Mezcal: To Be Noble is to Be Sustainable

Bob Murphy, CFO at Wolfsheim Spirits (importers of Noble Coyote) explains to Bonfort’s why mezcal is the exception to the rule when it comes to the spirits category.

The mezcal category is, afoot. That is, while its growth and potential are currently unmatched, the segment is small and still making its way through the spirits world. As a whole, the category has managed to maintain elevated price points, a sense of place and an enigmatic respect from consumers who may or may not know the difference between Tequila and Mezcal, let alone Arroqueño and Espadin.

For producers within the category, taking the issue of sustainability seriously sometimes means weighing up the pros and cons of making and marketing, say, Tepextate which gets more at the register but takes 35 years to grow versus Arroqueño which takes 12-14 years, on average.

Bob Murphy.

Some brands that were once lauded for really putting the mezcal category on the map, have later been vilified for their lack of planning in terms of replanting the agave plants they harvested and being deficient in sustainability practices.

Bob Murphy, CFO at Wolfsheim Spirits is the importer of Noble Coyote, a recent brand to the U.S. He says sustainability is now a key component of introducing a mezcal brand into the U.S. market. “Tepextate has a rare mezcal image but brands should feel responsible for putting revenue back into sustainability. Mezcal is the only spirit made from a plant that you kill when you harvest it. All the aging is done in the ground. A great responsibility comes with that, a responsibility to replenish. I hope in 2018 all mezcal brands understand that.”

Noble Coyote is a premium mezcal from the cradle of mezcal, a village called San Luis Amatlán in Oaxaca. Four different types of agave – Espadín, Tobalá, Jabalí and, naturally, Coyote – are used to hand-craft four single-origin mezcals.

The brand was created and is owned, by Bernardo Sada, who was born in Oaxaca. Bernardo is a biologist, with a focus on sustainability and Mexican ancestral botany and pre-Hispanic cultures. “Sustainability has always been a focus of this project,” explains Bob. “Respecting the land and the ancestral techniques that have helped preserve it are the cornerstone of Noble Coyote.”

Bob points out that about 90% of mezcal consumed in the U.S. is Espadin which Noble Coyote makes, but it has also tried to introduce Americans to Jabalí , considered one of the more exotic varietals. While the plant itself is abundant, tying into Noble Coyote’s commitment to sustainability, it’s the Mescalero who know how to select the right Jabalí and make the mezcal properly, that is rare.

“If I had the opportunity to ask retailers and bartenders to impart any kind of advice to their customers, it would be to know that you can get outstanding mezcals that also invest in sustainability, when you choose a brand that’s intensively doing both,” Bob concludes.

Coyote: 100% Maguey Coyote SRP $95

  • Maturation: 12 years
  • Pueblo: San Luis Amatlán
  • ABV: 48%`
  • Maestros Mescaleros: Marcos & Eleazar Brena
  • Tasting Notes: White pepper, marzipan, vanilla, wood and spice on the nose. Wood and spice notes continue, with leafy and wet stone notes on the palate, leading into a spicy, peppery, minerally finish.

Espadín: 100% Maguey Espadín SRP $40

  • Maturation:  7 years
  • Pueblo: Santiago Matatlán
  • ABV:  48%
  • Maestros Mescaleros: Marcos & Eleazar Brena
  • Tasting Notes: Bright green herbal flavors continue on the palate, into a smooth medium-long finish.

Jabalí : 100% Maguey Jabalí SRP $120

  • Maturation: 12 years
  • Pueblo: Santiago Matatlán
  • ABV: 48%
  • Maestros Mescaleros: José Pérez Santiago
  • Tasting Notes: Lemongrass, dried anise, eucalyptus, bacon fat, and herbal aromas. Palate follows with slate, dried mint leaf, oriental spices, high mineral notes and an ultra-smooth elegant finish.

Tobalá: 100% Maguey Tobalá SRP $103

  • Maturation: 2 years
  • Pueblo: San Luis Amatlán
  • Alcohol:  48%
  • Maestros Mescaleros: Marcos & Eleazar Brena
  • Tasting Notes: The nose opens with smoky bacon and fireside smoke aromas, with wood and spice. Smoke gives way to bacon fat, earth, dried orange peel and pepper into a long robust finish.

Capon: 100% Maguey Espadin SRP $56

  • Maturation: 7 Years
  • Pueblo: Santiago Matatlán
  • ABV: 48%
  • Maestros Mescaleros: Marcos & Eleazar Brena
  • Tasting Notes: Floral, perfume and spice aromas jump out of the glass. Wood and dried tangerine peel dominate the palate, followed by delicate lemongrass and robust anise, into a seemingly endless peppery finish.
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Natasha Swords

Natasha Swords is an accomplished editor and writer with 20+ years of creative composition, reporting and management. She hails from Dublin Ireland where she held the position of Editor at Jemma Publications. Natasha honed her editorial skills by delivering engaging content on a wide range of topics, before finally focusing on the alcohol beverage and cannabis industries. She is Editor-in-Chief at Bonfort’s Wine and Spirits Journal as well as Drink me Magazine, where she leads all editorial content from story-idea generation to commissioning freelance writers and photographers. She also heads up CannEpoch, a lifestyle publication for the newly cannabis curious. In 2018, Natasha launched Bonfort’s Wine and Spirits Journal from inception, as well as the Bonfort’s Lifetime Achievement Award, a top-tier industry event connecting leading brands with key buyers. Steeped in the alcohol industry media, she was previously editor of Off-License Magazine, California Beverage News and Patterson’s California Beverage Journal (now Tasting Panel Magazine), and ran corporate communications for a number of alcohol supplier companies including TGIC (now Guarachi Wine Partners) and distributor, TITAN Wine and Spirits.