[On a sweltering August afternoon, Tequila Aficionado Media was invited by Mike Groener, CEO and President of Genius Liquids to sip and savor the latest addition to their Desert Spirit line, Texas Sotol, at their distillery in Austin, TX .]
Here Comes the Rain Again
Ask anyone who has spent any significant amount of time living in the Desert Southwest during Monsoon Season, and they will tell you that they can smell rain. At those times, your part of town may be sunny and bone dry, but a strong breeze will carry the scent of falling raindrops for miles. Sooner or later, the skies darken, thunder rolls, lightning strikes and the floodgates open.
Similarly, those who have sampled significant amounts of tequila or mezcal during their lifetimes will admit to the elusive “wet cement” flavor profile evocative of rain hitting a hot, dry sidewalk.
The latter is so rare these days with tequilas attempting to become smoother and more neutralized, and mezcals being distilled at the more accepting entry level 80 proof (40% ABV) than traditional higher strengths.
But try to describe true sotol such as Don Cuco as I meekly attempted to in Tom Barry’s insightful article, A Sotol Story , and you can fumble to find the words.
“To me, Don Cuco Sotol carries the best of all worlds. It opens up — blooms — so much that it demands to be treated like a fine wine. It has the smokiness of some of the best mezcals, but the flavor is simultaneously reminiscent of the best tequilas and then, not at all.”
The best descriptor that one can come up with is that sotol made in Chihuahua, Mexico smells and tastes like desert rain falling in that region. It is arguably the truest illustration of the term terroir.
But what does Texas Sotol represent? That’s what we came to Genius Liquids’ headquarters to find out.
Mike Groener describes Genius Liquids’ humble beginnings and explains the process and challenges in producing Genius Gins and their new Texas Sotol.
The use of champagne yeast was at the suggestion of tequila Siembra Azul’s maker, David Suro, whom Mike met through John Garrett, a friend and spirits supervisor at distributor Victory Wine Group based in Dallas.
Here, Mike discusses more about the inspiration to use champagne yeast in his spirits.
Conscientious Objector to Vodka
Genius Liquids distills three types of gin (standard strength, navy strength, oaked), and Texas sotol, but no vodka. Distilling something “odorless and tasteless doesn’t represent any piece of art” according to Groener.
To learn more about Chihuahua’s native spirit, Groener did his homework. Through his relationship with Garrett, he has met Judah Kuper, co-founder of Mezcal Vago and spent time at Judah’s family mezcal palenque.
Groener admits that Genius Liquids is a bit egotistical when it comes to deciding what to distill, and prefers a challenge instead of the easy way out.
Sotol By Any Other Name
This lovely spirit of Mexico is not without its controversy.
Sotol from Chihuahua, Mexico is distilled using the dasylirion wheeleri plant, more commonly known as desert spoon or sereque in Spanish.
Genius Gin’s Desert Spirit Texas Sotol, however, uses North American sotol orDasylirion texanumgrown, wild harvested, cooked, fermented, and distilled in Texas. This variety has evolved into a more compacted and hardier plant, designed to survive the harsh Texas summers.
All dasylirions were at one time considered distant relatives of the agave (agavaceae), but it is actually more akin to asparagus.
Mike furthers the debate and recounts the labeling issues concerning the word sotol, and why Genius Liquids prefers to brand it through their Desert Spirit line.
Texas Hill Country in A Bottle
Mike Groener pours a sample of Texas Sotol into my three types of glassware. Unlike tequila, and to some degree, mezcal, sotol still does not have an official tasting glass. Lisa Pietsch, Tequila Aficionado Media’s COO, describes it as “Texas Hill Country in a bottle.”
Beam Me Up, Scotty!
Like Master Distiller, German González elaborating on how he came to create his opus, Tears of Llorona, Mike expounds on how, through their process, Genius Liquids has composed a transportive spirit in a “non-Auto-Tune way.”
Tails of The Funk
Much like Montelobo’s Dr. Ivan Saldaña’s love affair with mezcal’s funkiness, Mike demonstrates how he carefully uses the colas (tails) after distillation to enhance Genius Liquids’ Desert Spirit Sotol.
The Magic Ingredient
Careful not to get too technical with his method of distillation, but with the same umph of Carlos Camarena’s (Tequila Tapatío) passion, Groener breaks down the love involved in producing a Genius Liquids spirit.
The first batch of Desert Spirit Texas Sotol was so well received that it sold out within two weeks of being launched. The plan is to move Genius Liquids to larger digs due to the oppressive heat that prevents them from fermenting properly.
Groener spells out what the future holds for Genius Liquids and its expansion.
Off camera, Mike divulged that he’d like to wrestle with the challenge of producing a traditionally made Texas mezcal agave spirit, and has already sourced maguey for that project. There are also plans for a blended agricole rum.
In whatever direction Groener takes Genius Liquids, one can be sure that it will continue to seek, define and express the true meaning of Texas terroir–one small batch at a time.
[Between seminars during the Fourth Annual San Antonio Cocktail Conference, Tequila Aficionado Media was invited to the Ambhar Tequila Relaxation Lounge inside the historic Sheraton Gunter Hotel where we finally sampled each expression of this elusive brand with a jaded past.
The following day, we caught up with the new Ambhar CEO, Jaime Celorio, at the acclaimed Bohanan’s Restaurant while the staff prepared for the busy dinner shift.]
The Deceptive Dragonfly
In the spirits realm, and in particular, the tequila segment, brands come and go for a variety of reasons–
Either the juice is not up to par, or the ineptitude of the brand owners or importers causes a rift between them, or the marketing is all wrong. You name it, it happens.
Every once in a while, a brand gets lucky and all the elements click and a star is born.
Partida’s Gary Shansby, a self-proclaimed student of one of Patrón‘s founders, Martin Crowley, once declared that a tequila brand needed three things to be successful–
Good juice, a pretty bottle, and a symbol with a story.
Ambhar appeared to have all three.
On the other hand, a tequila label could experience the worst
case scenario, but for some reason, it just doesn’t go away.
The latter may be the perfect example of what happened to Ambhar tequila.
All That Glitters…
Launched in 2009, Ambhar was originally based in Austin, Texas, but made its big splash on the Las Vegas Strip.
Owing to key friendships among the principals, Ambhar became a part of the Tropicana Hotel’s facelift in 2010 and established the Ambhar Lounge.
More key relationships allowed the brand to have a very visible presence, especially among the MGM properties. Ambhar soon became Las Vegas’ go-to tequila for many events including several outdoor pool parties during the warmer months.
Then, things began to unravel.
After unbridled spending, Ambhar accrued a rumored debt of up to $2 million. Another round of funding gave it a much needed infusion of $2.7 million from investors in 2011, but still, rumblings of unpaid bills and payrolls persisted.
To make matters worse, a series of ho-hum reviews, including this scathing blog by the OC Weekly, made Ambhar the butt of jokes among the tequila cognoscente who took particular issue with the label’s claims of being distilled five times.
It seemed that the powers behind Ambhar at that time had been blinded by the glitz and glam of Las Vegas, and paid a hefty price.
Saving A Broken Brand
Coming from a solid financial background, Jaime Celerio, CEO of the newly formed Ambhar Global Spirits, LLC., explains what attracted him to purchase the troubled label in 2013.
Here, Jaime explains the dilemmas of taking over a broken brand and what is being done now to revive it.
Further, he illustrates the problems in dealing with the Nevada market, and which states Ambhar will target, instead.
Overhauling the former sales and marketing division, Jaime Celorio has surrounded himself with both a young, enthusiastic crew along with some premier seasoned veterans to reestablish a foothold in Ambhar’s home state of Texas.
Damage control, and distancing itself from the past, also requires making some improvements to the packaging.
No tinkering will be done to the substantial and elegant bottle, but the corks will be changed from real to synthetic, and the stoppers, as well as the wearable dragonfly charm around the bottlenecks, will be made of a much lighter alloy.
To continue to win back customer loyalty and regain goodwill,
Celorio insists on concentrating on Ambhar’s strong points by demanding complete honesty and transparency on the website, subsequent point of sales (POS) materials, and from his sales team.
The More Things Change
When we met with the Ambhar Texas unit, they admitted that Jaime Celorio felt the brand itself would not have survived its tumultuous circumstances had the juice not been favorable in the first place.
Celorio next discloses the reason why Ambhar’s flavor profile, especially that of its añejo, remains intact even though it’s more labor intensive than the reposado expression.
In this snippet, Celorio recounts the improvements since rebooting the brand, and its focus for the future which includes sales in Mexico and exporting to China.
Here, Celorio discusses the focus on the dragonfly logo and what it means in China.
It’s Not All About Tequila
Like a good portfolio manager, Jaime Celorio has diversified by establishing a sister company to compete in the vodka sector of the spirits market.
The Texas Vodka Trail
In this clip, Celorio reveals plans for Cinco Vodka’s distillery based in San Antonio, Texas.
Cinco Vodka–Imported All the Way From Texas
Jaime further reviews plans for the Texas Vodka Trail Tour and its similarities to tequila distillery tours in Mexico in aiding to educate consumers.
In this portion, Celorio considers how competitive the vodka market is in Mexico, and where you can find Cinco Vodka.
Jaime Celorio, gives his explanation as to why he chose to sell tequila in the first place.
Same Old Friend, Whole New Character
Described as his “elevator pitch,” Jaime Celorio, gives us the one thing he wants people to know about Ambhar, and shares his vision for its future.
Whether in the US, Mexico, or even China, look for the recalibrated Ambhar tequila to continue to make splashes, but in a much more precise, targeted and cost effective way.
By now, many of you may have already seen both of these distasteful photos on Diddy’s Instagram account for his new venture with Diageo and DeLeón tequila that began in early 2014.
Dressed in his trademark dark suit, Diddy attempts to sacrifice a blue agave piña while at the same time asking for a moment of silence for “Mr. Pat Ron,” a thinly veiled dig against beverage behemoth, Patrón.
Those in the Tequila Community who make their living day after day selling,
serving and producing tequila, as well as growing and harvesting agave, have been outraged at the clownish way in which Diddy and Diageo have disrespected and belittled the value of one of the last major pillars left in Tequila Culture–the jimador (agave harvester).
In an age where modern technology and cost saving methods like the diffuser have been introduced in the Tequila Industry to replace everything from donkeys to bottlers to label applicators, the one skill that it has not yet been able to replace entirely is the hard labor of the jimador.
Those who have seen these men in action, and those of us who have tried to hack off the pencas (leaves) from a blue agave piña using a razor sharp coa, know that it’s not as easy as it looks.
The following video is courtesy of the Tequila Interchange Project, a non-profit organization and consumer advocacy group for agave distilled spirits made up of key influencers such as bartenders, consultants, teachers, researchers, consumers and tequila aficionados. It illustrates just how arduous this work is, and the dangers these men face each day for minimal pay.
For Diddy to be allowed to be photographed attempting a jima wearing a suit and spotless shoes was unconscionable. It makes light of the skill and experience of these journeymen laborers, as well their hardships, in a deplorable and condescending way.
Diddy Commits Commercial Suicide with DeLeón Tequila
If it’s true that Diddy knows what liquor Millennials want to drink as he states in this November 2014 article in Fortune, and wants to “disrupt how [liquor advertising] has been done,” he has already failed miserably.
The self-proclaimed tastemaker has proven to be very successful in everything he touches. From music and clothing, to spirits and even reality TV, Diddy has left his indelible mark with sophistication and style. So, when he hooked up with Diageo once more for DeLeón tequila, we expected more from him.
We expected this $700 million dollar mogul to immerse himself in Tequila Culture. To get to know the process and the people of the new spirit he was embracing, and to bring a fresh look to an otherwise unremarkable brand like DeLeón.
We expected he would slap on some Sean John boots and venture out into the
agave fields to absorb its magic. Who knows? Maybe he would become inspired to design a whole new line of menswear made from agave fibers that would appeal to all ethnicities, just as he desires to do with DeLeón’s advertising.
How’s that for doubling your ROI and gaining street cred?
There are two official schools in Mexico that train people to be certified catadores (tequila tasters). One is actually a faction of the original school established in 2000 and known as the Academia Mexicana del Tequila (Mexican Tequila Academy).
1.) Durante todo el proceso de cata, no debe haber communicación entre los catadores.
(During the entire tasting, there should be no communication among the tasters
2) Recuerde que un gesto o cualquier otra actitud de aprobación o desaprobación, puede influir en la opinión de los otros participantes. Su opinión, sea cual fuere, debe ser reflejada en la cédula de cata, y si tuviera opiniones o comentarios extra-calificación, es importante que utilice el reverso de la cédula correspondiente a la muestra que está evaluando.
(Keep in mind that any gesture of approval or disapproval can influence the opinion of the other judges. Whatever your opinion, it should be reflected on the scoring sheet and if you have opinions or extra comments (ratings), it’s important to use the reverse side of the scoring sheet of the sample you are evaluating.)
3.) Antes y durante el transcurrir de la cata no es conveniente fumar, ya que el tabaco disminuye la capacidad de percepción sensorial y sus apreciaciones podrían estar afectadas y el humo afectará a los otros catadores.
(Before and during the course of the tasting, it is not convenient to smoke since tobacco diminishes one’s sensorial capacities and perceptions. Your assessments may be affected and the smoke will affect the other tasters [judges].)
6.) Antes de iniciar el catado, ponga en su boca un pequeño sorbo de un destilado neutro (se recomienda vodka simple) páselo por toda la boca y finalmente elimínelo, este ejercicio hará que su boca quede limpia de sabores extraños o anteriores y la preparará para una mejor percepción.
(Before the inception of the tasting, place a small sip of a neutral [grain] spirit (plain vodka is recommended), swish it around in your mouth and spit it out. This practice cleanses your mouth of strange or previous flavors and prepares
you for a better perception [evaluation]).
7.) Antes de calificar el sabor de la primera muestra, se recomienda poner en la boca un primer sorbo y moverlo por toda ella, eliminarlo y con un segundo sorbo emitir su calificación sobre el sabor.
(Before scoring the first sample on its flavor, it is recommended to take the first sip and swish it inside your entire mouth and spit it out. With the second sip, express (record) your score on the flavor.)
8.) Tómese el tiempo necesario para evaluar cada muestra, no lo haga apresuradamente, y sobre todo concéntrese en la muestra en turno. ¡CONCENTRACIÓN ES EL NOMBRE DEL JUEGO!
(Take the time necessary to evaluate each sample. Don’t be in a hurry, and above all, concentrate on the current sample. CONCENTRATION IS THE NAME OF THE GAME!)
9.) Recuerde que es su percepción y opinión, sobre la muestra en turno, la que vale y no el qué o cómo pudiere parecerle a otra persona.
(Remember that it’s your perception and opinion over the current sample that counts and not how someone else might perceive it.)
10.) No intente hacer comparaciones; no tiene que conectar la muestra en turno con alguna marca en particular; realice su evaluación como si cada una de las muestras fuera única. Cada una de las muestras tendrá sus propias características, positivas o negativas, sus cualidades, atributos y esos son los que deben contar para usted, de acuerdo con los parámetros de la categoría y clase de la muestra, ya que esto es finalmente lo que se busca.
(Do not attempt to make comparisons. Do not connect the current sample to a particular brand. Carry out your evaluations as if each sample were unique. Each one of the samples will have its own characteristics, positive or negative, its own qualities and attributes, and those are what you should depend (rely) upon in accordance with the parameters of the category and type of the
sample as that is ultimately what is looked for.)
11.) Es importante que al pasar de una a otra muestra, elimine el sabor de la anterior con un poco de galleta sin sal y agua.
(It is important that after each sample, you cleanse its flavor [from your palate] with a bit of plain soda cracker and water.)
12.) Elimine el sorbo de cada muestra evaluada, al final de la cata podrá beber de las muestras que prefiera.
(Eliminate the sip of each sample evaluated. At the end of the cata (tasting) you’ll be able to drink from the samples you preferred.)
13.) Es de vital importancia que para evaluar cada categoría y clase de tequila, tome en consideración el parámetro o perfil correspondiente, esas deben ser sus referencias al calificar la categoría y clase. Al reverso de la ficha, encontrará perfiles generales para la categoría 100% de agave y cada clase. Al reverso de la cédula encontrará estos perfiles generals.
(It is vitally important that to evaluate each category and type of tequila that you take into consideration the corresponding parameter or profile. Those should be your references to score the category and type. On the reverse side of the scoring card you’ll find general descriptions for the category of 100% de agave [tequila] and each type. On the reverse side of your identification card, you will [also] find these general descriptions.)
14.) Es indispensable que antes de iniciar el catado, anote en todas sus cédulas su nombre. Y una vez que emita sus calificaciones para cada muestra, realice la suma de puntos total, anotando este resultado en el lugar destinado para ello y que registre esta calificación en su hoja personal de control.
(It is indispensable that before the tasting, you write your names on all of the scoring sheets. Once you’ve graded each sample, total up the points and write the sum in the space provided and register this evaluation on your personal control sheet.)
15.) Circule la calificación para cada concepto de evaluación (visual, olfativo, sabor), no palomee, no cruce ni tache los números de la calificación.
(Circle the grade for each component of evaluation (visual, olfaction, flavor). Do not deliberately “fudge,” cross out or eliminate numbers from the score.)
16.) Las copas con las muestras, han sido ordenadas de izquierda a derecha en
dos líneas: de la 1 a la 5 y atrás de la 6 a la 10. En esa misma secuencia deberá realizarse la cata, destapando exclusivamente la copa de la muestra que va a evaluar y volviéndola a tapar al pasar a la siguiente.
(The glasses with the samples are in order from left to right in two lines: from 1 to 5, and in back from 6 to 10. The tasting should be done in the same sequence, uncovering only the glass of the sample you are evaluating, and then recovering it before moving on to the next one.)
17.) En general recuerde la capacitación que sobre catado ha recibido.
(In general, remember the tequila tasting training you have received.)
Considere que su evaluación de cada muestra es en extremo valiosa y que con sus calificaciones estará afectando positiva o negativamente a esa muestra y por tanto a una marca en particular que se expende en el mercado, por lo que se debe realizar con extrema imparcialidad y absoluta honestidad.
(Consider that your evaluation of each sample is extremely valuable. Your scores will affect, either positively or negatively, that sample and therefore, a particular brand coming onto the retail market. It should be carried out with extreme impartiality and absolute honesty.)
On the wall of The Pastry War, a world renowned mezcalería and restaurant in the heart of Houston, TX, this chalkboard message proudly explains why owners, outspoken agave advocates Bobby Heugel and Alba Huerta, staunchly refuse to serve tequilas and mezcals produced with a diffuser.
In their view, it’s a battle between traditional methods of tequila [and mezcal] production which yields “delicious tequila [or mezcal],” versus more cost-conscious methods adopted by distilleries that produce “a shitty version of tequila [or mezcal].”
Let’s look more closely at this cursed contraption.
Using only hot water and sulfuric acid to extract up to 98%-99% of the sugars from raw, uncooked agave, the resultant tequila, as described by noted agave lover, Fortaleza tequila brand ambassador and blogger, Khyrs Maxwell, in his detailed instructional post, There May Be Too Much Agave in Your Tequila or Mezcal tastes like…
“…what I would consider to have a chemical/medicinal taste–sometimes slight, sometimes overbearing flavor profile that always seems to overshadow the beauty of the agave.”
He further states that it “tastes very much like vodka” and has coined the term “AgaVodka.”
“So if you come across a tequila or mezcal made with a difusor, the only way that there can be “notes of cooked agave” is by adding that flavor during the finishing process. They can add “notes of cooked agave?” Why, yes. Yes they can…I’ve seen and smelled the additive. It does exist.”
Maxwell’s statement above excludes the use of authorized additives to blanco (unaged) tequila, of course.
As of December 2012, such practices have been outlawed by the CRT in its normas (rules and regulations governing the production of tequila). It remains to be seen how well it will be enforced, however, so your pricey, Fruit Loop scented blanco may still be safe for a year or two until inventories are depleted.
Spanish diffuser manufacturer, Tomsa Destil, offers a closer look at the mega-masher and its process, which seem to go hand-in-hand with column distillation.
The site mentions that they have installed 12 diffusers for use in agave processing, but makes no mention of their clients, nor if sulfuric acid to extract sugars from agave is also needed.
While controversy swirls around the use of a diffuser, most educated tequila aficionados understand that it is not illegal to do so. In fact, its application was accepted by the CRT some time ago.
As we mentioned in item #5 of our Craft Tequila Gauntlet, diffuser use by a distillery is a closely guarded secret even though it is a fairly large piece of machinery to try to hide. There is a stigma attached to it, with most distilleries that have one completely denying that any of their star brands are processed with it.
While most of the Tequila Industry’s heavy hitters are known to possess diffusers, many also own regular shredders, autoclaves and even stone ovens. Ask any major brand owner whose tequila is produced at these maquiladoras (large production facilities that churn out juice for contracted brands) whether they are a by-product of a diffuser, and they vehemently deny it.
The historic tequila maker initially implemented the super shredder during the last great agave crisis of the late 90s. Years later, it was taken to task by an organized group of key concerned mixologists and tequila supporters who refused to use Herradura in their cocktails or to include it in their bar menus due to a drastic change in its original flavor profile and quality. Herradura finally succumbed and stopped using it for that label.
In the following screen captures of a Twitter chat from May 1, 2014, Ruben Aceves, Casa Herradura’s Director of International Brand Development, admits that the diffuser is now only used for their Antiguo, El Jimador, and Pepe Lopez brands.
Destilería Leyros, producers of their flagship brand, Tequila Don Fermin and many others, bills itself as a model for modern and efficient tequila making.
It was proudly represented that way even in the wildly popular Spanish language telenovelaDestilando Amor, where it stood in for the then fictional Destilería Montalvo.
Enrique Legorreta Carranco, one of the owners of Leyros, agreed to answer some of our questions and to try to help dispel the myths and mysteries surrounding the diffuser.
“I am aware about the controversy of using difusor [Spanish spelling] in the tequila process. Here are some key factors and benefits of the process in order to be firm with the press:
“In fact, there is nothing to hide and we are willing to receive tequila bloggers, media or people from Tequila Aficionado in order to know first hand this innovative and ecological process.”
“The difusor extracts the agave juice first of all, followed by the cooking of the agave juice to extract the agave sugars. This cooked agave juice is called the agua miel. In traditional process they first cooked the agave followed by the agave juice extraction. We obviously need to cook the agave juice in order to get its sugars in order to be able to be fermentated (biological process where sugar turns into alcohol).”
[We’ll note that Sr. Legorreta took issue with the portrayal of the tastes and essences of tequilas produced with a diffuser as described by some bloggers, believing them to be too subjective.]
“This process gives to the taster a more herbal, clean and citric experience. Also this process is more efficient and as a result gives a tequila with better standards in methanol, aldehydes and other compounds not desired because at high levels produces hangovers.”
Traditional Process vs. Modern Technology
“We respect a lot [the] traditional process. The only thing we believe is that the consumer has the last word to choose between one tequila flavor from another.
“There are people that prefer the traditional strong flavor from tequila. Other people are preferring tequilas [that are] more pure, citric with subtle notes of fresh agave like if you are smelling [the] agave and [the] land.”
Reiterating what was demonstrated in the videos above, Sr. Legorreta explains…
“A difusor process uses less than 50% of energy, and less than 60% of water used in traditional processes to produce same quantities of liters. Additional to this [at the] Leyros Distillery we recycle the bagasse that we get in the last phase of the difusor. All this with our completely self-sufficient green boiler is fueled with bagasse from our own mill.”
About That Stigma…
“About why many distilleries denied they have a difusor, I can guess without knowing a reason from first hand–that is because traditional process with ovens sounds more romantic than the technology of a difusor.”
“In fact, a lot of distilleries focus their marketing efforts around traditional processes. I guess this is working. If not, I [suppose] they would be focusing more in the tasting notes of the final product.”
Indeed, Destilería Leyros’ website and videos play on the romance using a smattering of phrases as, “It tastes like countryside, like fire in your blood,” and “Like a passionate kiss, the Taste of Mexico.”
A New Style
In much the same manner as importers, brand owners, and maestro tequileros defend
(and advertise in their marketing materials!) the use of additives in their aged tequilas (“finished and polished”), Sr. Legorreta asserts that juice made with a diffuser is simply another style of tequila.
“The essence of tequila is the agave, and both processes distill agave, just in different ways. There are some people that love traditions [and] there are others that like to innovate and improve things.”
Just as Leyros’ website and videos “invites you to taste and compare, and then let your palate decide which tequila you’d rather raise in a toast,” Sr. Legorreta concludes:
“At the end of the day, or the end of the history, [it] is the consumer [who] chooses their tequila without a bias in the information.”
Some Truths to Consider
The Leyros videos above claim to use machinery as a way to “considerably reduce the risk of injury” to the people on their workforce. Yet, as Maxwell points out…
“Not only is the difusor a way to pump out product, it also uses a very small labor force. As more distilleries use the difusor, there will be less jobs available to those, who for hundreds of years, have built towns and created families by working in the agave distillate industry. So what happens to the unemployed? …do they leave for the US to become illegal immigrants? Or do they work for the narcos?”
At the risk of being redundant, it bears repeating what noted agave ethno-botanist, Ana Valenzuela said about the diffuser here…
“…to prohibit the use of diffusers (in hydrolysis of agave juices) that takes the “soul” (the flavor of baked agave) out of our native distillates, singular in the world for its complexities of aromas and flavors.”
In conclusion, if current figures are correct, exports of tequila rose 16% to US$568 million in the first six months of 2014, compared to the same period last year. It is expected that China will import 10 million liters of tequila in the next 5 years.
Where will Mexico find enough agave to serve their thirsty customers?
These guys know where.
Turning A Blind Eye
On September 4, 2014, dozens of mezcaleros (mezcal producers) dumped 200 liters of mezcal onto the streets of Oaxaca City in protest for their government’s lack of support against tequileros from Jalisco who are allegedly raiding tons of espadín and other maguey (agave), the prime ingredient in mezcal, to produce tequila.
In the process, say Maestros del Mezcal Tradiciónal del Estado de Oaxaca (a trade association) 15 of the 32 varieties of maguey native to Oaxaca are in danger of becoming extinct.
Thanks to these transnational maguey marauders, the burgeoning mezcal industry’s days are numbered, it seems.
If indeed a diffuser strips away the agave’s regional characteristics leaving behind a more citric, vodka-like, cookie cutter flavor profile that easily lends itself to clandestine adulteration, over distillation and multiple barrel blendings, then what’s to keep these pirate tequileros from pilfering agave from outside the requisite growing states and using a diffuser to crank out “tequila?”
These days, filling orders to emerging world markets is more important than the blatant disregard for the Denomination of Origin.