About 85% of the country’s mezcal is produced in the southeast Mexico state of Oaxaca. Over the past decade, often the traditionally smoky and somewhat high alcohol content agave-based spirit has inspired the creation of a sales boom with and for Oaxaca. Concomitant bring back, mezcal tourism has arrived in the community, particularly in the state cash. Travelers flock to the associated with Oaxaca and nearby locations and villages to visit artisanal distilleries or palenques, seeing that they’re locally known. Many people come
primarily to learn about the diversity of mezcal development methods, flavor and bouquet nuances, and industry/agave durability. But they also come to get up-and-coming export projects under means, to buy at a fraction with the price paid in their homelands, to photograph and picture the spirit’s rural companies for commercial purposes, to embark upon due diligence before inaugurating their mezcalerias or night clubs with a significant complement of numerous mezcals. So how do you decide what tour company, guide, operator, or “expert” to obtain a day or longer, according to your reason for visiting Oaxaca?
The question has triggered a problem for many surfers to the state because here in Oaxaca, everyone and his buddies want to get in on the actions and capitalize by “taking people around” to visit unusual rural palenques. Regretfully this specific sometimes results in not the actual visitor is seeking. The afternoon may consist of private trips to touristy distilleries on a highway led by the facilitator with only a general knowledge of mezcal. Often this specific “guide” is a generalist at the very best, with interest in making money and little more, rather than concentrating on best servicing his consumers, improving the economic lots of modest producers, or more typically, promoting the state of Oaxaca. And several are not even licensed. Thank goodness most guides tend not to fit into such categories. Nevertheless, the issue remains as to how a visitor to Oaxaca becomes what he/she wants without becoming misled, either by design and style or unintentionally.
The easy response addresses one category of tourist; the visitor who wants to obtain a most elementary knowledge of what artisanal mezcal is and how it is produced and to buy a bottle for taking home; just like tourists, I did so in the 1960s, 70s, and 1980s when returning from Acapulco with onyx chess units and garnish sombreros. All they have to do is visit a bus or directly into the van with the rest of the selection of camera-wielding tourists, and yes, it gets done relatively quickly and effectively.
Typically a new tour company driver usually takes passengers along a single predetermined route where they can take a look at, for example, El Tule (the big tree), Teotitlán de Valle (rugs), Mitla (the archaeological site), and perhaps Hierve el Agua (the bubbling springs) and if on Friday then also Tlacolula (the market town). The vacation will, of course, include on the list of umpteen touristy mezcal crops constructed along the edge of the highway over the past few years or two. Such an entire morning does serve its reason, admirably for many, and a pretty modest day rate. The item meets expectations. The driver might not know much about mezcal and rely upon the company of the mezcal factory to help speak and illustrate operations to the busload, which can be okay.
However, for most others, that is those who want to study; investigate truly; sample; buy an excellent quality product distilled in clay courts and copper; photograph or film, something very different is presumably in order. And this comes with perhaps even more so the constantly increasing number of visitors to Oaxaca who all almost treat agave tones as a religion, making a pilgrimage to the state for anything instead of in-depth.
Regardless of the objective of the visit to Oaxaca, you need to ensure that your needs and desires are achieved by someone highly qualified to address them legally. An individual, the customer, or the client? Internet site prefers to put it (at the very least from my perspective), have the right to satisfy themselves just before committing. You want to ensure that the particular dollars or pesos you will end up paying are commensurate with all the services you will be receiving.
The particular prospective customer/client has proper, and an obligation to himself/herself to ask the hard questions:
• Are you registered with the proper government authority to lead any mezcal tour, and if just, what exactly are the particulars?
• Exactly what are all of your other qualifications, besides perhaps having spent forever in Oaxaca, knowing manufacturers, and being a specialist in the spirit)?
• Is your automobile or van insured (optional for passenger vehicles inside the state of Oaxaca)?
• How long have you been leading mezcal tours, and what was an individual doing before then to make an existing?
• Have your composed any books or posts about mezcal, agave, and sustainability?
• How more do you currently spend your time? Can you also do general adventures?
• How do you select which will palenques to visit?
• Do you consider yourself a mezcal skilled, and if so, why, and if not, why?
• Would you send me references of people who have previously taken a mezcal tour with you and provide my family with their full names and cities of residence?
• Do you receive a commission from palenques you visit?
• What, if anything, do you surrender to the community and often the palenques and their families other than helping them to sell a certain amount of mezcal (i. e. aiding the families in various ways, donating to charities)?
• Do you have an arrangement with the palenqueros for after many people sampled and decided not to obtain anything (i.e., do you give them anything, or am I not supposed to leave a gratuity)?
For more specialized guidance, you might need to inquire as to what experience in the event he/she has had handling photographers and documentary picture companies and assisting enterprises to successfully start exportation brands for other places or open mezcalerias with Mexico or further to foreign countries.
To be clear, the preceding is not meant to suggest that you should be questioning all of these questions, but rather to get a range of inquiries from which you may select which are most important for your requirements and which you would not experience overly uneasy asking. Everybody has a different level of comfort.
The most important parts of this article are that you want to meet your expectations, feel like you grasp how it is all made, and be confident that you will acquire value-added service, despite which aspects of mezcal fascinate you.
Alvin Starkman runs Mezcal Educational Excursions involving Oaxaca. He is licensed to conduct mezcal tours by three federal agencies throughout Mexico. Email for the complete qualifications and customer feedback.