Mexico’s Mezcal Receives Exhaustive Treatment in Holy Smoke: A Book Review

In beneath than a decade, mezcal, Mexico’s iconic spirit with a history dating aback at atomic over 400 years, has emerged from the doldrums, assuredly accumulation a acceptability as a superior sipping spirit. Until now its history, nuances, adjustment and innumerable incarnations has been about abandoned in English accent accepted book literature, in favor of treatises absorption aloft the added acclaimed added above agave based spirit, tequila. In Holy Smoke! It’s Mezcal! The Complete Guide from Agave to Zapotec (Mezcal PhD Publishing, 2014), John McEvoy does abundant added than analyze the two Mexican alcohol in a abundant and abridged manner. He pays admiration to mezcal, while at the aforementioned time provides both its aficionados and novices with a abundance of advice in an absorbing and generally animated manner.

The capacity are blue-blooded and laid out in an organized simple to abut fashion, acceptance the clairvoyant to bound acquisition a called across of interest. Despite this getting the case, aback Holy Smoke! is a fast apprehend one is added apt to aces it up and not put it aback down until finished. The photos, plates and illustrations are able-bodied placed and captioned so as to enhance one’s adeptness to use them as a apparatus in capturing the aspect of the text’s development and McEvoy’s message.

McEvoy’s archive of the history of Mexico’s alcoholic beverages puts mezcal in a ablaze and barefaced context. He appropriately dedicates a cogent allocation of a affiliate to pulque, the a lot of accepted brewed alcohol during pre-Hispanic times, again traces its use to the present, forth with that of added Mexican distillates such as sotol, bacanora and raicilla.

McEvoy’s advantage of the across of agave breed and sub-species which are distilled throughout the country is admirable. Yet he does not get bogged down in the advancing altercation of nomenclature. Rather, he acknowledges disagreements, and in blueprint anatomy lists species, again alongside them several of the sub-species and accepted names depending on the area area the beverage takes place. McEvoy would readily accede that it is a no-win bearings for any aficionado, distiller or even alleged able in the acreage to try to definitively boldness issues aloft which botanists and taxonomists cannot access at a consensus. In any event, although he states that breed (and to my cerebration by association sub-species area there is agreement) is the above account of acidity profile, with the deluge of added influences on balm and nuance, dogmatism in agreement of anecdotic breed and sub-species does not yield us actual far in our adventure to contour aromas and flavors.

There are three sections of the book which angle out added than the rest. McEvoy’s analysis of crumbling is admirable. He is in favor of lauding a acceptable reposado or aƱejo, and gives abbreviate shrift to those who would be dismissive of annihilation but a joven. Similarly, after advertence by name others who artlessly abatement the abstraction of mezcal cocktails, he rallies about the Manhattan cocktail crowd, traveling so far as to cover a affiliate on mezcal cocktail recipes.

I’ve been about mezcal for a division of a century, and accept accounting about both its sustainability, and how mezcal’s nuances are innumerable and unbridled. McEvoy’s sections on advancement a advantageous industry for all, and his account of the countless of influences brought to buck on every produced accumulation of the spirit, accommodate aliment for thought… for all of us. The avant-garde era of mezcal is still so young. To a number, anniversary of us should continuously be accessible to learning, even those who reside and accept lived mezcal and annihilation more. It is actually auspicious to accept witnessed acclimatized palenqueros such as Douglas French (Scorpion Mezcal, as able-bodied as ablaze advancing youths aural the industry such as Judah Kuper (Mezcal Vago), both acquisitive to be accomplished by others. And so those who anticipate they apperceive it all, should at atomic accede that a quick apprehend of Holy Smoke! ability just serve as a refresher apropos aspects of the industry not accepting been advised for some time.

I would be behindhand if I did not point out shortcomings in Holy Smoke! For me at times the book was too anecdotal, referencing affairs accepting annihilation to do with mezcal. On the added hand, McEvoy’s accomplished use of citations from industry assembly was both admired and allegorical of the across of analysis which went into the book. However, afterward an actually wonderful, all-encompassing adduce by Stephen Myers (Ilegal Mezcal), wherein he romanticizes mezcal in a somewhat carnal manner, McEvoy states “Yeah. I like that. I ability accept added, ‘and it’s f—– g awesome!'” artlessly detracted from what he was attempting to convey.

At times McEvoy accidentally fell into the allurement of others, advertence absolutes area there are none, to the admeasurement that it would accept been added authentic application condoning words such as “approximately,” “mainly,” “by and large,” and so on; in one instance he artlessly pigeonholes mezcal as artisanal and tequila as industrial. Finally, while McEvoy does an admirable job answer and synthesizing COMERCAM’s circuitous authoritative scheme, he does get it amiss advertence that “mezcal have to be bottled at the distillery,” and at one point ambagious COMERCAM’s consign numbers with sales figures. But as appropriate at the outset, his primary ambition readership is not those integrally complex in the industry, or those with visions of acceptable exporters, but rather hobbyists; whether alcohol aficionados, tequila enthusiasts or novices to mezcal and added agave based alcoholic beverages, as able-bodied as bartenders, mixologists and restaurant owners absorbed in advancing their ability with a appearance to bigger confined their patrons.

Holy Smoke! It’s Mezcal! The Complete Guide from Agave to Zapotec should be included in the claimed library of anybody absorbed in Mexican brewed or distilled beverages. The across of advantage is impressive. While the abyss does not battling that of assertive capacity independent in the third (and aboriginal bilingual) copy of Ulises Torrentera’s Mezcaleria Cultura del Mezcal The Cult of Mezcal, John McEvoy’s absolute analysis of an all-encompassing ambit of capacity apropos to mezcal and agave is unmatched. To this admeasurement it stands as an important addition to the growing physique of mezcal literature.