Happy Valentine’s Day from Embajador Tequila

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Have you ever wondered what to pair with tequila for a Valentine’s celebration?  Embajador Tequila has put together a Pinterest board to help you with surprising your Valentine, or maybe just treating yourself and friends, to some delightful holiday pairings.

If you’ve had Embajador, you’ll know that the orange groves surrounding their estate owned agave fields show themselves in the nose and flavor profile of Embajador Tequila.  For this reason, one of the easiest pairings with Embajador is anything that includes cinnamon or cloves – like churros!  Check out this pin to make these beauties to the right.

If you’re an oak head and prefer Embajador’s anejo, aged in Bourbon barrels, then we heartily suggest pairing with chocolate and/or caramel flavors.  The combination is one you’re sure to love!

Are you looking for a quick but amazing Valentine’s Day gift you can pick up at a moment’s notice?

Try a bottle of Embajador Anejo and a box of chocolate turtles!

If you’d like to make the turtles to the left, click here.

If you prefer Reposado, then we might suggest a white chocolate mousse garnished with raspberries.  The flavors and textures in each will marry well for a delicious treat.

Click here for the recipe to the right.

For the purist who loves the fresh light flavors in Embajador Blanco or a Valentine that prefers to eat healthy or has a restrictive nutrition plan, we suggest combining Embajador Blanco with a heart shaped fruit platter.  This one comes with an orange cream recipe for dipping.

No matter which expression of Embajador you choose to pair with tonight, we’re certain your Valentine will love you for it!

 

Click on the image below to visit the Embajador Tequila Pinboard for Valentine’s Day.  There are pairing suggestions to fit every palate.  Whether you’re looking for a last minute gift or something to celebrate a special occasion, these are all winners.  While you’re there, check out their margarita pinboard for National Margarita Day next week!

1921 La Crema Tequila Liqueur Scones Recipe

1921 La Crema Tequila Liqueur Scones Recipe http://wp.me/p3u1xi-4wTIf you’ve seen any of my social media posts then you know that I am big on baking. If I find a great flavored tequila I feel the best test for it is to use it in scones. If my crew of taste testers eats them up quickly then I know I have a winner.

That was exactly the case when I put 1921 La Crema into a batch of scones. These scones came out rich and fluffy with the perfect hint of caramel, chocolate, and cinnamon, the flavors you love in Tequila 1921 La Crema. A tiny dusting of cinnamon on the top of the scones simply adds to the appeal.

These are excellent for serving with coffee, tea, or a glass of 1921 La Crema.

 

1921 La Crema Tequila Liqueur Scone Recipe http://wp.me/p3u1xi-4wT

 

1921 La Crema Scones Recipe

  • 1921 La Crema Tequila Liqueur Scone Recipe http://wp.me/p3u1xi-4wT 3 Cups Flour
  • 2T Baking Powder (omit if using self-rising flour)
  • 1/2t Salt
  • 1 C Sugar
  • 1/2 C Butter (Softened)
  • 2T Coconut Oil
  • 1 C Raisins
  • 1t Cinnamon
  • 1/2 C 1921 La Crema Liqueur
  • 1 1/4 C Milk

Mix all ingredients together well, then turn onto well-floured surface.

Fold several times, then pat to about one inch thick.  Use a large biscuit cutter to cut scones and then place on greased baking sheet.  (Makes about 12)

Bake at 400 for 25 minutes.

Remove from oven, brush with melted butter, dust with cinnamon and enjoy!

 

21 Things to Do with 21 Tequila Bottles

21 Things to Do with 21 Tequila Bottles http://wp.me/p3u1xi-4uYAnyone can figure out 21 things to do with 21 Tequila.  Any tequila from a distillery like Nom 1414 is easily sipped or mixed in a million different combinations of cocktails.  But what I found particularly inspiring about 21 Tequila is the bottle. These are not aluminum bottles to be simply tossed away, they are food grade stainless steel.

Now I have been a big fan of stainless steel containers all of my life, having grown up in a blue-collar family of carpenters who never left home without a thermos of coffee.  Those thermoses fell off high rises and houses alike and still kept their coffee safe and warm.  So when I saw these significant stainless steel bottles that 21 Tequila came in, I knew we could not just throw them away or put them in a box in the bottle library.

These bottles deserve their own blog so I’ve compiled a list of 21 things that you can do with these great 21 Tequila bottles after you’ve finished drinking the great tequila inside them.

21 Uses for 21 Tequila Bottles

  1. 21 Things to Do with 21 Tequila Bottles http://wp.me/p3u1xi-4uYTake them to the pool filled with any tasty beverage.
  2. Take them to the beach filled with margaritas.
  3. Take them to parties and show off your mixology skills.
  4. Use them as refillable, dishwasher safe, water bottles.
  5. Store mouthwash in them.  People will love your bathroom!
  6. Use the blanco & reposado bottles for oil and vinegar.
  7. Mix salad dressing in them for picnics or potlucks.
  8. Keep your barbeque sauce in them. You’ll be a BBQ god!
  9. Use them as shaker bottles for meal replacement or protein drinks.
  10. Keep them in your bar for cocktail shakers.
  11. Mix fresh margaritas in them and store them in your reezer for a great frozen margarita.
  12. Fill them with ice and use them as something cold for your head when you have too many sweet cocktails.
  13. Use them as a coffee thermos.
  14. Mix your drinks in them and take them tubing on a river (they float).
  15. Use them for keeping your Gatorade cool during long bike rides.
  16. Use them as forms for your cowboy boots.
  17. Use them for egg storage when camping (break the eggs into the bottle and refrigerate).  You can shake them up for scrambled or drop them out one at a time for fried eggs over a campfire.
  18. Store camping matches in them to keep them dry.
  19. Store your loose change in them.
  20. Put a few pennies inside and use them for dog training.
  21. Keep one at your desk for pen & pencil storage.

Diva Tequila Waffles Recipe

Diva Tequila Waffles http://wp.me/p3u1xi-4uMFew infused tequilas are done well, but when you find one with as versatile a flavor profile as Diva Tequila, it’s worth taking the time to experiment with it.  I’ve been using Diva Tequila in the kitchen for years now and heartily recommend adding Diva Tequila Waffles to your next brunch menu.

Diva Tequila Waffles Recipe

  • 1 box yellow cake mix
  • 1 box Jello (I like Orange, Strawberry or Lemon) mix
  • ¾ cup water
  • ⅓ cup coconut oil
  • ½ cup Diva Tequila
  • 3 eggs

Mix all ingredients well and cook in well-oiled waffle iron.

Top waffles with whipped cream, mandarin orange pieces and/or fresh strawberries.

Serve with a Pink Paloma made with:

  • 2oz Diva Tequila
  • 4oz Grapefruit Juice
  • Serve in glass with ice

Caprese Salad with Siempre Tequila

Caprese Salad with Siempre Tequila http://wp.me/p3u1xi-4vs The first time I tried Siempre Tequila, I knew immediately that it’s herbaceousness would work perfectly in a vinaigrette.

Now when most people consider using tequila in a salad dressing they want to start adding avocados and limes and getting all kitchy on the Margarita theme. But I’m here to tell you that you need to stop doing that.

The next time you are looking for a salad, consider a Caprese salad without all that balsamic nonsense going around and use a Siempre Tequila dressing instead.  That’s right, no balsamic anything, no avocados, no limes, and nothing that smacks of a margarita.

 

Caprese Salad with Siempre Tequila http://wp.me/p3u1xi-4vsCaprese Dressing Ingredients

  • 3 Tbl extra-virgin Olive oil
  • 5 Tbl Siempre Tequila
  • 4 cloves garlic (skinned)
  • 1 tsp dry mustard
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 c fresh basil leaves (loosely packed)
  • 10 basil leaves for topping

Preparation

Place first 6 ingredients in pulse style blender and blend until dressing is consistent and smooth. Serve drizzled over sliced tomatoes and cheese (mozzarella or goat cheese). The classic Caprese alternates tomato and cheese slices on a platter.

 

 Italian Dressing Ingredients

    • 6 tablespoons olive oil
    • 2 tablespoons Siempre Tequila
    • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
    • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
    • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
    • 1 teaspoon dried basil, crumbled
    • 1/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
    • Pinch of dried oregano

PREPARATION

Combine all ingredients in small bowl and whisk to blend. Season to taste with salt and pepper. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate.)

Sipping Off the Cuff | Kapena Infused Tequila

Sipping Off the Cuff | Kapena Infused Tequila http://wp.me/p3u1xi-4OfKapena is Li Hing Infused Tequila with natural flavoring, artificial coloring, and artificial sweetener. They select the finest Weber Blue Agave plants to create a premium 100% Agave Tequila that is then infused with select Li Hing flavoring. The result is an ultra premium distilled spirit with a unique island flavor. Kapena means “Captain” in Hawaiian.

Find Kapena Tequila on Facebook by clicking here.

Product Description

Kapena starts with the finest 100% Agave Tequila. Select Blue Weber Agave Plants are harvested in the Los Altos (Highlands) region of Jalisco. Each agave plant takes 8-10 years to reach the perfect age. The Los Altos region is known for its rich soil and large agave plants. The temperatures in Los Altos drop considerably in the evening which requires the agave plants to take longer to reach maturity. We believe that quality is worth the wait. Our Select Blue Weber Agave Plants then go through the cooking, fermenting, and distilling process. Our expert distillers meticulously separate the heads and tails (lower quality tequila with unwanted aldehydes produced at the start and end of the distilling process) from the “heart” or highest quality tequila. The result is a mellow, smooth, and ultra-pure, 100% Agave Tequila worthy of the Kapena name. 45% ABV

FTC Disclaimer: All samples are received free of charge but no payment is accepted by Tequila Aficionado or its agents for reviews. All reviews are the opinions of those participating in the tasting and positive reviews are never guaranteed.

 

Glazed 888 Pecan Pound Cake Recipe

Glazed 888 Pecan Pound Cake Recipe http://wp.me/p3u1xi-4v1This recipe was adapted from a bourbon pecan pound cake. After looking at the ingredients itseemed to me me that Tres Ochos anejo would work especially well.

One of the tricks of baking with tequila is to know how much tequila to use and what varietal so as not to overwhelm the other ingredients. When you have a heavy recipe such as this one that calls for sour cream and nuts, an aged tequila can make for an excellent flavor accent. In this case that is exactly what Tres ochos Anejo did.

These mini Bundt Cakes did not last for long. They were a big hit with my entire crew of taste testers.

Glazed 888 Pecan Pound Cake

Ingredients

Glazed 888 Pecan Pound Cake Recipe http://wp.me/p3u1xi-4v1CAKE:
1 cup Butter, softened
2½ eups Sugar
6 Eggs
3 cups All-Purpose Flour
2 teaspoons Baking Powder
½ teaspoon Salt
½ teaspoon Ground Nutmeg
8 ounces Sour Cream
½ cup 888 Tres Ochos Tequila Anejo
1½ cups Pecans, Chopped

GLAZE:
¼ cup Butter
½ cup Brown Sugar, Firmly Packed
3 tablespoons Milk
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1 cup Powdered Sugar
½ cups Pecans, Chopped

Instructions

CAKE:
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Spray a 12 cup Bundt pan with nonstick cooking spray.
Beat the butter on medium, until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Gradually mix in sugar and beat on medium 4 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition until yolks disappear.
Whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, and nutmeg. Set aside.
Mix together sour cream and tequila. Add to the butter mixture alternately with flour mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Mix on low just until blended. Stir in pecans and pour batter into prepared pan.
Bake 1 hour and 15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with just a few moist crumbs. (For mini cakes, bake 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with just a few moist crumbs.)  Set on a wire rack for 15 minutes to cool. Remove from pan and cool completely on rack.
GLAZE:
In a heavy bottom saucepan, melt the butter. Add the brown sugar and milk and bring to a boil over medium heat. Boil for 1 minute. Remove the pan from the heat.
Add vanilla and powdered sugar and whisk until smooth.
Pour glaze over completely cooled cake and sprinkle with chopped pecans, pressing down on them gently.

Women In The Tequila Industry: Leticia Aceves Alvarez

Women In The Tequila Industry: Leticia Aceves Alvarez http://wp.me/p3u1xi-4LgI first met Carmen Leticia Aceves Alvarez in July 2016, during my investigative visit to Fabrica Santa Rosa.  The distillery is responsible for such fan favorite tequilas as Alma de Agave, Crótalo, Cabresto, and their flagship brand, Embajador.

At a round table lunch over delicious babacoa (barbecue) skirt steak at a local restaurant in Atotonilco, the group from the fabrica introduced me to its newest offering, Jaliscience.  We enjoyed small glasses of  the reposado while waiting for the mysterious and elusive “Lety” to join us.

Having sampled the above mentioned tequilas from NOM 1509, I was struck by how each one had its own distinctive taste and aroma.

“Oh, that’s Lety’s doing,” I was told.

“Lety is the maestra tequilera?” I asked, incredulously.

All the men at the table nodded approvingly.

We’ve already encounted several female master distillers like Melly Barajas of

Women In The Tequila Industry: Leticia Aceves Alvarez http://wp.me/p3u1xi-4Lg

Sino Tequila, or Maribel Garcia Cano of Don Diego Santa, who soar undetected in the Tequila Industry, while opening doors and people’s palates.

The shy and demure Lety is not unlike the other unsung lady heroes.  Here are her responses to our standard handful of questions.

[Editor’s note:  For the convenience of our interviewee and our Spanish speaking audience, this article is in both English and Spanish.]

 ***

TA:  How would you describe your experiences as a woman in a primarily male dominated industry?  (What are the challenges you face when dealing with the male dominated Tequila/Mezcal Industries?)

(¿Cómo describiría sus experiencias como una mujer de alto rango en su posición en una industria dominada principalmente masculina?)

LA:  Participating in the predominately male Tequila Industry, more than one obstacle has been a challenge that has afforded me the chance to bring a distinct approach to my work.

Every time, more women are involved in the Tequila supply chain.  We are making an effort to bring sophistication to this spirit, standardize its methods, and to highlight the artistic marvels that a bottle of tequila implies.

To be a woman in the Tequila Industry represents strength and dedication that sustains years of experience.

Women In The Tequila Industry: Leticia Aceves Alvarez http://wp.me/p3u1xi-4Lg

(Ser participe de la industria tequilera, donde predominan hombres,  más que un obstáculo ha sido un reto que me ha permitido brindar un enfoque distinto a mi trabajo.  

(Cada vez más mujeres estamos involucradas en la cadena de suministro del Tequila.  Estamos haciendo esfuerzos en sofisticar esta bebida espirituosa, estandarizar sus técnicas y resaltar las maravillas artísticas que implica una botella de Tequila.

(Ser mujer en la industria tequilera representa fortaleza y dedicación, que sustentan años de experiencia.)

TA:  How have you been able to change things within the Tequila/Mezcal Industries?

(¿Cómo han sido capaces de cambiar las cosas dentro de su industria?)

 LA:  Perseverance is definitely a key point in this industry.

Women in Tequila have focused on opening and exploring new segments in the market.  One clear example is our entrance into Asia.

Currently, I am involved in a group of tequileros who jointly export [tequila] into China and surrounding countries.

This predominately female group is comprised of tequila lovers like me who struggle day by day so that more people recognize and value our spirit as a Women In The Tequila Industry: Leticia Aceves Alvarez http://wp.me/p3u1xi-4Lgmarvel of our country.

(Definitivamente la constancia es un punto clave en esta industria.

(Las mujeres en el Tequila se nos hemos enfocado en abrir y explorar nuevos nichos de mercado. Un claro ejemplo es nuestra incorporación a Asia.  

(Actualmente formo parte de un grupo de tequileros que en conjunto exportamos a china y alrededores.  

(Este grupo predominan mujeres amantes del tequila como yo, que día con día luchamos para que más personas reconozcan y valoren nuestra bebida espirituosa como una maravilla de nuestro país.)

 TA:  What do you see as the future of women working within the Tequila/Mezcal Industries?

 (¿Qué ves como el futuro de las mujeres que trabajan en la industria del Tequila?)

 LA:  Women have always been involved in the history of Tequila.  What has changed is that more women are taking the reins of corporations, and not just in our industry.

More professionals are becoming interested in forming part of the beautiful art of tequila and this [movement] has served to revolutionize and to fine-tune tequila’s perception onto the world.

It’s not just historic [first] families of tequila that are in the industry, but qualified people who are contributing to the solidity of the beverage.

There have been huge efforts to leave behind the image that tequila is just an intoxicating drink, and I see a clear elevation of Tequila before the world.

(Las mujeres siempre hemos estado involucradas en la historia del tequila.  Lo que está cambiando es que más mujeres estamos tomando las riendas de corporativos y no sólo en nuestra industria.

(Más profesionistas  se están interesando por formar parte del bello arte del tequila lo que ha llevado a revolucionar y sofisticar la percepción del tequila ante el mundo.

(Ya no sólo son familias de antaño en la industria sino gente preparada que está aportando una solidificación de la bebida.

(Se han hecho esfuerzos exorbitantes para dejar atrás la imagen de que el tequila es únicamente una bebida embriagante y veo una clara ascendencia del Tequila ante el mundo.)

 TA:  What facets of the Tequila/Mezcal Industries would you like to see change?

 (¿Qué cosas gustaría cambiar? )

 LA:  I’d like to bear witness to the existence of major education regarding tequila in the marketplace.

That more dinner guests order a snifter of tequila, and that more of us are aware of the respect and history that this beverage entails.

That there would be an aligned strategy to grow as an industry around the world.

Women In The Tequila Industry: Leticia Aceves Alvarez http://wp.me/p3u1xi-4Lg

(Me gustaría ser testigo de que exista una mayor educación del mercado acerca del tequila.

(Que más comensales ordenen una copa de tequila, que más estemos enterados del respeto e historia que conlleva esta bebida.

(Que exista una estrategia alineada para crecer como industria alrededor del mundo.)

 TA:  Do you approve of how Tequila/Mezcal brands are currently marketing themselves?

(Esta Ud está de acuerdo con la comercialización de marcas de tequilas o mezcal, hoy en dia?)

Women In The Tequila Industry: Leticia Aceves Alvarez http://wp.me/p3u1xi-4LgLA:  I believe it is an error that we’ve, and various brands, have committed in following the leaders of our industry, instead of looking to define a unique personalty and to focus on particular segments.

The principle reasons that this has occurred is because of the lack budgeting for marketing departments, and, on occasion, it is forgotten that these efforts help in the commercial and sales arena to solidly position the brand.

(Creo que un error en que hemos incurrido varías marcas es en seguir a los líderes de nuestra industria en lugar de buscar definir una personalidad única y enfocarnos en nichos particulares.

(Las razones principales que esto ocurre es por falta de presupuesto para departamentos de mercadotecnia y en ocasiones se olvida que estos esfuerzos ayudan al área comercial y ventas, ya que al posicionar la marca la misma se vuelve más solida.)

 TA:  Is there anything you’d like to say to women who may be contemplating entering and working in the Tequila/Mezcal Industries in one form or another?

 (¿Existe algo que le gustaría decir a las mujeres que pueden estar contemplando entrar y trabajar en la industria del Tequila en una forma u otra?)

LA:  The Tequila Industry is extremely passionate; it envelopes history and tradition.  It’s incredible to see that reflected in a snifter of tequila–all the flavors of Mexico.

To be a woman in the Tequila Industry is a challenge and a responsibility to present our nation before the world.

I invite even more women to not only form a part of the industry, but to be leaders that project Tequila as a beverage that exposes colors, flavors, aromas, and hundreds of years of struggle.

A beverage that deserves respect and celebration.

(La industria del tequila es extremadamente apasionante; te envuelve la historia, tradición.  Es increíble ver reflejada en una copa de tequila todos los sabores de México.

(Ser mujer en la industria del tequila representa un reto y una responsabilidad de presentar a nuestro país ante el mundo.

(Invito a que más mujeres no sólo formen parte de la industria sino sean líderes que proyecten el Tequila como una bebida que expone colores, sabores, olores y esfuerzo de cientos de años.  

(Una bebida que merece respeto y celebración.)

Women In The Tequila Industry: Leticia Aceves Alvarez http://wp.me/p3u1xi-4Lg

Embajdor Tequila Online

  

Men In Mezcal: Douglas French

Men In Mezcal: Douglas French http://wp.me/p3u1xi-4LfPioneer innovator, Douglas French, founder of Scorpion Mezcal kicks off a new feature on Tequila Aficionado called Men In Mezcal.

Establishing his distillery in Oaxaca in 1995, Scorpion has just celebrated its 20th anniversary as the original leader in introducing entry level mezcals to over 38 states, and globally to 16 countries.

Even before this current mezcal boom, Scorpion was often overlooked as the forerunner of producing varietal and barrel aged mezcals, while at the same time elevating its image into the “cognac of Mexico.”

Here to set the record straight–in his own words–is Douglas French of Scorpion Mezcal.

My Story

This is my story of living and working with the Zapotec peoples in Oaxaca to help build a category that has been hidden in the Sierra Madre del Sur forMen In Mezcal: Douglas French http://wp.me/p3u1xi-4Lf centuries.

It has been forsaken and beaten down by taxes and tequileros over the last century.

Now is its time to bloom as a category in the global arena.  I am a part of this movement.

I have exported 14 mezcal brands to 16 countries around the world and my import company Caballeros, Inc., is adding more brands to the portfolio to get even more mezcal into the US market.

I have worked on this project for 20 years.

Weaving The Tapestry

“To make something of quality means that you put your body and soul into it.  To create something new is an art form and an extension of oneself.”

I was a yarn and textile designer and weaver in San Francisco before I moved to Oaxaca, Mexico with my small craft mill.  I made high quality original designs of natural cotton, wool and silk fabrics for interior decorating, and some clothing.

In Mexico, my mill started to thrive until it went bankrupt as a consequence of the NAFTA Free Trade Agreement between the USA, Canada and Mexico.

Most (about 70%) of Mexico’s factories closed down because of the free trade agreement.  I was just one of many to suffer this collateral damage.

What Next?

The mezcal industry in Oaxaca has been a subsistence level business activity. Most of the producers make very small quantities and are quite poor. However, I felt that there was potential to carve out a small business.

So, I changed my career to make mezcal.  I hired Don Lupe, a Zapotec and 3rd generational maestro mezcalero to start work.

Establishing a Palenque

We set up a rudimentary palenque.

We dug a hole in the ground for the pit oven to cook the maguey.  Lupe bought a log and had it cut into a rectangular block and had it dug out for mashing with wooden mallets.

Men In Mezcal: Douglas French http://wp.me/p3u1xi-4Lf

I bought a bunch of sabino boards and Lupe sent them to the carpenter to make the fermentation vats.  I found an old 100 liter still and had a local coppersmith patch it up.  I also built a home made bottling machine.

The Small Batch Process

With this equipment Don Lupe started to make mezcal, teaching me and some of my weavers how to do it.

We were cooking the agave with oak logs in the pit.  We cooked about 3 tons at a time per batch.  I say about, because there were no scales, it was just a 3-ton truckload.

We pounded the agave with wooden mallets to make the mash that was then fermented and distilled.  A batch ended up yielding about 175 liters of mezcal.

In the beginning we cooked 1 oven load a month.  Then, we got up to 2 oven cookings a month for a maximum production of about 350 liters of mezcal a month.

I figured that 100 cases a month would be a perfect business and I could set up a hammock to relax in and watch the liquid gold drip out of my pot still.

It was looking like a great plan.

Off to Market

I set off to market to sell my mezcal.

Unfortunately no one wanted to buy.  The local buyers already had suppliers and didn’t need any more.  So the Oaxacan market was saturated with mezcal.

I decided to go back to the USA to sell it.  However no one knew what mezcal was and no one wanted to buy it.  No importer was interested in investing in it.

So with an old buddy in California, we started our own import and distribution company, Caballeros.  This way we at least had the product in the USA ready to deliver without any delays.

Still no one wanted to buy mezcal.

Worms Are for Wimps! 

I didn’t have the millions of dollars necessary to run a promotional program, so I needed something to get sales started.  I came up with the Scorpion name and a real scorpion in the bottle.

That was exciting, and it got sales going, even though very slowly.

Turning Point

I soon realized that 350 liters a month wasn’t enough for me and my partner and my employees to earn a living.  We were doomed to live in poverty unless we sold the product very expensively and abused the consumer.

I couldn’t bring myself to do that.

My vision had been to give the best quality mezcal that I could make at a reasonable price to the consumer.  So the solution was to make larger volumes.

So much for hanging out in the nice, comfortable hammock.

Phase 2

Men In Mezcal: Douglas French http://wp.me/p3u1xi-4LfI started phase 2 of the distillery by adding a second 350 liter copper still and then a third 500 liter copper still.  I got a motorized shredder and a bunch of fermenting tanks.

For a while, I produced more than I was selling, so I put the excess into oak barrels to start aging.  I started offering reposado and anejo mezcals to compliment the basic silver, as per my customer’s requests.

Phase 2 started to separate my palenque from the standard poverty/subsistence level indigenous artisan mezcaleros in the villages spread throughout Oaxaca.

There are 2 reasons for this:  1) the volume we were making was generating a larger cash flow and 2) we were enhancing the product with barrel aging, which the indigenous producers could not afford to do.

An old textile friend, Barbara Sweetman, decided to join in the effort and started selling mezcal full time in the USA.  She is based in New York City.  With her efforts, sales grew and I needed to produce more.

Phase 3

I started phase 3 with several bigger stainless steel stills:  one 800 liter and one 1400 liter and eventually a 1,800 liter copper finishing still.

I built a brick oven to steam cook 5,000 to 6,000 kilos at a time.  The steam cooking reduced the smoky flavor of the mezcal, and it let the agave flavors unveil themselves.

I was producing a lot and again more than I could sell.  I bought a container load of fine French oak barrels from a Bordeaux red wine producer.  This really ratcheted up the aging program.

Scorpion Mezcal samples were sent out to the Beverage Tasting Institute (BTI) and numerous competitions.

Accolades

Scorpion Mezcal received a Gold 94 points rating on the basic Silver, a Gold 92Men In Mezcal: Douglas French http://wp.me/p3u1xi-4Lf on the Reposado, a 95 for the Anejo 1 Year.  Platinum 96 on the 5 year Anejo and Platinum 97 on the 7 year Anejo.  Plus, Best Mezcal from Food & Wine Magazine.

In all the other competitions, Scorpion Mezcals were awarded Golds, double Golds and a couple of Silvers.  The market reacted very well to this change and sales increased quite quickly.

Soon I had to set up phase 4 of production with more stills, fermenting tanks and bigger ovens to process more agave to be able to supply the growing demand.

Scorpion Never Bores

I have always produced more than I sell so that I was sure that I could deliver my customers’ orders on time.  The excess mezcal is put into barrels for the Reposado and Anejo mezcals.

Like anything, the repetitive process of making silver mezcal becomes tedious and boring.  Also, drinking silver mezcal is ok for entry-level drinkers, but again gets boring.

The Reposado and Anejo are always welcomed delicious variations to the basic silver mezcal.

Variety:  The Spice of Life

The aging process is always an exciting and mysterious process.

Since every barrel is different, the number of uses is different, the type of wood is different, the char is different, etc., so as a result, the flavor is always different.

I also discovered early on that different varietals of agave create different flavored mezcals.

So during the process of buying the agave from the indigenous agave farmers and cooperatives in different regions of Oaxaca, a fellow would pop up with a batch of a wild agave.  I would usually buy it.

I then made it into mezcal–delicious stuff!

Since I wasn’t selling it, it just sat around.  If it were a big batch, I would put some into barrels to age and become even more delicious.

Finally in 2012, I started introducing the Tobala varietal for sale, long considered the King of Agaves.

I sent samples of the Tobala to BTI and they were judged and awarded Platinum 96 rating for the Silver and a Platinum 97 rating for the Extra Anejo Tobala.

Little by little, I am designing different presentations to offer more varietals for sale.

Dispelling Myths

A long time ago, I realized that there wasn’t enough wild agave available to bring a product to market and still be able to deliver it consistently.   So in 1997, I started to plant Tobala along with the Espadin agave that I was already growing.

The existing folklore in Oaxaca says that Tobala can only grow in the wild; it cannot be cultivated.  I collected seed in the mountains and I planted some experimental plots.

Men In Mezcal: Douglas French http://wp.me/p3u1xi-4Lf

Tobala grows very well when cultivated; the folklore is not true.

I also hired an agricultural engineer to study Oaxaca’s agricultural university records on the subject.

He discovered that in the 1930s and 40s, Tobala was a standard production crop.  This was an era before the government introduced programs to establish Espandin as a monocultural crop in Oaxaca.

Scorpion’s Sustainability

To grow a plant you need seeds to start.  So I have hiked through the mountains of Oaxaca many times looking for, and sometimes finding, ripe seeding wild agave varietals and collected bulky bags of seeds to carry back to my nurseries.

I have created a seed bank of agave varietals, and maintain nurseries to grow the baby plants.  It is slow work to create a basis for commercial crop cultivation of varietal agaves.

It takes 1 to 2 years in the nursery to germinate the seeds and to get the plant large enough to be transplanted as a crop.  Then, it takes 6 to 15 years in the Oaxacan central valley, where I live, to grow the crop.

Of course, all of this takes money, money and more money, which is very scarce for us small artisanal mezcaleros.

We have no source of financing except or own hard-earned profits.  The only way to grow is to tighten the belt and reinvest as much of the profits as you can into growth and crops.

I now have about 50 acres growing, with 5 varietals.  Every year I harvest and every year I plant; that is the way with maguey.

Men In Mezcal: Douglas French http://wp.me/p3u1xi-4Lf

Last year I planted 5000 Barril agave plants (also called madrecuixe, verde, largo of the Karwinski family).  They take about 15 years to mature.  At my age, I have no idea if I will live long enough to see the harvest.

I also realize that my efforts are just a drop in the bucket in comparison with what is needed for the growing mezcal market.  However, it is a starting place to get this segment of the market going.

I am now presenting these small exclusive varietals under my trademark ESCORPION.

The Mother of Invention

There is currently a shortage of agave and lots of the small palenques are not distilling because there is no maguey.  I am in the same boat.

So instead of looking for an outside job, I have developed recipes to make Rum and Whiskey.  They will be launching in the USA by the end of 2016 under the SCORPION brand trademark.

Men In Mezcal: Douglas French http://wp.me/p3u1xi-4Lf

The whiskies are especially exciting, because they are made with heirloom corn.  I am using white, yellow and black corn.  Oaxaca is the origin of corn in the world and has over 2,090 varieties of corn.

Mezcal is Trending

As I write this, there are about 100 Zapotec indigenous people in Oaxacan villages who eat every day because of the business transactions that I conduct with them, their fathers, brothers, wives or children.

Things are getting a little better now that mezcal is becoming more recognized and appreciated.

I hope to continue working and building the Scorpion brand, the mezcal category, and more jobs in Oaxaca.

2016 Brands of Promise Awards, Finale

Congratulations to all the winners and the nominees for the 2016 Brands of Promise Awards!

Click here to download the complete list of nominees & winners

in a convenient PDF for your 2017 shopping list!

Nominees & winners, feel free to download your medals by clicking on the appropriate images below:2016 Brands of promise awards for Blue Agave Spirit, Sotol, Raicilla, Best of Show http://wp.me/p3u1xi-4Lw2016 Brands of promise awards for Blue Agave Spirit, Sotol, Raicilla, Best of Show http://wp.me/p3u1xi-4Lw  2016 Brands of promise awards for Blue Agave Spirit, Sotol, Raicilla, Best of Show http://wp.me/p3u1xi-4Lw 2016 Brands of promise awards for Blue Agave Spirit, Sotol, Raicilla, Best of Show http://wp.me/p3u1xi-4Lw2016 Brands of promise awards for Blue Agave Spirit, Sotol, Raicilla, Best of Show http://wp.me/p3u1xi-4Lw

 

 

 

 

As always, there is never an entry fee for the Annual Brands of Promise competition, nor is there ever a licensing fee to use earned medal images on your products, packaging, website, social networks or point of sale materials.  To enter your brand in the 2017 Brands of Promise competition, email Mike@TequilaAficionado.com.