What’s about Mezcal?

By January 7, 2016Mezcal
                         Mezcal is made from the agave plant, often referred to as maguey.  Tequila, Mezcal, Sotol, Bacanora, Raicilla are all mezcals.agave,maguey,oaxaca,mezcalIts production, pre-dates the Spanish Conquest.It is estimated that there are about 5,000 production facilities in the State of Oaxaca (where most mezcal is produced), less than 150 of which are members of the regulated association. Most are tiny mom and pop operations serving a local community and its hinterland, some produce the spirit for distribution in primarily the City of Oaxaca, and there are a handful catering to the export market. With the demand worldwide for Mezcal the production has increased and the world of mescal for local communities has produced growing pains. Education in these small remote communities in Oaxaca will have a ripple affect in the lives of these families.   Mezcal production is the highest grossing industry in Oaxaca. My work documents the story of these growing pains.  The children who leave their families to work in the US vs carrying on the tradition of the mezcal workers in their villages.  These villages are remote, few schools, few teacher’s and few resources which make them dependent on the industry of mezcal for income.  As mezcal hits worldwide markets and its demand is high the challenge will be carrying out the tradition of the artisanal mescalero. The maguey plant takes 8-15 years to grow, this international demand is seeing the 150 or so members of the regulated association need for supplies.  Because of the lack of children taking on the family tradition you are seeing the families selling out their supplies to help meet this demand.  Selling at a price way under all market values.  Replanting will take 8-12 years, a quick income with long term problems. The world of mescal is changing rapidly.  These ancestral traditions are rooted deep in the culture of Oaxaca and many other towns in Mexico. It is my belief that this beverage was never meant for a worldwide market.  Because of the process, because of the time it takes to grow the plant and its’ ancestral tradition.  If it is sold on a worldwide market it should be revered as a beverage similar to cognac, not cheap to purchase and used for special consumption.

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