Stateways March April 2018

StateWays is the only magazine exclusively covering the control state system within the beverage alcohol industry, with annual updates from liquor control commissions and alcohol control boards and yearly fiscal reporting from control jurisdictions

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StateWays | | March/April 2018 43 crafted from espadin agave (the original is from the cupreata vari- ety), meant to compete at a lower price point, Marcus says. "It's a bit lighter on the smoke with a nice citrus fi nish." "Mezcal is growing crazy; that section of our store has really expanded," says Ryan Bolton, spirits specialist at Hi-Time Wine Cellars in Costa Mesa, CA. "It started with cocktails, but now people are sipping them, especially the high-end expressions." "Using mezcal in cocktails is a great way to expose people to its complex fl avor profi le and drive growth," says Shem Blum, brand manager for Montelobos Mezcal and Ancho Reyes Liqueur at William Grant & Sons. "Addi- tionally, the artisanal mezcals that are driving the category have a rich history, which appeals to today's con- sumers who are engaging with spirits with authentic provenance." While the original Montelobos is produced from or- ganic espadin agave, the company is launch- ing Montelobos Tobalá, made from the rare tobalá varietal of agave. "As agave continues to surge in popularity, I'm sure less- er-known agave distillates will begin to garner greater awareness," adds Blum, speaking of sotol, bacanora and raicilla. "We just started carrying a sotol brand and have booked some in-store tastings; I think it will be well-received," says Steve Huang, general manager at Sterling Grapes & Grains in Brooklyn, NY. The retailer stocks 10 mezcals, which are selling very well, he adds. "Customers who are already into Tequila want to explore further." "Bacanora, sotol—used to be we couldn't give them away; no one knew what they were," recalls Keeper. Now the retailer carries a good representative selection of those other agaves. MHW has been working with Hacienda de Chihuahua Sotol for over 10 years. "While this agave distillate category remains small, brands like Hacienda de Chihuahua Sotol grow their vol- ume and consumer base consistently every year. All agave distil- lates will benefi t from the tequila and mezcal growth trends as consumers get more curious as to agave-affi l- iated options and stories," Beaudette says. One of the pioneers of artisanal mezcal and cur- rently the top seller in the U.S. market is Del Ma- guey Single Village Mezcal. Last year Pernod Ricard acquired a majority stake in the company, while retaining founder Ron Cooper and his team. Re- cently Del Maguey launched an edition of its Vino de Mezcal series made from Wild Jabali. Later in 2018, a new Tobasiche Mezcal will debut. One of the challenges for the category is sustain- ability of the agave plants, which can take decades to mature. "Upholding sustainable practices must be a front- of-the-mind concern to ensure the future of the pro- ducers and the category," says Misty Kalkofen, Madrina for Del Maguey. "Respect must be paid to the wisdom of the producers in regards to the traditional farming methods, crop maintenance and production processes that have supported the health of the land and the culture of the community for hundreds of years. At the same time, we need to introduce technologies that can assist in the preservation of resources such as solar power. Finally, issues of economic and social sustainability must be weighted equally with the concern for the environment." EXPLORING SOUTH AMERICA Like Mexico, South America has its own bibulous traditions in pisco (the brandy native to Peru and Chile) and cachaca, Brazil's national spirit distilled from sugarcane juice. Both have a growing presence in the U.S. market largely due to the popularity of cocktails—the Pisco Sour and the Caipirinha. Also emerging on the American scene is singani, a brandy indigenous to Bolivia. "The Pisco Sour is a sexy cocktail—with the egg white foam and bitters on top," Keeper notes. Thanks to that cocktail, pisco is sell- ing well at his store. But customers are also sipping them. "People are savvy about the varietal expressions, the grape varieties." "There are three main movements that have recently increased the popularity of Peruvian pisco with the trade and consumer," says Tony Matchus, chief operating offi cer of Pisco Porton LLC. He cites the craft cocktail movement, which is now looking for alter- natives to clear spirits for mixing. "Peruvian Pisco, 'the fi fth white spirit,' provides the necessary versatility in cocktail creation while also allowing for "neat" consumption—a manner that is traditionally Peruvian." Also, Peru has become a tourist destination that's led to the discovery of Peruvian cuisine, a phenomenon that has migrated to the U.S. "Peruvian pisco, with its three styles, lends itself to accompanying many different dishes." And fi nally, Matchus points out, Peruvian pisco is an all-natural product. Strict DOC laws call for single distillation from fresh wine during harvest, with no water added, no sugar added, no aging in a barrel and minimum resting periods of three months. Each vin- tage is a different expression with a unique personality, Matchus says. Porton is pro- duced at Hacienda La Caravedo, founded in 1684, which has been producing pisco for 334 years. This year, the company will launch a new global brand called "Cara- vedo," refl ecting the company's provenance. Although the TTB recognizes pisco as a brandy coming from either Peru or Chile, harvest, with no water added, no sugar resting periods of three months. Each vin- "Using mezcal in cockails is a grea way o expose people o is complex flavor profile and drive growh." - SHEM BLUM, BRAND MANAGER FOR MONTELOBOS MEZCAL

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