Getting serious about mezcal with mezcalier, Nick Peters


Story by Nick Peters
Nick is co-owner and manager at
Mamasita, Melbourne

Mezcal has reached a fork in the road.

On the one hand are the unscrupulous types – keen to get every agave they can out of the ground and into bottle as quickly as possible – with no regard for what happens to the land or those that make mezcal.

Fortunately, on the other hand, there are those doing the right things. There are fifth generation mezcaleros taking the time to care for their agaves and look after the soil. Others support communities that rely on mezcal production by investing in more agave and fields, assisting locals with solid business practices, paying what the product is worth, promoting agave varietal variations and biodiversity.


Others still are positively affecting the industry, by taking the time to promote the category through education, and just generally being nice people – take Esteban Morales with La Venenosa raicilla, or Gustavo and Jaime Muñoz from Los Danzantes, Ron Cooper, the esteemed Tomas Estes (I love tequila too) and the inimitable Phil Bayly for example. How do we change this mentality and start being an environmentally conscious profession?

As an avid agave fan for many years, when I heard that the CRM (Consejo Regulador de Mezcal) was finally certifying a mezcalier course in Oaxaca in 2013-4, I jumped at the chance to attend.

The days started at 8am, and the first day we dove headfirst into a tasting that included varietals I’d rarely seen in Australia at that time: Arroqueño, Tepeztate, Cerrudo, Tobaziche, many Pechugas, and more – and set the platform for a big week. The majority of our time was spent in palenques, learning the craft, or in the fields.

We were guided weeklong by Texas native Don Douglas – a colourful character that’s spent the last 35 years in Oaxaca; a Master mezcalero, and driving force behind the Mezcalier certification. Following on from this weeklong whirlwind of knowledge was the Mezcalier exam – in Spanish of course!

It’s an experience I will never forget.

The mezcalier course deepened my respect for mezcal – and by that I mean all forms of agave ditstillates – and the processes involved even further.

I am grateful for my mezcalier training – I think I’m the only person outside North America to have gained the certification? – and I have gladly passed that training onto members of my bar team and will continue to do so.

I am very proud that following this training we now offer a mezcalier service each and every night of the week at our place, with someone solely dedicated to answering any and all agave questions customers might have.

I am excited about the way Australia continues to embrace mezcal and tequila, and want to thank Tio’s, Mr Moustache, Barrio Chino, Bon Bon (Bonita Bonita), Alquimia, El Publico and Mesa Verde and others for flying the flag and continuing to educate the public on this amazing category.


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