Nice thread! I was drinking whiskey tonight, but after coming across this I poured some Del Maguey Tobala.
Tobala is Oaxacan Mezcal made not from the typical Espadin, but rather wild, mountain-grown Agave that may only be harvested once a year. With wild grown agave, the pinas are about a third the size of the pinas of farmed agave. The flavors are off the charts compared to farm grown, IMHO.
Love this thread. Outside of Whiskey, Mezcal is what I reach for most.
couple of articles worth reading about the current state of Tequila manufacturing:
and the attached .pdf
Interesting point about the agricultural practices with Agave, though, especially with the recent Agave crop shortage about a decade back. What if disease hits?
I'm glad to see that I am justified in my choice of tequila-- Siembra Azul and Siete Leguas. I'd love to try Tequila Ocho, but I can't get any in PA.
Well, if Tequila does get too over-done... there is always Mezcal and Sotol.
He's perhaps a little quick to lay all of the practices he decries at the feet of the big, international spirits companies, always an easy target. As I understand it, many of these practices are home-grown. I haven't done a Tequila tour but I've heard about this stuff from people who have, about industrial enzymes and other chemicals used to enhance conversion, etc. I wish tequila experts would write more about individual producers and their practices since talking about brands is largely useless. Many if not most of the brands sold in the U.S. are not associated with a particular distillery.
Sipped some La Familia from Cuervo last night. This was uber expensive when it firat came out and the bottle still goes for $80 plus. Luckily this bottle was a gift.
It is candy in a glass as far as tequila goes.
Interesting info - first I've heard of Sotol.
I'll pick some up this weekend and give it a shot... doesn't taste like Gin, does it? Any specific brands or expressions to look out for?
Wade – I am going back to Mexico again in June, and I plan to go back at least once this year after that. I am extremely interested in generating a table that clarifies as many producers’ profiles on the following issues so that we can make more informed purchases:
-The use of autoclaves vs. hornos
-The use of diffusers vs. other traditional methods
-The use of additives or chemicals
-The fermentation process
-Marketing and packaging procedures
Yes, Alison’s article only mentioned three brands because these are the only brands available in Texas that really can claim to be making the right decisions on the above issues. There are others still making good tequila, Herradura (now under Brown-Foreman ownership) is a good example – they use a diffuser without additives and have been doing so a few years prior to heir acquisition. I haven’t been to Herradura, and I don’t think it was as good as it once was, but overall, I think they still remain generally committed to traditions – at least for the time being. Partida would be another example of a producer that generally follows quality-driven guidelines for production, but their use of autoclaves (though they do roast for longer periods) is something that is never going to jive well with me.
The bottom-line here is that large brands of tequila don’t necessarily constitute entirely bad brands of tequila, but there are very few examples, if any, that indicate that a larger corporate takeover has not interfered with the quality of the tequila produced. The big issue, however, is that it just isn’t feasible for big business, regardless of how religiously devoted they remain to quality, to sell tequila at levels equivalent to spirits produced from agricultural crops with annual growth cycles. I don’t care who you are. It is time to reconsider what tequila will mean to us in the future because it cannot be sold in large quantities and still exist in the same way it once did.
I used to advocate El Tesoro as well, but over the last year I’ve been hearing some very disturbing things about that brand – moreso than normal. If these rumors are true, I don’t think it will be something that maintains any level of quality going forward. Maybe they will surprise us, but everything I am hearing now suggests that all decisions about quality are being made by the folks you don’t want making those decisions. I’d stock up on old stuff around town if I were you.
What's the richest, earthiest, smokiest Mezcal? Given I love spicy rye and the peatier/smokier the better on my Scotch - what should I look for in Mezcal that I might get a bang out of.
If Thomas Handy, Four Roses Single Barrel, and Ardbeg Uigadale/Laphroaigh Cask Strength are my favorite offerings among the "browns" as it were, what might I like in a mezcal, sotol or even tequila?