Mezcal has only had a Denomination of Origin (Denomination of Mezcal) since the 28th November 1994, which makes it a pretty young category if we want to compare with other spirits.
Despite this, Mexico has been producing it for a good few hundred years – so long that some people say that mezcal is the oldest spirit made on the American continent.
After it’s cousin, tequila, got its denomination in 1974, mezcal was somehow left out. As a result, until recently, mezcal was mainly only consumed by the makers and their friends, families and communities. Then, BOOM! Like an explosion, mezcal burst onto the scene. In fact, an article written in a magazine circulating the Mexican state of Oaxaca stated that: “in 2018 Mexico produced 6 million litres of mezcal, our of which 2.5 million was consumed in Mexico and 3.5 million was exported to the world. This is a 25% growth in just a year.”
And we had all seen it grow. It was by no means a subtle appearance – mezcal arrived with all the characteristic strength of agave to be the centre of the show! It rapidly displaced some of the forgotten liquors on the back shelves of bars, taking the place of some of the 100s of gins, vodkas, or rums.
There was a time, perhaps 15 years ago, when a cocktail bar would have on offer maybe one or two tequilas, a handful of whiskies, gin, rums, vodkas, liquors, perhaps one cachaça, one pisco, one grappa, and maybe – just maybe – one mezcal. Yes! That one over there with the worm in it.
“It was by no means a subtle appearance – mezcal arrived with all the characteristic strength of agave to be the centre of the show!”
But now we are in the midst of an era where we are trying to reconnect ourselves with the natural world, and people start noticing that agave spirits are made from such an energetic and amazing plant, one that is connected with all her senses to Mother Earth.
So now we at Speciality Brands are on the lookout for small brands, small producers, genuinely in every possible way, and looking to shine a light on them. Hopefully that way, we are helping someone at the end of the chain (or at least this is how I see it in ‘Gaby’s world’).
These days, you go to the bars and notice they may still have the one pisco, one cachaça, one grappa, but then they’ve also got at least five tequilas and three mezcals, from different producers, different species of agave, different techniques, and different states of Mexico. I mean, there is nothing like the biodiversity of mezcal, and that’s part of what makes its entrance so dramatic. I like to think of mezcal as a beautiful Mexican lady entering a bar, saying “I am here to stay!” That is what I see when I see all these bars with such a wonderful selection of mezcals and tequilas.
“I like to think of mezcal as a beautiful Mexican lady entering a bar, saying ‘I am here to stay!'”
So if you are not a fan of mezcal yet, give it a try – there is a mezcal out there for every palate.