Xila is jam packed with flavors that bring vibrancy to your cocktails – use Xila as your new secret ingredient to punch up your drinks and impress your friends. Substitute Xila for vermouth in your mezcal negroni, use it as a float for a new twist on a Cadillac margarita, or mix with sparkling wine for a simple brunch cocktail.We are a proud member of 1% For the Industry. Started by The Craft Spirits Cooperative in the footsteps of Patagonia’s® pioneering model of giving back through 1% for the Planet®, member businesses pledge to donate 1% of all sales to industry personnel support programs.Xila is your new brunch bestie – she plays well with churros and fried chicken, cinnamon French toast, and beignets with fresh fruit compote. If you’re more of a night person, invite Xila to your dessert course – she shines with vanilla ice cream, mangonadas and pecan pie.
At 20% ABV and with a low sugar content of 200 grams per liter, it is ideal to drink in low ABV cocktails or simply on the rocks as a spirit-forward Ready to Drink.Seven notes make up the unique recipe perfected by Mexican women, each note carefully selected for their harmonic affinity with the others. Caramelized pineapple, lavender, chile ancho, hibiscus flower, clove, cinnamon and black pepper combine to lure the senses and create an easy way to sip mezcal. When the mezcal arrives to Flor de Luna, the women begin gathering and counting all of their 7 Notas. All flowers and spices are hand selected. All botanicals are sourced in Mexico, and all are dried except the fresh pineapple. They caramelize the pineapple on the spot and deseed the ancho chiles. This spiced mezcal liqueur is inspired by two of Mexico’s most captivating and significant cultures: the Oaxacan and Pueblan. The long leaved, succulent agave plant characterizes the state of Oaxaca; the traditional agave spirit is blended with the flavor- packed, smoky ancho chile of Puebla.
All alcohol sales are solicited, offered, accepted, made and shipped by alcoholic beverage retail licensees in the DrinkFellows Retailer Network. You must be 21+ to use our site and sign up for promotions. Please do not share with anyone under the legal age to purchase alcohol. Drink Responsibly.Once prepared, they make a big bag of tea and let it macerate in the mezcal for 7 days. Once this infusion is finished, the mezcal is proofed with water and homemade syrup. It is then rested for another 7 days so that all the sediments set in. Hillhamn Salome founded Flor Du Luna in Mexico City in 2015 as the country’s first female-powered distillery – her production team consists of five women including herself. Fittingly, Xila means woman in the Mexican indigenous language of Zapotec, while Flor de Luna references the fragrant and mysterious moon flowers endemic to Chiapas and the Yucatán peninsula. Xila is a liqueur that stands on its own – whether you’re looking for a low ABV shot with plenty of flavor or a night cap to wind down the evening, Xila makes for easy drinking either on its own or over ice.
What is licor de tequila?
Corralejo Licor de Tequila is a silky, aromatic and premium liqueur created from the slow distillation of Blue Tequilana Weber agave in Guanajutato, Mexico.
Corralejo Licor de Tequila is a silky, aromatic and premium liqueur created from the slow distillation of Blue Tequilana Weber agave in Guanajutato, Mexico. Rested in a stainless steel tank in order to enhance and permeate its natural flavors and cooked agave notes, Licor de Tequila is a versatile liquid ideal for sipping neat, on the rocks or enhancing your favorite cocktails.
Flatiron Wines & Spirits is an award-winning fine wine and spirits merchant. Our San Francisco shop is located at the intersection of the city’s vibrant Financial District and up and coming SoMa neighborhoods. Proudly offering thousands of organic, fine & rare wines and craft spirits. For sale in-store and online for local delivery, curbside pick-up, and fast nationwide shipping.
This item is not eligbile for our 10% case discount on mixed cases or any other promotional discounts but we took special care to price it competitively compared with other top retailers nationwide.Rather curiously, the other sugars used in mixto tequilas are not permitted to be sugars from any species of agave. So it’s illegal to use, say, espadin agave (used for making mezcal) in mixto tequila. The 51% agave sugars required for mixtos have to be the only agave sugars, and can only come from the tequilana weber blue variety agave grown in the territory specified by Mexican law. Generally, cane sugars are used in the fermentation process to produce much of the alcohol in mixtos- but none of the taste of 100% agave.
Is agave a fake sugar?
If you’ve tried the artificial sweeteners and just want to stay away from the chemicals, then definitely consider natural agave nectar. Agave nectar is an entirely natural plant derived syrup similar in color and consistency to honey.
“Ramon Valdes, president of Tequila Herradura, S.A. de C.V., Mexico’s second-oldest commercial tequila distiller, is not happy. His firm came in for criticism recently after a reporter noticed that the label on its El Jimador brand now says just ‘tequila.’ It used to be 100% agave. In 1995, 100% agave tequilas represented only 15% of the entire production. By the end of 1998, they had grown to 35%. By 2006, it was more than 34% of production. Some companies are experimenting with improved mixtos, using more agave sugars, and less can sugars. For example, 4 Copas has a mixto called “Dos Amores” with 70% agave sugars. Their goal is to improve the mixto experience for new consumers to encourage them to upgrade to 100% agave tequilas. A similar mixto, Casco Viejo, from Tequila Supremo, is also 70-30. With the current (2007) glut of agave in the fields, there are many opportunities for tequila makers to pursue better mixtos like this, but very few have taken the step forward.
The decision to use non-agave sugars (usually cane sugars) in fermentation along with those from the agave was made in the 1930s in part because of this shortage, a fateful move that changed the industry and affected its reputation for decades. The official standard established in 1949 required that the sugars in the beverage come 100% from blue agave, but by 1964 distillers were allowed to use 30% other sugars, which soon climbed to 49%.The blander product, however, was more palatable to American tastes and helped boost export sales.
This is also accompanied by an increase in cost to the consumer, so the trend will likely hit a resistance point in many countries where the extra cost is not perceived to be worth the product. Premium products always have a market, however, if for nothing more than their status appeal. Already the rising cost of tequila has pushed it outside the range of most average Mexicans.Premium (100% agave) tequilas are the hottest segment of the market in the USA today and one study estimates the US will consume the majority of the tequila production, even more than Mexico, by 2010.
Some mixtos also have added are sugar, caramel and almond essence to make them appear gold – and aged. Even with these additives, a mixto can still be called ‘tequila.’
Even when it is more expensive per kilogram than raw agave, it is less expensive to make tequila with cane sugar than 100% agave sugar. That’s because the agave requires more work – harvesting, cooking, milling – to produce its fermentable sugars.”Valdes says his company made the change in El Jimador’s formula last May. Otherwise, he said, his firm would have had to double El Jimador’s price, about $13 a bottle in Mexico, because agave prices have risen 3,000% since 1995. That’s when U.S. demand started to surge, and just as it did, a freeze and disease cut agave crops sharply.
Mixtos can be aged – there’s no law against it. But most companies don’t go to the effort or expense, especially given the estimate that 70% of all tequila sold in the USA is used in margaritas. Why make a better mixto when it will be lost in a cocktail? Well, Sauza’s Conmemorativo is a mixto aged long enough to be called añejo, and proves a mixto blend can be well-made. This brand is frequently the tequila of choice in margaritas in Mexico’s popular vacation zones.
For aficionados, the most important identifier on the label of a tequila bottle is “100% agave” or “100% agave azul” – cien por ciento de agave azul. This means it is made only from the blue agave plant, with only agave sugars used for fermentation, and was approved by a government inspector to ensure purity.
Some people believe that better mixtos may be created by using other agave sugars, but it might also weaken the separation between pure tequilas and mixtos.
Since the shortage, many of these companies have returned to making 100% agave tequila, so if you stopped drinking a formerly favourite brand because it became a mixto during this period, check the label again. It may be back on the shelf as a 100% agave tequila.
Is licor de agave tequila?
Agavero is a tequila based liqueur based upon a blend of 100% blue agave Tequila (Reposado and Anejo), with the essence of the Damiana Flower.
Most margaritas in bars and resorts are made from mixto tequilas, although some upscale bars may offer 100% agave instead (at a higher price). And unfortunately many tourists who visit Mexico, especially in the party resort locations like Cancun are fed the cheap mixtos and seldom know enough to ask for something better.
What does 100% de agave mean?
For aficionados, the most important identifier on the label of a tequila bottle is “100% agave” or “100% agave azul” – cien por ciento de agave azul. This means it is made only from the blue agave plant, with only agave sugars used for fermentation, and was approved by a government inspector to ensure purity.
Caveat emptor: merely saying 100% agave does not guarantee quality: it’s merely the starting point. Each distillery has its own source of agave, its own processes, quality control and techniques that will affect the final result. While most producers create their products with considerable pride and effort, others are merely average and their products reflect it. Only by tasting them will you be able to decide for yourself.Mixto tequilas can legally be made with alcohol fermented from other (non-agave) sugars, up to 49% (meaning they must be made with at least 51% agave sugars). Allegedly the amount of agave sugars required was supposed to have been increased in 1995 from 51% to 60%, but this never happened and is not mentioned in the 2005 NORMA.Tequila tastes are changing rapidly in Mexico and apparently becoming more sophisticated than most tequila drinkers outside of the country. Mexicans consume the greatest volume of pure tequilas, but that is slowly changing due in great part to the expanding American market and the increasing number of aficionados outside Mexico.Mixto tequilas may also be bottled outside Mexico. While most bottlers do not adulterate the bulk tequila, they do not have to live up to the same standards in the bottling nation as are present in Mexico. Without the oversight of the Mexican Tequila Regulatory Council, there are concerns the bulk tequila may be diluted or altered at the bottler.If it doesn’t say 100% agave, it’s a mixto tequila. Mixtos are never labelled as mixto, but are merely called “tequila.” While most purists won’t drink mixtos, many tequila aficionados got their first taste from the popular mixto brands like Cuervo Especial. So mixtos have played an important role in the journey to tequila knowledge. Some bartenders only use mixtos for cocktails like margaritas, claiming the other ingredients mask the taste of a better tequila. Again, purists insist on 100% agave tequilas in their margaritas.In 2006, the total production of tequila was 228,226,209 litres, of which 77,745,302 were 100% agave. In the first five months of 2007, production of 100% agave tequilas represented more than 46% of the total production. So the trend is clearly towards 100% agave tequilas and away from mixtos. The consumer is becoming more educated and sophisticated.As reported by Morris Thompson (Knight Ridder News Service, Feb. 7, 2001), the previous agave shortage encouraged many producers to change some of their brands from 100% to mixto, including one brand previously popular among Mexicans:
One estimate suggests 70% of all tequila consumed in the USA is used in margaritas. The highest volume of sales in in mixtos, so it’s obvious consumers still purchase a lot of mixto, even when there is a growing number of pure tequilas on the shelf beside them. That’s in part because of a popular notion that it’s a waste to use premium tequilas in margaritas or other mixed drinks. It isn’t: 100% agave tequilas make better margaritas.Air contains oxygen, and oxygen will affect the tequila, and cause it to lose flavour and aroma. The more air in the bottle, the greater the effect of the oxidation. The speed of the oxidation depends on many things, including the tequila, the seal on the bottle, the temperature of the storage, and how airtight the seal on the bottle is.
How do you drink Xila?
At 20% ABV and with a low sugar content of 200 grams per liter, it is ideal to drink in low ABV cocktails or simply on the rocks as a spirit-forward Ready to Drink. Cached
Small artisanal or boutique distilleries have sprung up, offering premium 100% agave tequilas, but usually with limited (and therefore much sought-after) production. Some, like Los Abuelos, pride themselves in keeping to the traditional methods, including using a vintage tahona to crush the cooked agave heads. For many economic and tax reasons, these premium products may only be available outside Mexico.Many US and Canadian tequila drinkers simply haven’t changed because they are used to mixto brands, or cannot get many 100% agave tequilas in their area and those available are expensive. In Asia, Europe, Ukraine and Russia, most tequilas are mixtos.
I found more enjoyment mixing sweet summertime Margarita style cocktails using Agavero and Silver Tequila together with the Lime. By omitting the usual sweetener in the cocktail and using Aqavero as the sweetener, I found the servings I created were quite pleasing.
Agave nectar is actually a syrup (nectar is really just a marketing term). It comes from the fluid inside the blue agave plant. This is the same plant that is used to make tequila.
Agavero is a tequila based liqueur based upon a blend of 100% blue agave Tequila (Reposado and Anejo), with the essence of the Damiana Flower. Lazaro Gallardo, the founder of Los Camichines Distillery, in Jalisco, Mexico, is credited with creating Agavero in 1857. It is produced as a sipping liqueur meant for those who want a lighter, sweeter and more refined Tequila experience.I was not entirely pleased with Agavero. It seems too sweet to be enjoyed on its own. My recommendation is to use the spirit in conjunction with a silver tequila in a Margarita style omitting the sweetener which would normally be used. Because of the limited nature of the serving I did not feel that a high score was warranted.
Agavero is a bronze/brown coloured liqueur. Tilting the glass leaves a thick film of liquid film on the sides which drops thick legs down the inside. The aroma is very sweet and sugary with a muted somewhat punky agave scent. There are the vaguest hints of orange citrus, passion-fruit, peppery spices, and lime. The different scents are somewhat melted together and this is not aggressive at all. The normal spicy aroma I usually encounter in Tequila has been tamed.
This liqueur does not burn the throat in the least. But what it does do, is leave the palate and the throat coated with sweetness. The flavours under the syrup are pleasing, but the sweetness is just too much, even as a dessert liqueur.
The agave flavour, the orange and lime citrus notes, and the hot pepper burst are all obscured by the sweetness of the liqueur. The result is a mild, somewhat pleasing combination of punky agave and sugar syrup. Over time, the spirit, (although pleasing at first) can become cloying. I am tempted to describe the spirit as dessert liqueur and recommend that it be enjoyed in small doses.Agavero is distributed in North America by Proximo Spirits who have been increasing their presence on the world stage by acquiring key brands of distilled spirits such as Matusalem Rum, and Jose Cuervo Tequila.
Is agave a vodka or tequila?
There are some major differences between tequila and vodka, though they are both distilled spirits: Tequila is made from the blue agave plant and vodka is made from a starch or sugar rich plant.
Note: If you are interested in more of my original cocktail recipes, please click this link (Cocktails and Recipes) for more of my mixed drink recipes!
As you can see, Agavero arrives packaged in an attractive bottle which looks as though it must have a genie in it. Although I rubbed the bottle quite vigorously I can testify that no such genie was forthcoming. But (all joking aside), I think this is a very nice presentation. Had the bottle been completed with a nice solid straight sided cork instead of a metal screw-cap, I would have scored it perfectly.
Destilado de Agave is a term that is used to label a spirit that is distilled from agave but the spirit, batch, or producer is not registered to legally label it Mezcal or Tequila or any other name that has a set of rules and regulations defined by a Denomination of Origin (DO). Other names for this include Aguardiente de Agave or Destilado de Maguey.
This mezcal-based liqueur is inspired by two of Mexico’s most captivating and significant cultures: the Oaxacan and Pueblan. The long leaved, succulent agave plant characterizes the state of Oaxaca; the traditional agave spirit is blended with the flavor-
This mezcal-based liqueur is inspired by two of Mexico’s most interesting and significant cultures: the Oaxacan and Pueblan. The long leaved, succulent agave plant from the state of Oaxaca; then it iss blended with the flavor-packed, smoky ancho chile of Puebla. The addition to ancho chili contains lavender, jamaica, pineapple, clove and cinnamon, which gives it a very special touch.
Vodka is made by mixing the starch or grain with yeast for fermentation. The resulting liquid that’s produced is about 16 percent alcohol content, or 32 proof. That isn’t high enough to be considered a spirit, so the liquid then goes through a distillation process to bring it up to 40 percent alcohol content, or 80 proof.Despite the fact that you may have seen people drinking tequila get raucous and overly-energetic, it is a depressant. This is because it is a form of alcohol, or ethanol, which is the same intoxicating ingredient in wine, beer, and other liquors. The alcohol molecule is the same in all types of alcoholic drinks.
Vodka is a clear, distilled liquor that originated in Russia and Poland, but has become the top-selling liquor in the U.S. for many years. Vodka is made traditionally with potatoes, though it’s now common for it to be made from grains like wheat or rye. You may also find some vodkas that are made with rice, corn, fruit, or just straight sugar.Doctors tend to agree that no one should drink tequila for the health benefits they think they will get from it. Instead, they should eat a healthy diet, exercise, and drink in moderation. Moderation is considered to be one drink per day for women and up to two drinks per day for men. In this recommendation, a drink is defined as a 5-ounce glass of wine, a 12-ounce beer, a 1.5-ounce shot of liquor, or a cocktail that contains a total of 1.5 ounces of liquor. Ethanol depresses the central nervous system, which means that it has a calming or sleep-inducing effect. However, the effects that you feel depend on the amount you consume as well as the situation you are in. When you drink in smaller amounts, alcohol can have a euphoric effect. Tequila is a distilled liquor that is made from the fermented juices of the Weber blue agave plant. It’s one of the most popular spirits worldwide but is most commonly consumed in the United States and Mexico. There are various ways that tequila is consumed, including in cocktails like the margarita, but drinking it in shots is what it’s most known for. Tequila is a unique type of liquor in that it can only be produced in specific parts of Mexico to be considered a true tequila.Tequila, which is often associated with heavy binge drinking, has developed a reputation for making any occasion more rowdy and wild. If you are having tequila in cocktails, it may also be the amount of sugar in the mixer that spikes your blood sugar levels which also alter your mood.
There are five different types of tequila that vary based on where the agave is grown and how they are finished. Clear tequilas, called blanco tequila, are unaged and the purest. Gold tequilas are also unaged but are mixed with caramel or other additives. Reposado (rested, in Spanish) tequilas are aged for at least two months, often three to nine months, in wood casks. Añejo (old) tequilas are aged for 18 months to three years in oak barrels or used bourbon barrels. The fifth, and most recent, type of tequila to hit the shelves is designated extra-añejo. This tequila is aged for over three years in oak barrels, making it extra old.
The Weber blue agave plant (Agave tequilana) is a member of the lily family. It looks similar to an aloe vera plant but is much larger and it has sharp barbs on the tips. The agave plant can be harvested after seven to ten years of growth. As the plant grows, it produces a bulb underground that looks like a white pineapple, called a piña (the Spanish word for pineapple). At harvest, the plant’s leaves are removed, and the piña is quartered. The pieces are slowly baked until the starches within are converted to sugar. The baked agave pieces are then crushed, and the juices extracted, to which yeast is added for fermentation. This converts the sugar into alcohol.
You may have also heard about mezcal being related to tequila. It’s a distilled spirit that is also made from the agave plant. Technically speaking, tequila is a type of mezcal, but the reverse isn’t always true – not all mezcals are tequila. This is much like how scotch and bourbon are both types of whiskey. The main difference between tequila and mezcal is how the agave is processed. With mezcal, it’s traditional to bake the piñas in earthen pits.
Whether tequila is good for you or not depends on who you ask. There have been studies done to try to determine this, both scientific and pseudoscientific. Some say that tequila is effective for everything from weight loss to increased bone strength. However, there isn’t any definitive proof that tequila is good for you, and there are health risks that, in fact, prove the opposite. The biggest health risk being alcohol addiction which can cause all kinds of problems – physically, emotionally, mentally, and relationally.Drinking any alcohol excessively, including tequila, can lead to serious health problems. Even overindulging occasionally can have negative effects. Alcohol is inflammatory, which means it can cause digestive problems and nervous system issues. It can also impact your blood sugar and increase the risks of mouth, colon, and breast cancer. Drinking too much may also lead to alcoholism, which can be devastating for you, your friends, and family.A quick search online will show you that there is a common myth that the popular liquor tequila is a stimulant rather than a depressant. However, it is simply that – a myth. Though you may have anecdotal evidence that says otherwise (like a friend’s or your behavior after a few shots), tequila is alcohol and alcohol is a depressant. While it may seem to boost mood and energy at first, it’s likely that the way tequila is typically consumed, in shots, has more to do with the perpetuation of the myth than anything else.
You may see it implied that there is something about tequila that makes people act differently that when they have a few beers or drink wine. This just isn’t true, the alcohol in beer, wine, and tequila all affect the brain in the same way. However, how you drink these beverages can play a huge part in how you behave. For example, when someone drinks tequila it’s often in the form of shots, taken in a fairly short succession, but when someone has wine, it’s often sipped over time as means to relax.
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This spiced mezcal liqueur is inspired by two of Mexico’s most captivating and significant cultures: the Oaxacan and Pueblan. The long leaved, succulent agave plant characterizes the state of Oaxaca; the traditional agave spirit is blended with the flavor-packed, smoky ancho chile of Puebla. Seven notes make up the unique recipe perfected by Mexican women, each note carefully selected for its harmonic affinity with the others. Caramelized pineapple, lavender, ancho chile, hibiscus flower, clove, cinnamon, and black pepper combine to lure the senses and create an easy way to sip mezcal.The NOM also cements a baseline for traceability and transparency regarding the processes used to create mezcal, an important point considering how mezcal’s bad rap in the ’90s in part also stemmed from sketchy producers selling adulterated liquid throughout Oaxaca. “Nowadays the most important thing about the certification is that you have someone who is checking that the product is actually what you are selling,” says Oaxacan-born chemist Karina Abad Rojas, who is now the head of production and master distiller at Los Danzantes (called Las Nahuales in the U.S. due to trademark issues), and also works with the brand Alipus, both of which export certified mezcal. “There are a lot of honest producers out there, but the market is also full of people who lie, producers who say there are no chemicals or sugars added, when if you were to make a proper lab analysis of what they are making, you will see there is a difference in what they are saying and what is in the liquid.”
But in the last few years, a series of interactions with COMERCAM left Angeles Carreño feeling as though they were unjustly harassing the brand, which drove her to denounce certification. The last straw came about in May 2018 via a disagreement regarding the use of regional names for agave varieties. In many parts of Mexico, local names differ by village, so when the COMERCAM told Real Minero that the plant they have always called Cuishe had to be labeled as Mexicano and that they could not use the name Coyota anymore — despite that the certification body had previously authorized use of that vernacular — Angeles Carreño believed the organization had reached too far outside its normal purview: “The only thing clear to us today is that the denomination of origin has hijacked the word mezcal from the people who produce it. We cannot use the word, and we cannot freely express our opinions.”
Today the world has come to know this beverage as mezcal, but the precise language used to describe the spirit in Mexico has shifted over time. Scholars such as Ana G. Valenzuela-Zapata and Gary Paul Nabhan have explained that the modern word mezcal is a Hispanicized version of the name the Aztecs used for chewed agave fibers: “mexcalli,” a combination of “metl” and “ixcalli,” which, when combined, means “oven-cooked agave.” By the mid-17th century, these agave spirits were known colloquially as vinos de mezcal, made by families in villages all over Mexico for community celebrations like funerals, births, and marriages. “Mezcal wine” is an apt descriptor for the agave spirits that proliferated during this time — just as tempranillo and pinot noir taste radically different from each other, no two mezcals made in an artisanal manner will ever taste exactly alike because every area has a different climate and terroir, different agave varieties, and different ancestral traditions.The first goal of this standardization of the spirit was to alchemize mezcal’s somewhat dodgy reputation (a lingering effect of Prohibition) so the world would know it as a respectable liquor that is unique to Mexico. Like prosciutto di Parma, Gruyere, or cognac, with a unified boilerplate for production, mezcal would once again be considered a spirit of reliable quality and character on the global stage. The regulations also would ensure that mezcal’s name would always be tied to Mexico and not to other countries where agave is grown and distilled, like Venezuela, South Africa, or Australia. “Anyone could produce a drink very similar to Champagne anywhere in the world, but they could not call it Champagne, even if it tasted identical. The same goes for mezcal,” says Alberto Esteban Marina, the former director general of the NOMs. “The international treaty that protects DOs aims to safeguard and give a distinctive status to products, culture, processes, traditions, and, of course, to guarantee these characteristics to consumers.”This situation is not uncommon. In fact, a growing number of producers are embracing the liminal space of “spirits distilled from agave,” exporting liquor to the U.S. that is mezcal in essence but not in name. Several prominent brands, including NETA, Cinco Sentidos, Mezcalosfera, Melate, Mezonte, Rezpiral, and Pal’alma, have never certified their mezcal for the market. In Santa Catarina Minas, industry leaders Real Minero and Lalocura both recently opted to abandon the certification process altogether. And still others, like Mezcal Vago, plan to straddle the line with future releases, sending most batches through as mezcal, peppered with the occasional uncertified batch.
Producers and brand owners from both certified and uncertified brands alike agree that the rigid parameters of the DO could use an overhaul to better protect the soul of the category. Max Rosenstock of NETA, another uncertified brand now available in the States, puts a global perspective on the matter. “Mexico is one of the most biodiverse places in the world, and Oaxaca is in the center of all that. The idea that there’s just one denomination covering all of this is just absurd. In Italy there are over 300 DOs for their wine varietals, so what are we doing here in Mexico with one denomination of origin for the entire country? It doesn’t protect, it doesn’t regulate.”
Emma Janzen is a journalist, photographer, and James Beard Award-nominated book author with an insatiable thirst for drinks that communicate a distinct sense of place. Juan de Dios Garza Vela is a photographer specializing in food and travel. When he isn’t doing photo work he also does illustration work and murals. Based at the moment in Guadalajara, he can’t imagine life without tacos.“We decided to certify in the beginning because we didn’t want to repeat the history of our grandparents and their grandparents — during their lives as producers, they had to sell mezcal on the sly because production was illegal in Mexico. We decided to abide by the rules so we could legally sell what the family produced,” she explains.
There is also the issue of the way certification is conducted. With the COMERCAM as the primary organization in charge of interpreting and enforcing the NOM for many years, some of the COMERCAM’s behaviors have prompted concern and stoked resentment among producers. In late 2020, the secretary of economy for Mexico fined the regulatory body for deceptive and abusive practices. Last spring, allegations of misconduct surfaced against then-president Hipócrates Nolasco Cancino, with reports ranging from intimidation to allegations that he’d demanded sexual favors in exchange for certification. Shortly after, internal struggles over leadership led to the division of the COMERCAM into several new entities, which are currently sorting out how to move ahead into the future.
The terminology that ends up on a bottle label might seem like an insignificant detail for the casual enthusiast — it’s all distilled agave — but for the people who have a historic connection to this spirit, what is at stake runs much deeper and is far more complicated than simple nomenclature. The decision about whether to certify is oftentimes muddled by the murky intersection of tradition, economics, and politics. That’s why, as notable mezcaleros and brands start to speak up ag
ainst the DO, all sides of the industry are starting to ask: Who gets to tell mezcal producers what to call their spirit when their practices are inextricable from their heritage?Before the DO came along, making a living as a mezcalero — producing only small batches primarily for local consumption — was not lucrative. That prompted many producers to diversify sources of income with other jobs like farming or construction, or leave the country altogether to find more viable economic opportunities. So for Abad Rojas, who also served as one of the first certifying agents for the CRM in the early aughts, another primary benefit to certification is economic. “I wanted producers to become certified because they could then have more opportunities to sell their mezcal on the commercial market. They could sell in bigger cities like Mexico City and Guadalajara, and be available to export,” she says.
What does de agave mean?
If you’re in the market to buy some tequila (and why wouldn’t you be, since 90% of tequila sales are made in Mexico and the U.S.), there’s basically one thing you want to look for on the bottle, and that’s “100% de agave.” This means is that all the alcohol contained within the bottle is a direct result of the …
In many cases, the difference between making mezcal that qualifies for certification or not can lie within a few degrees of proof, or a few parts per million of methanol or acidity. Seemingly small details, but ones that would force mezcaleros to change their customs in favor of creating a more homogenized version of mezcal. For example, the spirits made by Amando Alvarado Álvarez in Ixcatlán sometimes register a few degrees above the methanol cap of 300 ppm. “If we want to hit that parameter, we would have to make our cuts at a higher proof and then bring them down with water,” he explains. “For those of us who live to make mezcal in Ixcatlán, it is a sin to add water. It is against our tradition, which is why I won’t adjust to the parameters.”At the end of the day, for mezcaleros and legacy producers like Graciela Angeles Carreño, the issue is ultimately about agency. About who can currently use the name mezcal and who should be able to use the name mezcal. “Agave distillates are produced throughout the national territory, so there should not have to be authorization for a person to make use of the word mezcal,” she says. “That is a situation that, seen from our perspective, is a way of stripping the producers of something that is our property, because it is our culture.”
What does destilado de agave mean?
Destilado de Agave is a term that is used to label a spirit that is distilled from agave but the spirit, batch, or producer is not registered to legally label it Mezcal or Tequila or any other name that has a set of rules and regulations defined by a Denomination of Origin (DO). Cached
When you talk to brand owners, distributors, importers, and other industry types, tucked into the folds of this narrative lies an instinct to assign value to one camp versus the other. Pro-certification people shout: Certified agave spirits are more trustworthy than uncertified ones! Anti-certification proponents stand by the idea that the destilados de agave route better preserves the spirit of the spirit. Regardless of which side you’re on, it will be interesting to see how the chasm between the two evolves, especially as the industry navigates a new world led by multiple regulatory agencies instead of a single unified organization.
Lupita Leyva, a former member of the then CRM (now COMERCAM) who is now working for El Clúster Mezcal de Oaxaca, emphasizes that certification also keeps those jobs and economic opportunities in Mexico. “Sometimes the agave distillates are being bought from small producers and being sent out of Mexico, not even being bottled here. They just pay for the liquid and take those jobs away from the people here. They are skipping our law,” she says. “You cannot go to Champagne and buy bulk Champagne and bottle in Mexico for a reason. We at the CRM, our purpose was to protect those jobs.”
Underneath the palm-thatched roof of his family palenque, or distillery, which dates back to the early 1900s but was relocated by his grandparents to its current location in 1992, 30-year-old Alvarado Álvarez creates spirits the same way the Xuani people have for centuries. He learned from his father, who learned from his father: harvest the papalome agaves during the dry season when the plants have the right sugar content; shave the spiky leaves off, then cook the hearts of the plant (piña) for several days in an earthen pit over smoldering coals; chop the cooked agave with a machete and then pound it into a pulp with a hand-carved wooden mallet; ferment in bull leather, twisted over a quartet of posts so it cradles the agave fibers and water as they transform into alcohol; then distill twice in fragile clay pot stills that sit over an open flame.In the small Oaxacan village of Santa María Ixcatlán, Amando Alvarado Álvarez makes mezcal by channeling the secrets of seven generations of family members that came before him.
For the average fan, certification might seem inconsequential because it has no real bearing on the inherent quality of the mezcal itself. “There are fantastic products on both sides,” says spirits importer Nicholas Palazzi, who works with brands including Cinco Sentidos, NETA, and Ixcateco, which will make its stateside debut this year. “To me, it has to do with what the producer wants to make. If the producer is doing things that check the boxes of the denomination to be certified as cognac or mezcal, if it’s doable and the producer can afford it, and he or she doesn’t have to adapt to what they have been doing for seven generations to get a piece of paper being put together by people in a suit working out of a conference room in Mexico City, that’s cool! Let’s certify the stuff.” But even then, he adds, “I don’t see the point in changing the way that something has been made for generations just to check boxes.”
“Real Minero leaving the DO is a bellwether,” says educator and Experience Agave founder Clayton Szczech. “The CRM [now COMERCAM] was not allowing them to put the traditional names of their magueys on their label, so you have this regulatory body telling the practitioners and guardians of their culture that they are wrong about their culture.” He adds, “These authorities are actually becoming gatekeepers toward standardization or a particular idea of what is going to sell rather than being the facilitators they are supposed to be for these special products.”
What is licor de agave?
Description. This mezcal-based liqueur is inspired by two of Mexico’s most captivating and significant cultures: the Oaxacan and Pueblan. The long leaved, succulent agave plant characterizes the state of Oaxaca; the traditional agave spirit is blended with the flavor-packed, smoky ancho chile of Puebla. Cached
Alvarado Álvarez sells his mezcal mostly to members of his community, and his label Ixcateco made its stateside debut earlier this year. (He also previously sent small one-off batches to brands like Cinco Sentidos and Balancan to distribute under their own labels). His process generates only about 1,200 liters every year, a drop in the bucket compared with what some of the larger brands churn out. The orchestration demands around-the-clock care, arduous physical labor, and a reliance on intuition and muscle memory instead of hi-tech machinery — think of it as the Slow Food of the spirits world. But when you’ve been making mezcal the way your father has since you were 15, the methodologies come as second nature. And as a result, Alvarado Álvarez creates mezcal that tastes singular to his family’s style — profoundly savory, with hints of bitter cacao and sweet wet clay.
By 1997, a certification body called the El Consejo Mexicano Regulador de la Calidad del Mezcal, A.C. (COMERCAM — formerly known as the Consejo Regulador del Mezcal, or CRM) was formed to oversee, interpret, and enforce the regulations, which are called the Norma Oficial Mexicana, or NOM. According to the regulations, mezcal must be made from 100 percent agave in one of 10 states (Oaxaca, Durango, Guerrero, Guanajuato, Michoacán, Puebla, Zacatecas, Tamaulipas, San Luis Potosí, or Sinaloa). It is categorized in one of three classes based on how it’s made — ancestral, artisanal, or mezcal (which is usually an indication of industrial processes) — and the liquid must meet chemical levels the Mexican government has deemed safe for consumption. Namely, it must clock in between 35 percent and 55 percent alcohol by volume (abv), with 30 parts per million to 300 parts per million (ppm) of methanol, among other scientific details.
On a more practical level, much of the debate around certification also comes down to money: Most rural producers who make spirits using time-intensive, pre-industrial methods simply cannot afford the cost, which some say in the past have ranged anywhere from $3,000 to $10,000. The exact expenses today fluctuate depending on which state the mezcal is produced in and which certification body oversees the process, but in many cases the brand owners take on the financial burden — the majority of mezcal brands sold in the U.S. today are not mezcalero-owned — baking the figure into the cost of the final bottle. When funds are not available for that, the responsibility lands on the mezcaleros, many of whom don’t have paved floors or electricity, let alone the money to certify their spirits.
For centuries, Indigenous Mexicans have been distilling agave as mezcal, but strict modern certification requirements are pushing more and more ancestral producers to ditch the term to preserve their culture
This dynamic landscape of vinos de mezcal endured until the 20th century, when legal protections started to emerge to distinguish regional styles from one another. The first spirit to formalize in Mexico was vinos de mezcal de tequila, which received a denomination of origin (notably the first outside of Europe to do so) in 1974. As Tequila snowballed into a full-fledged category with international recognition, it brought great economic wealth back to Mexico, a success that prompted the government to build similar parameters for mezcal two decades later.In the village of Santa Catarina Minas, one of the hallmarks of the native mezcal culture is distillation in clay pot stills, called olla de barro. Typically “glued” together with mud and clay, these hand-built stills crack easily and must be replaced often. The mezcal often bears a delectable mineral quality from its time spent in contact with the clay. This custom has been carried down through the generations at most palenques in the area, including at Real Minero, where Graciela Angeles Carreño and her family have been making mezcal since the 1800s and started making certified mezcal under the label Real Minero in 2004.She says that many people have questioned her decision to stop certifying Real Minero as mezcal, but she does not feel any regret. “Regardless of whether or not we use the word mezcal, the process, the tradition, in the production of our drink is still the same as our grandparents used; the certainty that we give you is that we still have the records, the traceability in our process, and we have a respect for tradition,” she says. “Mezcal belongs to all Mexicans, and as long as there are producers that respect and preserve our distillate and are willing to defend the origin of our drink, the world will continue to taste great agave spirits.”