Mezcal: The pitfalls of infusions

Shepherd, from Corte Vetusto, adds: “Mezcal shouldn't be overcomplicated, but equally we shouldn't oversimplify either. We try to strike a balance and adjust the language and detail, depending on the audience - the level of information sought by a bartender or enthusiast, for example, is quite different to someone coming into the category. The production of artisanal and ancestral mezcal is relatively simple, however, there are nuances in the production that can make for some notable differences in smell and taste.”


Over the past decade major spirits companies, including Pernod Ricard, Bacardi and Diageo, have invested in their own mezcal brands and Cumming believes they’re the ones with the power to influence the category. “Conglomerates will be the first to make infused or flavoured mezcals popular because they have their foot in the door and could develop and launch a product quickly with ease.”

By June, Cumming plans to launch three destilado products, including one with mandarins, one with peanuts and a Day of the Dead special edition with marigold, apple and banana. “Part of me doesn’t want destilados to become well known just yet because I want quality brands to explore the possibilities before a major player comes in and dominates.” To prevent a surge in poor-quality infused mezcals coming to market, Cumming hopes that bartenders will take on the responsibility of infusing their own mezcals in house. This would not only make mezcal more accessible and well known, but the education would grow too.

While Bombay Bramble will undoubtedly sell in huge numbers globally, despite being late to the flavoured gin party, the wider category will be able to fall back on its international popularity. Mezcal doesn’t have this luxury and therefore isn’t ready for the growth in infusions and flavours that gin has experienced. The education of what traditional mezcals are needs to grow before different varieties take off, otherwise there could be an identity crisis, and it’s less likely consumers who enter the mezcal world through a cheaply produced infused mezcal will turn to artisanal varieties afterwards.