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

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 moreWhy Now, Mezcal: The Lone Ranger Rides Again

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 moreOaxacan “Vintage” Chango Mezcaleros Makes a Comeback

Aiding Artisanal Mezcal Producers in Oaxaca from the Bottom Up

By Alvin Starkman, M.A., J.D.  Export brand owners of Oaxacan artisanal mezcal, the increasingly popular agave based Mexican spirit, come in many shapes and sizes.  Some are proprietors of their own distilleries, or palenques are they’re known in this southern Mexico state.  Others buy their liquid from small-scale family owned and operated facilities; in some … Read moreAiding Artisanal Mezcal Producers in Oaxaca from the Bottom Up

Mezcal and Dogmatism in Oaxaca: Acknowledge Other Points of View (Part 7 of 7)

Dogmatism sometimes gets the better of us.  When we’re teaching about the culture of mezcal, it is sometimes very easy to exaggerate and mis-state, by finding fact where there is none.  And when we’re preaching to the uninformed, we sometimes forget that there is always fact-checking.  The uninitiated will not always take what is stated … Read moreMezcal and Dogmatism in Oaxaca: Acknowledge Other Points of View (Part 7 of 7)

Mezcal and Dogmatism in Oaxaca: Glasses, Cups, Jícaras & Clay (Part 6 of 7)

It’s hard to dispute that a vessel made of glass is the best medium for drinking mezcal, or any liquid for that matter, because it is neutral. Similarly I would suggest, at least for mezcal, a small half gourd or jicarita arguably provides imbibers with a shape which optimally enables their spirit to open prior … Read moreMezcal and Dogmatism in Oaxaca: Glasses, Cups, Jícaras & Clay (Part 6 of 7)

Mezcal and Dogmatism in Oaxaca: Agave Species (Part 5 of 7)

“Tobalá [Agave potatorum] is a wild agave; tepeztate [Agave marmorata] takes 35 years to grow.” Yes some, but certainly not all of the mezcal made with the former uses wild tobalá, and some tepeztate no doubt takes 35 years to mature.  But such statements, made as hard-fast truths not subject to discussion, bandied about by … Read moreMezcal and Dogmatism in Oaxaca: Agave Species (Part 5 of 7)

Mezcal and Dogmatism in Oaxaca: Alcohol by Volume (Part 4 of 7)

Telling consumers that they should only drink mezcal between 45% and 55% ABV (alcohol by volume) has become somewhat acceptable practice in Oaxaca mezcalerías.  While most artisanal mezcals are within that range, there are excellent products both below and above the “norm.” Spirits consumers who are accustomed to drinking quality yet commercial tequilas or scotches at … Read moreMezcal and Dogmatism in Oaxaca: Alcohol by Volume (Part 4 of 7)

Mezcal and Dogmatism in Oaxaca: The Cocktail Craze (Part 3 of 7)

I’ve read that the worst way to bastardize mezcal is to use it in a cocktail. Since publication that author has graciously tempered his dogmatism, likely after having realized that promoting mezcal as an ingredient in cocktails helps everyone in the broader alcohol consumption industry. Some bartenders still believe that it is not worth it to use a high quality expensive mezcal … Read moreMezcal and Dogmatism in Oaxaca: The Cocktail Craze (Part 3 of 7)

Mezcal and Dogmatism in Oaxaca: Reposados & Anejos (Part 2 of 7)

Some say you should never drink reposado or añejo mezcal.  When pressed for a reason they often state that it alters the natural flavors and aromas of the agave.  True enough, but so what? Could one not equally use the word “enhances?” The same industry people, often owners and employees of mezcalerías, however, don’t think twice about encouraging … Read moreMezcal and Dogmatism in Oaxaca: Reposados & Anejos (Part 2 of 7)