A Premier Mezcal Maker Is Dialing Back the Spirit’s Smoky Flavor to Lure in a Larger Audience

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The meteoric rise of tequila in America shows no sign of slowing down, with estimates pointing to domestic sales outpacing American whiskey over the next year. While mezcal lags far behind, it’s still chugging along steadily, and Del Maguey’s new Vida Puebla expression is meant to entice newcomers to the category who might be intimidated by its smoky reputation.

Considering how lucrative the tequila market is, it’s no wonder that so many celebrities are getting onboard as the face of new brands. Mezcal has a few famous faces too—Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul with Dos Hombres, for example—but for the most part the scale and financial rewards in the mezcal world are much smaller. Still, Del Maguey has been releasing single village mezcal mezcals since it was founded in 1995 by Ron Cooper, with different expressions made by individual producers using various types of agave. The latest release is called Vida Puebla, and differs in that it is made in a modern palenque (or mezcal distillery) in Axocopan, Puebla. It’s also more widely available than many of the single village expressions, priced a bit lower, and is supposed to be a more accessible spirit that might appeal to those who are less familiar with the category.

Not all mezcal is smoky, but many brands have varying levels of smoke on the palate. This comes from the part of the production process in which the agave is traditionally roasted in a pit dug in the ground. Vida Puebla dials back that smokiness while not removing it completely, and the tasting notes describe a savory, bright nose, with citrus, candied pine, and a bit of minerality on the palate. It’s bottled at 80 proof. “Traditional mezcal is a terroir spirit, and the flavor profiles are varied and complex,” Del Maguey global education manager Éva Pelczer told Robb Report. “Vida Puebla builds a bridge to this complexity by offering a middle ground in flavor profile and ABV… [It] provides a stepping stone into mezcal, bringing quality and artisanship to the 40% ABV category. Mezcal is a journey—as it’s said, you don’t find mezcal, mezcal finds you.”

According to Pelczer, Vida Puebla was created to satisfy the growing demand for mezcal, while also staying to Del Maguey’s goals of environmental sustainability. “Responsibly scaled production is a priority with this mezcal,” she said. “It’s made in a state-of-the-art palenque in the state of Puebla that’s able to sustainably scale the production style of Vida Clásico, which is made in San Luis del Rio, Oaxaca by one of Del Maguey’s original partner producers. This means Vida Puebla can be more widely available than Vida Clásico and Del Maguey’s higher expressions.”

Del Maguey Vida Puebla (SRP $38) rolls out this month at retailers in select states, and will become available nationwide starting in July. You can also find it available for purchase from online retailers.

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