Mezcal is a spirit that these days is familiar to bartenders, even becoming a bartender-favourite. But given the small scale production, premium pricing, and high ABV of artisanal mezcal, the broader public is still a little hesitant to embrace this ancient Mexican spirit.
That’s why the team at Tio’s Cerveceria in Sydney’s Surry Hills has been celebrating mezcal all this month, and will host their Mezcal Mini-Fest on Sunday 2 April.
“Since last year, interest has grown agave spirits exponentially and more brands have been starting to pop up in the Australian market,” says Alex Dowd, Tio’s co-owner. “Really, it’s an excuse for us to get some amazing juice to consumers at the best price we possibly can.”
Price is a big factor when it comes to consumers’ agave shyness, Dowd says.
“That’s been one of the major problems with mezcal – people don’t understand it’s value,” he says. “People don’t understand that an unaged spirit at approximately 50% ABV — or higher — is a super-premium product.
“But that’s our job.”
A number of factors contribute to the relatively higher price of mezcal — not least the time it takes to go from agave to bottle.
“People don’t know that the plants take up to 30 years to mature and can only be harvested once,” Dowd says. “If they didn’t know that, they definitely didn’t know that they grow totally wild and people bring them back on a donkey. Or that barley grows and is harvested twice in a season.”
It’s these reasons, and how it’s made, which makes it unique, though, and the reason why Tio’s is giving it a big push.
“It’s culture distilled into a bottle,” says Dowd. “Ancestrale mezcal is made according to family lore and using production methods that are centuries old. Fermenting in animal hide or stone pools. Crushing using wooden mallets in a canoe. Distillation in Phillipino clay stills. Distilled spirit condensing down a bamboo tube.”
“There are thousands of stories that come from mezcal and March is our excuse to give them centre stage,” he says.
Their mezcal-pushing efforts will culminate with the Tio’s Mezcal Mini-Fest on Sunday 2 April. The event kicks off at 2pm at Tio’s in Surry Hills, an event they describe as “one half mezcal exposé, one half party.” They’ll have a selection of mezcal suppliers on hand pouring tasters of mezcal, and if you know Tio’s you know it’s going to be a good time.