On the evening of January 15, 2016, during the busy San Antonio Cocktail Conference weekend, Tequila Aficionado’s Mike Morales was invited to sit in on mezcal historian and author Ulises Torrentera’s Arte del Mezcal class and discussion.
As a bonus, the event was sponsored by the luscious Wahaka Mezcal brand and moderated and translated by its co-founder, Raza Zaidi.
The course, endorsed by mezcal’s regulating body, the Consejo Regulador del Mezcal (CRM), through its official document CRM/PD-069/15, would cover four main topics–
Pre-Hispanic beverages, raw material (maguey/agave), distillation and mezcal’s invention, as well as its history, myths, legends, culture and beyond.
The event was held at the intimate El Mirador Mexican restaurant and featured a delicious menu to accompany the entire line of Wahaka mezcals and Sr. Torrentera’s discourse.
Ulises, considered a preeminent mezcal historian and icon, is the author of “Mezcalaria, The Cult of Mezcal,” and the owner of In Situ Mezcaleria in Oaxaca, Mexico.
Arte del Mezcal Highlights
Introduction to Wahaka Mezcal
In the following snippet, co-founder, Raza Zaidi, introduces Wahaka’s core line of mezcals and the “one-off” creations by their maestro mezcalero, Alberto Morales.
Clay Pot Distillation
With a GoPro attached, another palenquero demonstrates the very rare method of mezcal fermentation and distillation in clay pots.
Raza later explained that such a technique was implemented because it was easily mobile and allowed movement to avoid authorities from confiscating copper stills.
The Legend of Mayahuel and the 400 Rabbits
Translated by Raza, Ulises explains what pulque is and the legend of Mayahuel and her 400 Rabbits.
Mezcal is More than the Sum of its Parts
According to Ulises, mezcal is produced using approximately 28 distinct varieties of maguey (agave), but there are many more variables that affect the final outcome.
As Raza Zaidi of Wahaka explains, mezcal is more than the sum of its parts.
Co-founder, Raza, explains what compelled him and his partners to bring Wahaka mezcal to the world.
In whatever city you happen to be in, if you can catch Ulises Torrentera, Raza Zaidi, and the rest of the crew of Wahaka Mezcal, do so.
Your education on mezcal and mezcal production depends on it!