Mezcal Industry Carpetbaggers and Scoundrels

By Alvin Starkman, M.A., J.D. ¨Heroes and Villains, Just see what you’ve done” was the refrain of the 1967 The Beach Boys song. Now while I’m neither, though some might disagree, Mexico’s burgeoning mezcal business contains representatives of both; too many of the latter.  But even one person is more than we want, especially since … Read more

מסקל Kosher Mezcal from Oaxaca, Mexico: Kashrut or Canard

By Alvin Starkman, M.A., J.D. How Far Does Kosher Go? A palenquero in a Oaxacan field is harvesting agave espadín destined to be distilled into kosher mezcal. He comes across a rattler or coral snake.  Can he kill the snake with the machete he is using to cut the pencas off the maguey?  I’m far … Read more

Adulteration and Bastardization of Traditional Mezcal in Oaxaca

Buying Mezcal From Oaxaca: Exercise Due Diligence & Beware of Misrepresentation By Alvin Starkman, M.A., J.D. If you like it, and you think it’s decent value, then buy it. This is not a treatise on being critical of market changes in the promotion and sale of what at face value may appear to be traditionally made … Read more

Mezcal’s High Tide Raising Economy in Oaxaca

By Alvin Starkman, M.A., J.D. On a recent warm, sunny afternoon, for the first time that I can recall, there was a lineup leading outside the front door at CATOSA bottle distributor in the Oaxaca city suburb of Los Volcanes. Everyone was waiting to place orders for bottles destined to be filled with mezcal, the … Read more

Artisanal Mezcal in Oaxaca 25 Years Hence: No Two Batches are Different

By Alvin Starkman, M.A., J.D. Not to scare the bejesus out of mezcal aficionados, but the industry must be careful as the popularity of the spirit skyrockets, so as not to lose one of its hallmarks, that is the uniqueness of every lot distilled.  We still hear and read that no two batches of (artisanal) … Read more

Why Now, Mezcal: The Lone Ranger Rides Again

By Alvin Starkman, M.A., J.D. The branding of Kimo Sabe mezcal is brilliant.  Perhaps not since the mid 90s when Ron Cooper coined the phrase Single Village Mezcal for his Mezcal del Maguey, has anyone used a name so effectively to attract a particular demographic in the alcohol buying public. Back then it was a … Read more

Oaxacan “Vintage” Chango Mezcaleros Makes a Comeback

By Alvin Starkman, M.A., J.D. For a half century if not longer, the state of Oaxaca has been known for its mezcal, in the US, and to a lesser extent further abroad.  The region’s pre-Hispanic ruins, colonial architecture, cuisine and craft villages have been noted in travelogues and guide books for some time; but recently … Read more

Mezcalaria, The Cult of Mezcal: Book Review by Alvin Starkman

Mezcalaria,The Cult of Mezcal:  Book Review By Alvin Starkman, M.A., J.D. Mezcalaria, Cultura del Mezcal, The Cult of Mezcal (Farolito ediciones, 2012) is the third edition, first bilingual (English-Spanish), of the seminal 2000 publication by author Ulises Torrentera.  The book is highly opinionated on the one hand, yet on the other contains a wealth of … Read more