People ask me all the time how many bottles of mezcal I have. I look around my apartment and I see bottles stashed everywhere: closets, cabinets, laundry room, kitchen, billiard room, parlor, library, conservatory, observation wing, theater, gazebo, tanning room (for hides not skin of course), and even the laboratory! With all these rooms, how can I find them to count them? Well OK, maybe that is not really the set up in NYC apartment. But I do have a lot of bottles and they are spread out a bit, and I have never taken the time to count them up….until now….
So people ask how many bottles I have, and then they usually ask me how that stacks up to other mezcal fans or bars and restaurants. Do I have more mezcal than any individual in NYC? In the U.S.? Or do I have more mezcals than any bars in the City? Of course, I really don’t know the answer to any of these, though I suspect I have more mezcal than any bar. That really is not that hard when you realize that the bars are pretty much limited to what they can buy commercially in the U.S. – things like liquor laws, tax stamps, importers and distributors come into play, so they are handicapped. Whereas, a private collection is uninhibited by such restrictions. So if you buy what is commercially available in the U.S. (which I pretty much do), plus you bring back a lot of bottles from Mexico (which I also do), then it is hard for a bar to keep up with that due to the restrictions they face.
So yes, I THINK I have more mezcals than any bar in the country but I don’t know if I have more than any private collection here in NYC or beyond. In fact, I highly doubt it. My friends at Mezcalistas on the West Coast may be killing me! (But no combining collections Max and Susan). But I don’t know. That’s what this post is all about. Take the Mezcal Challenge!
Are there bottles in the US that I don’t have? Absolutely. I buy what interests me. I don’t buy to artificially expand my collection. For example, I love most of the Del Maguey line but I really don’t need all 18 of their bottles in my apartment! I’ve tried them all, and I buy the ones I really like. Also, budgetary and storage constraints come into play (we are actually renovating our apartment in part to create more mezcal storage space….really). But I still have acquired much of what is out there, and probably tasted almost all of it.
I have acquired it but that doesn’t mean I still have it. My mezcal collection, probably like yours, is a living and breathing entity. Bottles come in, bottles are consumed, bottles go out. And there is a fair amount of turnover here as I drink a LOT of mezcal (not all on my own mind you…OK, maybe most of it).
So the Mezcal Challenge is a snapshot in time. How many bottles of mezcal do you have RIGHT NOW? But first, we need a few rules. I know, I know. Mezcal don’t need no stinkin’ rules! But we had to have a few. And yes, there is of course subjectivity, but we needed a methodology to count our bottles. For example, I have a lot of little sample bottles, but should those count? It does not feel right to me since they disappear with one swig. So they are out. What about mezcals you may have brought back from Mexico that have no label? Fantastic. They are in. Or the 200ml flask that fits in your back pocket? I say yes. So you see, there are a few considerations, and I have clearly given it deep meditative thought….
Bottle Counting Rules:
- Size matters. No 2 ounce sample bottles. Size has to be 200ml or greater.
- Bacanora, Sotol, Distillates de Agave, and Raicilla count. You deserve the credit if you have some of these.
- Tequila does not count. No offense to tequila but this is about other agave distillates. My friends at Agave Idiots can run the Tequila Challenge.
- This is a unique bottle competition. What does that mean? Well, if you have a case of Ilegal Joven or Del Maguey Vida in a closet, that does not count as 6 bottles – it is just one. Even if you have 2 of your favorite bottles, it still only counts as 1. But if you have 4 different expressions from Pierde Almas, that’s 4. Unique bottles only.
- Different lots do not equal different bottles. This one is admittedly tricky. Different lots of the same brand can taste different for sure, but it is the same brand and same expression, so I am going to say it does not count. Tough call though and it would inflate my totals for sure.
- Honor system. Ernst and Young will not show up at your door seeking verification. Photographic evidence may be requested for bold claims!
Personal Category and Professional Category
As I am anticipating an onslaught of entries (Mario help me out here!), I will have two categories. The Personal Category for individuals and The Professional Category for bars and restaurants. Depending on the geographic breakdown of entries, I may make a few categories for the winners (like US, Europe, Mexico, International, etc). Many bars want to claim that they have the largest selection of mezcal (I know because they want to be included on my Mezcal Joints page and they make these types of claims). I get that. Submit your entry. Let’s see how it goes, and maybe some obvious sub-categories will develop. Or perhaps, I will only get a handful of submissions (lame). We will find out!
But man am I curious. I would love to know you if you are a serious collector of mezcal, and I would love to know what bar or restaurant has the largest mezcal selection in the US and beyond!
Throwing Down the Gauntlet
Since I am initiating the Mezcal Challenge, you probably want to know how many unique bottles I have in my collection??? Should I disclose now or wait until other entries come in? Well, I want to set the tone so I will disclose my current unique bottles count with the complete list at the end of this post. So…….
I have 142 unique bottles of mezcal currently in my possession.
I guess it is a good number but it seems small when I think of tequila collectors I know (Hello Mark!) who have something like 2,000 bottles in their private collections (though that is probably not unique bottles). But anyway, it feels small. Well not small small, but big small. With me? But maybe not. You tell me. What have you got?? You don’t even have to list them all – just give me a number.
I will publish the results. You can send me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or respond to this post. But either way, I will publish a results post in a few weeks time.
I am working on producing Mezcal PhD T-shirts – the logo design is in process. While not there yet, I will have these in the coming months, and that my friends will go to the lucky winners of the Mezcal Challenge!
So that’s it. I hope that some of you – any of you stake your claim to the title and give me a unique bottle count. And for the bars and restaurants out there, the crown of most mezcals in the US, London, Australia, Canada, Paris or wherever hopefully has some appeal! I look forward to any and all submissions!
So after many months and hundreds of submissions (would you believe dozens?), the results are in! A bit to my surprise, it appears that I have the largest private mezcal collection in the U.S. While no one from Mexico submitted a larger list, I would bet that my collection can be readily topped south of the border by more than a few people.
At any rate, I thank those that submitted their collections and here are some of the notable numbers:
Mario (“Marwinski”) 85 bottles (Hated mezcal 3yrs ago!)
Mezcal Review (Oaxacan writer) 54 bottles (Mexican winner!)
Eric Gunn (Ohio) 39 bottles (State Champ!)
Max (Mezcalistas) 40-ish (Turnover high – excessive consumption)
Ken (Mezcal journalist) 30-ish
Mike Jones (enthusiastic contributor) 15
Judah (Mezcal Vago) Unknown (Talks a big game – can prob back it up)
So there you have it! I owe T-shirts to Mario and Mezcal Review, though I have to make them first. They are extremely well-designed and super cool in my head, but I am slow to execute. But I will get there. I may send out some more freebies as well! Thanks to all for contributing!
And finally, here is my bottle list……and drink mezcal……
|1||3 Pueblos Reposado||Espadin|
|2||Agave de Cortes – 3yr Anejo||Espadin|
|3||Agave de Cortez Reposado with Worm||Espadin|
|4||Alipus San Andreas||Espadin|
|5||Alipus San Juan||Espadin|
|9||Bruxo No. 3||Barril|
|10||Bruxo No. 4||Espadin, Barril, Cuishe|
|21||Del Maguey Chichicapa – Cask Finish||Espadin|
|22||Del Maguey Crema||Espadin|
|23||Del Maguey San Luis del Rio Azul||Tequilana Weber|
|24||Destileria Tlacolulu Special 3||Tobala|
|25||Destileria Tlacolulu Special 4||Arroqueno|
|26||Destileria Tlocolula Special 1||Espadin with cannibus infusion|
|27||Destileria Tlocolula Special 2||Madrecuixe Pechuga|
|28||Don Amado Rustico||Espadin|
|29||El Amor Del Diablo||Papalote|
|31||El Cortija||Maguey Pulquero|
|33||El Jolgorio Special Bottling||Tepeztate|
|36||Espiritu Lauro Joven||Espadin|
|37||Espiritu Lauro Reposado||Espadin|
|40||Fidencio Sin Humo||Espadin|
|41||Gracias a Dios Mezcal||Tobala|
|42||Gracias a Dios Mezcal||Espadin|
|43||Gran Reserva Joya Anejo||Does Not Say|
|44||Hacienda de Chihuahua Sotol Anejo||Sotol|
|46||Ilegal Anejo – Special Bottling 2yr||Espadin|
|48||Ilegal Joven Special Bottling – 47%||Espadin|
|50||Ilegal Wine Barrel Aged||Espadin|
|53||Koch el Mezcal||Cirial, Tobasiche, Tobala, de Lumbre|
|54||La Fogata Anejo||Espadin|
|55||Los Amantes Reposado||Espadin|
|56||Los Danzantes Reposado||Espadin|
|57||Los Nahuales Anejo||Espadin|
|58||Luis Mendez Special Bottling||Coyote|
|59||Luis Mendez Special Bottling||Arroqueno|
|62||Mezcal Buen Viaje||Madrecuixe, Espadin|
|63||Mezcal Embajador Reposado||Unlabeled|
|66||Mezcal Marca Negra||Bicuishe, Espadin, Madrecuixe|
|67||Mezcal Marca Negra||Tobala|
|68||Mezcal Marca Negra||Arroqueno|
|69||Mezcal Marca Negra||Espadin|
|70||Mezcal Marca Negra||Dobadan|
|71||Mezcal Olla Zapoteca||Cuise|
|72||Mezcal Olla Zapoteca||Madrecuixe|
|73||Mezcal Rio Revuelto||Espadin, Madrecuishe|
|74||Mezcal Rojas Reposado||Cenizo|
|77||Mezcal Union||Espadin, Cirial, Barril|
|78||Mezcal Vago||77% Blanco, 23% Sierra Negra|
|79||Mezcal Vago||Cuixe, Espadin|
|81||Mezcal Vago||Coyote, Espadin, Mexicano|
|82||Mezcal Vago||Mexicano (93%), Espadin (7%)|
|84||Mezcal Vago||Tobala en Barro|
|85||Mezcal Vago Elote||Espadin|
|86||Mezcal Ven A Mi||Espadin|
|87||Mezcalero 10||Sierra Negra|
|88||Mezcalero 11||Madrecuishe, Bicuishe, Espadin|
|89||Mezcalero 2||Espadin, Tepeztate, Tobala|
|90||Mezcalero 3||Espadin, Mexicana|
|91||Mezcalero 4||Sierra Negra, Tepeztate|
|92||Mezcalero 5||Espadin, Tepeztate|
|93||Mezcalero 6||Mexicano, Madrecuixe, Bicuishe|
|94||Mezcalero 8||Mexicano, Madrecuixe, Tobala|
|96||Mezcales de Leyenda Durango||Durangensis|
|97||Mezcales de Leyenda Guerrero||Cupreata|
|100||Mezcaloteca||Espadin Con Mole|
|105||Mezcaloteca||Madrecuishe, Bicuishe, Espadin|
|112||Nuestra Soledad – Ejulta||Espadin|
|113||Ocho Cientos Sotol Reposado||Sotol|
|114||PapaDiablo||Espadin, Bicuise, Madrecuixe|
|116||Pierde Almas||de Lumbre|
|117||Pierde Almas||Espadin & Mexicano Pechuga|
|118||Pierde Almas||Tequilana Weber|
|120||Pierde Almas Botanicals||Espadin|
|122||Real Minero||Espadin, Largo, Tripon, Barril|
|130||Secretos de Yegole||Mexicano Pebca Largo|
|135||Viejo Indecente||Madrecuixe, Espadin|
|136||Wahaka||Espadin Manzanita (apple infusion)|
|137||Wahaka||Espadin Botaniko (botanicals infusion)|
|140||Wahaka – Vino de Mezcal||Wild Espadin Pechuga with Mole Poblano|
|141||Wahaka – Vino de Mezcal||Lechuguilla|