“The roads are blocked,” Octavio said over the phone. Unwelcome news in any context...yet, when your team has been working to re-launch a new brand for the past eight months, it’s particularly unpleasant.
The roads in this story refer to the highway connecting Mexico City to Oaxaca, the mezcal region, and the brand re-launch is for Cruz De Fuego Mezcal, an artisanal mezcal from Santiago Matátlan. Cruz De Fuego is a special brand within the our small company’s Spirits of Mexico Portfolio, with the vision to curate the world’s most authentic, robust collection of Mexico’s native spirits.
Cruz De Fuego, while envisioned by Founder E. Ismael Gomez, as “more of a project than a brand,” aims to identify producers and build a network within the mezcal region that will not only provide incredible liquids to consumers (e.g., Cruz De Fuego Joven was launched last year and earned itself Double Gold Best in Class at 2015 SF World Spirits Competition!), but connect our suppliers and provide them with access to the growing markets in the United States and abroad.
While our Spirits of Mexico Portfolio includes a hand-crafted tequila and artisanal sotol and raicilla brands, the category of mezcal presents unique opportunities for brands and suppliers like ourselves to embrace their communities of origin. Oaxaca is a very interesting part of Mexico and of the 68 indigenous languages spoken, 16 of them can be heard throughout Oaxaca, according to activist Odilia Romero. This region also has unique challenges. Those following current events are aware of the ongoing tension surrounding attempted educational reform, including the violent strike that has left teachers at odds with the military police (read more: http://cnn.it/28JJKwiCopy) Feeding into various sources of political instability, are the ecological pressures that market demand for mezcal is placing on the region because unlike tequila, the agaves used to produce mezcal are not commercially farmed at the scale of Blue Weber Agave, which has sustained the tequila category for the past several decades. Many species of agave used in mezcal production can only be found in the wild, highlighting the importance of replanting initiatives, study of the region, and assessment of long-term impacts to the economy and environment.
For Cruz De Fuego, it is extremely important that we bring a product that embraces the spirit of mezcal and intentionally partnering with producers that have long-term outcomes in mind. Our next shipment currently delayed by road blockages, is being re-launched in an effort to honor the minimum 45% ABV tradition as well as the rich textile history of the region (note our fabric lables!). We will offer a 100% Espadin (45% ABV), 100% Tobala (47% ABV), and re-worked Ensamble, a blend of Espadin and Tobala (45% ABV).
Thanks to our team on the ground in Mexico, we know that Cruz De Fuego will arrive stateside in the near future. Until then, we will continue to help educate consumers about this very beautiful and complex spirit.