Y E K S WHmI the fro f o T R A E H L A C MEZ Y R T N COU
AGAVE MAKES WAY FOR MEXICAN HEIRLOOM CORN AS A MEZCAL PRODUCER INTRODUCES SIERRA NORTE OAXACAN WHISKEY WRITTEN BY JEFF CIOLETTI PHOTOGRAPHS PROVIDED BY SIERRA NORTE
f you’ve looked at recent sales figures, you’ll know that it’s a great time to be in the agave spirits business. In the U.S., imports of tequila and mezcal were up a collective 8.5 percent, with mezcal alone experiencing double-digit growth in 2017, according to the Distilled Spirits Council. While that’s certainly a reason to celebrate, it’s a bit of a mixed blessing. Small producers in Mexico have been dealing with a supply problem that’s making it difficult for them to keep up with demand. That’s especially true in Oaxaca, the epicenter of mezcal production. The makers of Scorpion mezcal and the single-varietal Escorpion series knew they had to find a supplemental spirit to keep the stills running. And master distiller Douglas French, who’s been living in Oaxaca and making mezcal for nearly a quarter of a century, was determined to use an indigenous crop. “I came across the history of corn in the world and I knew this, but I never really paid attention to it: Oaxaca is the birthplace of corn in all of the Americas,” says French. “Actual samples have been carbon-dated back as far as 7,000 years ago. This heirloom corn was available in every color of the rainbow.” WWW.ART ISANSP IRITMAG.COM
The magazine for craft distillers and their fans.