17 Responses

  1. […] More in-depth information can be found on Mezcal PhD. […]

  2. Rachel Glueck at |

    Hooray for the changes! Let’s hope it’s only up from here.
    One question: when you say MAY include maguey fibers in fermentation and distillation…what are they using if not maguey fibers??

    Reply
    1. Jesús Montemayor at |

      Rachel,

      Some producers, with the intention of optimizing the fermentation and distillation process, extract all the juices from the fiber using water and other substances, thus eliminating the fiber from the process. This also eliminates some wonderful flavors and aromas from the final product.

      Reply
      1. Mezcal PhD at |

        Jesus, thanks for chiming in. Of course, you are correct! Though I have by no means seen all the palenques of the premium brands which are imported into the US, I would bet all, or almost all, do use the maguey fibers in both fermentation and distillation.

        Reply
  3. […] latest update is that it sounds like the NORMA as proposed in meetings across Mexico and in a recent presentation by Danny Mena in NY is going to become law. The really big news is that Erick’s definition of a traditional […]

  4. Juan at |
    Reply
    1. Mezcal PhD at |

      Agree on these. Thanks for the contribution.

      Reply
  5. Craig Denton at |

    John, i’m constantly amazed at your passion and appreciate the sharing. Of course the best sharing is when we are drinking this wonderful libation together.

    Reply
    1. Mezcal PhD at |

      I’ll drink to that!

      Reply
  6. Mezcal PhD at |

    Good point from one of my readers who sent this via email

    “John, there’s no CRM still. Even if the reasons to change the name for COMERCAM are very accurate, they will have to publish this in the Diario Oficial de la Federación DOF, in order to make legal this changes.”

    Mezcal Añil Team

    Reply
  7. Experience Mezcal at |

    John,

    Thanks for the update (and the props!).

    I realize and appreciate that you, I, and most of us agree this proposal is a step in the right direction. I’m just trying to support it a bit more strongly with these comments.

    The CRM very clearly wants mezcal to emulate Cognac’s DO more than that of Tequila, in many respects. One is opting for an insistence on quality and luxury pricing over volume and well pricing. I’m not sure where “the premium white spirit in the world” goal is stated, but if it’s from CRM, I’m sure they mean that in terms of reputation and prestige, not volume at a certain price point. The classifications of “artisanal” and “ancestral” are of course, in part, intended to create a price floor for the more authentic processes.

    I think the case of Cognac is illustrative too in terms of having a (to me) fairly complex system of classification / ranking, and Cognac by all accounts seems to be doing just fine. If we nurture and protect mezcal as a spirit category, these classifications _will_ become meaningful to the consumer. Again, in my estimation the goal is to increase the _quality_ of the consumer and establish a price floor that protects the producers, not to increase market share willy-nilly. The fact is that right now, _any_ mezcal can put “artisanal” on its label, and with this proposal, that would actually mean something. We will always have consumers who reach for the cheapest option, as we will always have consumers who reach for the most expensive option. The advantage of this classificatory scheme is that their dollars would be allocated somewhat more appropriately than they are now.

    One last lesser, nit-picky point: I think the practical difference between “artisanal” and “ancestral” is greater than you state. The requirement to use agave fiber in both fermentation and distillation is most certainly meaningful. Also, switching from copper to clay would imply more than just buying cheap clay pots and accepting a slower process. Distilling with clay is a painstaking process that takes decades of tutelage under a maestro to truly master. The “investment” would in fact involve bringing someone with experience on board.

    Thanks again for the report. Please drop me a line when you are in Mexico. Saludos!

    Reply
    1. Mezcal PhD at |

      Clayton, thanks for the comments! I think you are right the “premium white spirit in the world” is oriented toward prestige and reputation. While I focused a bit erroneously on volume, mezcal will not achieve that without significant volume growth. But I agree with your point.

      I have no expertise in Cognac so I follow your lead that it is working there. With mezcal, I am with you all the way on the goals of the changes. I just hope that consumers begin to get educated on the differences between the categories. And I think we all know that this is not a 1 or 2yr process….but probably at least 5 and more likely 10 to 20yrs. It will take time for the category to develop further and consumer education to take root.

      On your last “nit-picky” point, I don’t mind the critique at all! My point was that if most of the premium brands in the U.S. switched from copper to clay pots their products would qualify for Ancestral – most are already doing it the old way (including the fibers). But agree with your comment that there is serious expertise involved with the mezcalero, and a copper still producer might not have the expertise to suddenly move to clay.

      All in all, thanks for adding to the discussion!

      Reply
  8. Mario at |

    Damn! ….I had no idea! Just the idea of agave fracking rings extremely hallow….sad. But in a way makes me feel better about new attempts by “CRT” to categorize and disclose.

    Reply
  9. Edward at |

    After some thought (and an liberal sampling of Los Amantes joven), I think I’m mostly in favor of these changes. This will fix a major issue I’ve had with trying to determine if I want to try a new mezcal, and that is knowing whether or not it is really artisanal. The bottle often supplies few clues, and just going with “no worm” isn’t sufficient (yea, I’m looking at you, “Z”). The new categories will make that much clearer. It’s also helpful to know what agave species was used, but if it’s not espadin, they often already put that on the bottle.

    I think the average consumer is reasonably well served by this change. If you want the good stuff you buy “artisanal” or “ancestral.” That’s not unlike recommending “100% agave” for the tequila consumers.

    I’d like to see them restrict additives at the end to only be allowed for the mezcal category, no additives allowed for artisanal or ancestral except during distillation as in pechugas.

    And what the heck is matured in glass? Spirits generally don’t change once they’ve been bottled.

    Reply
    1. Mezcal PhD at |

      Thanks for the great comments! I am glad to hear you think it will be useful. I am too wrapped in a world sometimes of thinking that people already know what to look for, when of course, you are right – many people do not and this will help. But I certainly agree, as I said in the article, that this a good move for mezcal. Thanks for the contribution!

      Reply
  10. Mario at |

    Great article John. What it a diffuser?

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    1. Mezcal PhD at |

      Here is a great article on diffusers by my amigos at Tequila Aficionado: http://tequilaaficionado.com/?p=9021

      They do the topic justice but it is basically a machine that extracts about 100% of the juice out of a raw agave pina without even cooking it – they blast it with high pressure water and sulfuric acid…yummy! That’s why many tequilas are not what they used to be. But read their article for more info!

      Reply

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