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Mission | Maguey Melate

MAGUEY MELATE IS FOUND ON TWO IDEAS

1 Artisanal agave spirits are amazing and should be shared with the world.

2 The faster-cheaper economy is a harmful force for people, the environment, and now agave spirits.

Whether it is whisky, scotch, or gin, there is no alcoholic beverage so rich in character, taste, tradition, culture, process complexity, and history as mezcal. It’s rooted in ancient Aztec rituals and treasured as a drink of the gods. It’s the first distillate of the Americas and by far the most complex plant to be made into alcohol. Even at its 40-55% alcohol per volume, it’s absolutely delicious to sip and mysteriously leaves you without a hangover (well, most of the time at least). That’s just the tip of the iceberg of what makes 100% agave distillates truly sensational.

As mezcal is rapidly discovered around the world, it’s very challenging for consumers to fully grasp exactly what it is, where it comes from, and how to fully enjoy its many nuances that make it so unique and exciting. This ultimately makes it harder to fully appreciate artisanal mezcal and easier for big business to exploit the opportunities offered by mass-produced industrial mezcal.

Here is the original problem slide of Maguey Melate’s pitch deck (February 2018):

 

S o what’s the big deal if big business and the “faster-cheaper economy” moves in on traditional agave spirits?

Regardless of what you might read on any corporate PR press releases, corporations prioritize profitability (often quarterly) over all other considerations like environment impacts, health-effects, fair-treatment to suppliers, etc. If the company can make more profit by cutting out non-scalable artisanal methods such as using a pressurized oven instead of an earth oven pit (and then substituting artificial flavor additives in an attempt to compensate for the natural smoky flavor lost) , fermentation chemicals to cut down lead time, diluting bottles (and flavor) to the 30% minimum, pressuring small producers into unfavorable long-term contracts, and desecrating the local ecosystem to save on costs, you don’t need a history book to be certain they will do it. Mezcal as we know it will begin to gradually erode around the edges, compromise by compromise, exactly as was the case with a lot of tequila decades before it. This is what we and several other great companies and authors are trying to stop from happening! Keep mezcal miraculously unique and artisanal.

With that slightly anti-corporate rant over, it would be ignorant to blame corporations for all of our quarrels. The faster-cheaper economy is a result of consumers and suppliers mutually agreeing to meet at a cheaper price point while sacrificing attributes like environmental concerns, quality, fair treatment to suppliers, and health factors to name a few. It’s a trend that began over 50 years ago and is sustained by consumer buying power and consumer buying choices.

Big businesses only begin to care about sustainability and fair-trade only when the consumer holds these values dear AND becomes properly informed of the product origin and integrity. That’s where Maguey Melate comes in.

THE SOLUTION

We believe if mezcal can be understood and appreciated at its full potential, people will show their preference for quality artisanal mezcal- sustainably and fairly sourced. Big businesses will be forced to supply offer truly artisanal mezcal that meets the demands of the consumers and the traditions behind mezcal will be preserved.

By raising consumer consciousness on the origins of mezcal and educating enthusiasts on matters of quality and character, informed people will be empowered to ensure the future of mezcal. We are working to achieve this by offering the richest agave spirits box & experience that has been carefully curated to be fun, intriguing, educational, and value-packed. All the while allowing us to reach a large audience with an impactful message: KEEP MEZCAL ARTISANAL!

Learn why we call our product agave spirits and not mezcal

Quick explanation:
The majority of the family-owned rural distilleries we are working for are not officially certified to sell us mezcal. Although many have been producing mezcal for up to 6 generations and over 100 years, they legally must sell ‘destilado de agave’ and therefore, we will also be selling ‘destilado de agave’ or Agave Spirits. 


Excellent sources on this topic:

Now there are many articles and book chapters out there that cover this topic more elegantly and with more detail than I can. Lou Bank from SACRED in Chicago wrote this article for Mezcalistas. This is a great article covering this topic for an outstanding mezcal blog authored by Max and Susan out of California.

https://www.mezcalistas.com/no-mezcal-gracias-por-favor-de…/

 

Our perspective in a nutshell:
Just like Champagne France has an appellation of origin legally controlling what can be called Champagne, Mexico received an appellation of origin for mezcal. Just as California sells ‘sparkling wine’ we will be selling ‘agave spirits’.

This appellation of origin did a lot of good things for this industry over the last 14 years. It helped bring mezcal to the world stage as a trusted legitimate spirit which consequently brought a lot of economy to a very poor region greatly in need of outside money.

Simultaneously, it created a separation of the mezcal industry into two supplier groups. The first being tiny producers that typically can’t afford certification (it would represent one year of salary to many mezcaleros) and therefore must sell locally under the table. The second group typically mid-size to large producers that have the economies of scale to afford the certification and can therefore export mezcal to the world.

NOTE: Let’s me be very clear here that this is a broad generalization and being certified does NOT mean you do not have top of the line artisanal mezcal or a family owned and operated palenque. There are many great brands out there like Mezcal Tosba Oaxaca for example, that are as artisanal as they come in every way: rural, family owned and operated, make top of the line delicious mezcal, and were able to invest in their mezcal certification.

When our company started up and we began touring nearly 70 palenques to be featured in our mezcalero of the month club, we had a choice to make. Either we:

1) Primarily work with rather local distilleries that have acquired their certification and can easily have the government come out to certify each batch. Call our product mezcal.

2) Find the best mezcaleros using the most traditional artisanal methods that produce the best agave distillate- PERIOD. If they are certified, great. If they are 5 hours away on a dirt road and haven’t ever been to government office in their life, perfectly fine as well. Call our product agave spirits.

As a mission driven company, we followed our brand identity and chose option 2. 

There’s a lot more to say on this topic, but we will leave it to the article above and address any questions from the form below.

I hope you find our decision a good one and are excited to help us to continue supporting the small guys and preserving as much of the artisanal tradition as possible.

MEET OUR MELATE TEAM

Click here to learn about our story and the individuals behind it

LUCKILY WE ARE NOT ALONE IN OUR MISSION

These authors, brands, and organizations are a few that we feel very aligned with

HAVE COMMENTS OR QUESTIONS ABOUT OUR MISSION?

We are here to listen, learn, understand, discuss

CRAFTSMANSHIP

TRADITION

SUSTAINABILITY

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