Mezcal literally means “agave plant” (metl) plus “pit-roasted or baked (calli).
In Agave Spirits, we daylight the fact that most margaritas sold in the US are still using mix to tequilas, which can be up to 49% high fructose sugars from plants other than agaves, so they are neither mezcal in a general sense nor vino mezcal de Tequila in a narrow sense.
Neither are the growing number of tequilas and mezcals that are not made from jima-trimmed mature agave hearts, but from immature ones that are not even pit- or oven-roasted, but harvested after five years then put in diff user that blast all the sugars out of them at super high temperatures. Most of the flavor never developed in immature plants, so the industry adds caramelized coloring and flavors and fragrances after a botanical form on infanticide.
What you get is the equivalent of Velveeta cheese cheese food product, not an aged cheese with diverse yeasts and molds in the cheesemakling environment that enhance flavor, fragrance and color with the curds or shaped cheese rounds. As for whether tequilana azul should be called a century plant anymore, that is also questionable. In 1985, tequilana azul plants matured in 8 to 12 years. By 2005, they were harvested in 7.5 years on average, and today in 5 years from planting. In 40 years, the industry has attempted to nearly annualize a (once) long-lived perennial, and by doing so and by using diff users, tequila no longer “tastes like time” as most artisanal mezcals do.
We must ask then, “What’s wrong with this picture?” and “What solutions can reverse the damage done?” We’ll be talking about these issues at the Marfa Agave Festival at the start of June, so come join us!
-Gary Paul Nabhan