_4" _builder_version="3.19.17"][et_pb_text _builder_version="3.19.17"]Disclaimer: In August of 2019, I was invited by Casa Lumbre Spirits, the parent company of Montelobos Mezcal, to join their industry trip to Mexico for their annual Dia de los Muertos celebration in
File this under blog posts that get lost among a pile of back to back events and a crazy fall... In a move to be transparent, Del Maguey posted a piece on its blog in September explaining that the ABV for a few of its expressions was going to increase because of new rules around allowable levels of furfural and methanol in mezcal. Both furfural and methanol are naturally occurring chemical compounds and are in a whole host of food and beverages in the human diet. But like anything else, in large amounts they can be poisonous. In the alcohol industry this is particularly true so both chemicals have been regulated wherever regulations have been in place.
[caption id="attachment_5385" align="aligncenter" width="1024"] Left to right, Susan Coss, Raza Zaidi, Judah Kuper, and Ivan Saldaña.[/caption] The evening before this year’s Mezcal: Mexico in a Bottle San Francisco we hosted a panel titled “What We Talk About When We Talk About Sustainability” to dig into the raft of questions about sustainability in the mezcal industry. Aside from our debt to Raymond Carver the panel was inspired by the consistent questions from drinkers and bartenders throughout the world about how mezcal can be made in a way that ensures environmental, cultural, and economic sustainability. The topic comes up in almost every conversation and since we had a team of brand heavyweights in town the moment was ideal for the discussion. Susan Coss moderated the discussion between Judah Kuper from Vago, Raza Zaidi from Wahaka, and Ivan Saldaña from Montelobos. We were also privileged to host many other brand representatives in the audience including Fidencio’s Arik Torren, Erick Rodriguez, William Scanlan, and more.
I'll never forget that first sip of Ancho Reyes, the chile liquor from Montelobos. It was of course at a mezcal tasting held, appropriately enough, for the screening of Viva Mezcal at Guelaguetza Restaurant in Los Angeles. Ivan Saldaña, the mad botanist/chemist behind Montelobos Mezcal, pulled a bottle out for some of us to try. This was the spring of 2012: What we now know as Ancho Reyes was months away from launching in the market. At that moment we hadn't a clue what this was or how it would eventually take the cocktail market by storm. We tried it several different ways - neat, over ice, with club soda and across the board, the reaction was, well, highly enthusiastic to say the least. The flavor was so deep and spicy, it was the perfect essence of smoked chile in a bottle. With that kind of a track record, you can imagine the buzz about the soon to be launched Ancho Verde. I was lucky enough to get an early try, and to catch up with Ivan to talk about this new addition to his portfolio. Saldaña has a long history in the agave world. As a scientist he has a deep background of studying agaves and how we process flavors, and in 2011, he launched Montelobos Mezcal. He is also a big proponent of pushing for sustainability in the agave world, especially to make sure that
Late last year Susan and I had the pleasure of meeting Iván Saldaña, the primary force behind Montelobos mezcal for the label's formal domestic launch. Susan got to catch up with him again this spring at a tasting in LA