In a stunning reversal of fifty years of policy the administration of AMLO has decreed that the nation of Mexico is giving the word mezcal back to the people of Mexico so that they can “reconquest the Mexican soul.” Sources
Taking everyone by surprise, on February 25th the Mexican government canceled NOM-199 which had gone into effect at the end of 2020. To refresh memories, NOM-199 was the regulation years in the making to oversee the alcohol industry in Mexico:
Details Location: La Reina, Rancho Nuevo, JaliscoAgave: A. maximilianaMaestro Raicillero: Julio TopeteABV: 40%Tasting keywords: Pickle juice, sugar cane juice, green peppercorn.NOM: 199 SCFI 2017 Nose Rich and distinctive lactic notes mixed with golden syrup sugars. Taste Jangly pickle juice, sugar cane juice, molasses, touch of cilantro
[caption id="attachment_5724" align="aligncenter" width="1024"] What category do these bottles fit in?[/caption] NOTE: I edited this piece slightly because a sharp eyed commenter noted that diffusors are explicitly allowed, a fact that I flat out missed while reading and translating the NOM. I'm going to be writing more about that in the coming days but for now I'm just updating this post with the relevant information. -- Max Garrone ---- Ever so quietly NOM 70 was passed into Mexican law on February 23nd. This after years of debate and discussion - a process that was unusual for its inclusiveness and for how the voices of the people impacted by the law are included in it. Now that we have a law it's time to figure out what it means. Here's the full text. Big picture:
Yesterday it was announced that a watered down version of NOM 199 passed: Except instead of mandating that any mezcal not produced within an already defined appellation and certified by the CRM be called "Komil," it says that these spirits must now be called "Aguardiente de Agave." To understand who will need to use this terminology see our previous post on the impact of the original proposal; all you need to do is replace "Komil" with "Aguardiente." This is being pitched as a triumph for everyone but
(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.
(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.
Part three in my series of articles exploring the possible outcomes of NOM 199. The big question is how can such a small, and woefully underfunded group of mezcaleros and afficionados fight NOM 199 aside from signing petitions and hoping for the best? Well, for a couple of organizations the answer is through Mexico's own constitution which has been amended over time to explicitly spell out a mandate to support the human and economic rights of the indigenous community.
[caption id="attachment_4219" align="aligncenter" width="600"] If you're going to play with the meaning of words and spirits, you had better be ready for some strange stuff.[/caption] Second in a series of articles breaking down the proposed NOM 199 into layman's terms. Read my first article on the three key things to know about NOM 199 and read the rest of our coverage of this topic. Let's imagine, Philip K. Dick style, that NOM 199 is now law and bottles of komil line the shelves of your local liquor store. The next big question for you, the faithful consumer of what were previously called agave distillates or mezcals, is "What exactly is in a bottle of komil?"