From Laphroaig to Lachirioag
Much like peated whisky recently experienced its renaissance, mezcal is slowly beginning to carve out a larger niche in the world of agave spirits. Always playing second fiddle to Jalisco, the spirits from Oaxaca present spirit fans with saltier, smokier, and tangier profiles than one would normally find in the average tequila expression -- offering aficionados a broader spectrum of flavors than what they're used to from Mexico. More importantly, mezcal's moment is happening without any corporate presence whatsoever; many of the most interesting selections are being self-imported by the producers themselves and distributed by smaller companies that specialize in boutique spirits. Much like the whiskies from Islay, the mezcales from Oaxaca represent a key economic source of revenue for a remote area that hasn't seen much industrialization. However, while Islay has largely been taken over by Diageo, Suntory, and Remy Martin, mezcal production in the villages of Oaxaca is still completely in the hands of the farmers themselves.
But with many young Oaxacan men heading north of the border for employment opportunities, can a mezcal explosion revive a sparse mountainous region and create new opportunities for the locals? That's what Elisandro Gonzalez-Molina and his cousin -- both natives of San Cristobal Lachirioag -- are hoping to achieve with their new brand: Tosba mezcal.
We've been carrying Tosba since early December here at K&L, but the demands of the holiday season kept us from giving it its proper push. Our lack of presentation didn't matter, however, because this NPR interview with the boys aired last week and completely gutted our supply; we sold out within minutes. I'm meeting with Elisandro later today to discuss more opportunities for the public to taste and perhaps organize a few events here at the store. We'll also be back soon with a full write-up on each of the Tosba selections as soon as our order shows up later this week.