Casamigos Tequila, founded by actor George Clooney, restaurateur businessman Rande Gerber and real estate tycoon Mike Meldman, was a hit from the very beginning. Now, there’s a new iteration: Casamigos Mezcal. Here, ModXMan co-founder Lance Avery Morgan recently caught up with Gerbe to get the skinny on the new beverage.
First, let’s start with the facts: Casamigos Mezcal is made in Santiago Matatlán, Oaxaca, Mexico. It’s artisanal and crafted from 100% Espadín agaves. The Joven Mezcal is produced in Oaxaca by a 4th generation family of Mezcaleros and the traditional production happens in small palenques or “meeting places”
So much has to happen for Casamigos Mezcal to be made using traditional methods. Once harvested, the piñas are split and laid to cook for 4-6 days in six-ton earthen pits lined with volcanic rocks heated by a slow burning oak wood fire. Then, the piñas are cooled for 24 hours before the crushing process begins. The agave is crushed, one ton at a time by a horse-drawn tahona wheel. Depending on the season the mezcal ferments for 2-8 days before being distilled in 300L covered copper pot stills. It’s twice-distilled and then rests for up to 2 months. Plus, each Casamigos Mezcal bottle is hand crafted and rubbed using a unique process insuring no two bottles will be the same. The label is then printed directly onto the bottle.
When you take a sip, you’ll taste the fragrant herbal (mint, oregano, and thyme) and fruit (tamarind and mango) notes: a fine mix of layered flavors and aromas. Traditionally this agave spirit is slow-sipped at room temperature from clay shot bowls called copitas. How cool is that?
When we caught up with Rande Gerber, he was eager to discuss his new Casamigos Mezcal endeavor...
What inspired you to add mezcal to the existing Casamigos family?
Just as we made our tequila, we wanted to create a mezcal that we want to drink. Smooth with no burn and smoked to perfection. One we are proud to share with our friends. We’re really excited about the launch and for people to finally get the chance to drink it.
Tell me about your passion for Casamigos Mezcal, and what consumers should look forward to following the launch.
George, Mike and I are passionate about Casamigos and everything we do. Our mezcal was brought to us by a family that has made it for four generations, which shows their dedication to perfection. Our mezcal is as different as Casamigos is to the world of tequila. Extremely smooth, the perfect smokiness and easy to drink. Casamigos Mezcal is the perfect addition to the Casamigos family.
How did you land on the flavor profile and what are some of the flavor notes?
We were lucky enough to meet the family who was making the best mezcal and once we tried it, we agreed. Not much has changed. We are purists and drink it neat or on the rocks, so it had to be perfect. Some of the flavor notes include fresh herbs, black pepper, ripe fruit with the perfect smokiness.
How did you find the family that produces the Casamigos Mezcal? Did you do a tour of towns in Mexico as you did with tequila in Jalisco?
While initially tasting different tequilas and mezcals, we were given many samples to try. When we tried this, we knew immediately it had to be ours.
Has your involvement with Casamigos changed since the Diageo deal?
Our involvement remains the same. Absolutely nothing has changed. We have the greatest partner in the world with Diageo. We love what we do and it’s all we drink. It’s business as usual..
Will Casamigos Mezcal be small batch or are you launching big?
Small batch just like Casamigos Tequila.
Tequila and mezcal converts have said it’s a “lighter” way to drink...
We made it for the way we drink it, straight up or on the rocks. Each type also mixes well with everything.
Mezcal is the new trend in the market, and it seems Casamigos is leading that right now. Was there always a plan for mezcal?
We were given mezcals to try a few years ago and there was one we fell in love with. At the time, all of our attention was focused on sharing Casamigos Tequila with the world. I didn’t want to lose the chance of having this Mezcal, so we stayed in touch with the family. They understood our passion for Casamigos and understood our passion and commitment so were kind enough to be patient knowing one day it would become part of our Casamigos family.
How do you drink your mezcal?
The same way I drink our tequila – neat or on the rocks.
Neither of you were avid mezcal drinkers before, what changed your mind about the spirit?
I’m usually not a fan of smokey flavors, but after tasting our Mezcal, I knew we had something very special. Casamigos Mezcal is the perfect balance of smoky and after one sip, my mind was changed. It’s incredibly unique.
Where is your mezcal produced, and how did you make that decision?
Santiago Matatlán, Oaxaca, Mexico, because it’s where our espadín agave grows. It’s known as the best region to produce mezcal, so the highest quality mezcal is made there.
Why did you choose the artisanal process for your mezcal?
The artisanal process made the most sense for our brand because the family has used this over four generations and we didn’t want to change a thing. Why screw with perfection or tradition? It really allows the characteristics of the spirit to shine through.
What mixes best with mezcal?
Some flavors that mix well with mezcal include an array of spices, orange, pepper, basil and fresh lime juice. We also enjoy cocktails that use both our Casamigos Tequila and Casamigos Mezcal.
So, what’s the main difference between Casamigos Mezcal and Casamigos Tequila?
They are similar in that we created both with the goal to produce the best tasting and smoothest spirits. The mezcal production process is different to create the distinct smoky flavor.
Are there specific occasions when you’d prefer to drink and share your mescal?
We will definitely be drinking our Mezcal at the next boys night.
We have to ask. Do Cindy and Amal drink mezcal?
Yes, after tasting our Mezcal they quickly became fans and now drink all four types of Casamigos.
What has the overall response been from your House of Friends who have tried Casamigos Mezcal?
They are just as excited about the it as we are. I have a feeling it’s going to be hard to keep in stock.
Regarding the bottle design, what was the inspiration, and why did you want it to have a rough yet personal feel?
When I think of mezcal, I think of rough and smoky with an edge to it. I wanted our bottle to have the personality of the family who makes our Mezcal. Its authentic, hand-made, uniquely textured, smoky, edgy and changes as it gets passed around. I have a feeling these bottles won’t be thrown away after they are finished.
Will there be other mezcals after this?
We have the perfect Mezcal to add to our Casamigos family so we have not thought about any other mezcal.
Rande, what’s next for the brand?
We are always thinking ahead and have some ideas in the works, but we are really proud of what we have done and are focused on the continued growth of our tequila and sharing Casamigos Mezcal.
For more information visit http://www.casamigostequila.com