Who’s behind Mezcal Amores’ Team?
The master mezcalliers who produce our mezcals in Oaxaca and Guerrero are the core team. We currently work with 5 different distilleries; one of them is a group of 5 master mezcalliers. Mezcal production takes a lot of time and hard labour, so we need several distilleries to produce enough to fit the demands per country.
Santiago Suárez Córdoba is the mastermind behind Amores. He is the founder and CEO.
Luis Niño de Rivera is the General Manager. Luis has over 8 years of previous experience in the industry with Domecq. Alex Mermillod is head of Export in Europe. Millie Wilson is the brand representative in the UK. I’m head of PR and Santiago my brother leads marketing and networking.
Why did you decide to go into Mezcal and when did it start?
I was invited to join the project as a partner by Santiago Suárez. He invited me to lunch and told me all about his idea and philosophy behind the brand. I loved it and immediately said yes. He said I couldn’t accept until I tried it. He asked for a couple of glasses, I tried the spirit and reaffirmed I was in. He then said, “you can’t say yes yet, you have to come to Oaxaca and meet the master mezcalliers; experience the production process first hand and then you can give me an answer.” You can imagine after that weekend trip to Oaxaca I came back completely in love with mezcal and all the culture that surrounds it. At the time I was doing the PR for Casa Dragones tequila since its launch in Mexico.
The name Amores where does it come from? We translate it as lovers but how did you come up with it?
From the love we have for our country and our culture. Santiago made several trips all over mezcal country looking for the right master mezcallier who shared his philosophy and vision to produce our mezcal. During these road trips he realised his love for Mexico, his roots and its culture would be the perfect name for the brand.
What is this brand philosophy?
The Amores philosophy is :
. To produce 100% hand-crafted and natural mezcal made only from sustainable agaves. We don’t use wild agaves that can’t be harvested because that endangers the species.
. We plant 10 new agaves for each one we use, this guarantees the future supply of agaves and preserves the species. The land were they are planted is leased from the owners, they work the land and raise the plants. After 10 years when the agaves have matured, half of it is ours and half of it is theirs and we buy their part. So the farmers have their future practically secured.
. We re-invest 15% of our utility back into the local community, the first stage has been to help the master mezcalliers build new distilleries or improve theirs, second and third stages will involve education and health.
Where is Amores produced?
We currently produce in the states of Oaxaca and the state of Guerrero. There are 9 states in Mexico where you can produce mezcal. We will soon be launching a 4th label produced in another state.
What is the method?
The agave plants need 10-30 years to mature. Their sole purpose is to reproduce, the plant scarifies itself to bloom, so for about 10 years they receive sunlight (light, heat, power) in Mexican soil (minerals) and absorb humidity (water) from the air to grow. Once the plant has reached its climax and has all its sexual energy concentrated and is about to bloom, it is transformed into mezcal.
The first step is called the jima – the plant is harvested by jimadores. They first cut out all its sword-like leaves; the centre or the piña remains. Each piña can weigh up to a ton, so they cut in 2-4 pieces to be able to pick it up and put them in the truck. Then the piña pieces are taken to the distillery. First they are placed in a conical stone oven and cooked underground for several days. This is where it acquires the smokiness and where the starches are transformed to sugars. The next step is the milling, the cooked pieces (they now look brownish and smell sweet) are placed in an Egyptian stone mill. A horse or a mule walk around pulling the huge stone while its grinds and extracts the juice from the fibres. Then comes fermentation. The juice is placed in large wooden tubes along with the fibres to ferment. Fermentation can last from 3 to 30 days, depending on the weather. Mezcal Amores does not add any yeast’s or any other additives to accelerate this process. A master mezcallier can tell when its ready just by listening to the tiny bubbles caused by fermentation. Then comes distillation, we distil three times in copper pot stills. Finally, the last step is bottling.
How many different types do you have and what’s the difference?
We have 3 different expressions:
The main difference is of course the flavour. The type of agave, espadin is the most common type of agave used in making mezcal. Our main label is Espadin Joven. We also have Espadín Reposado, which is aged for 6 months before bottling. The Cupreata Joven is made from agave cupreata in a different state; its flavour is more complex.
How should one drink Amores and what is your secret recipe ?
Amores is best enjoyed neat and should be sipped. Don’t chug the glass kiss it. It also goes great in cocktails. We have amazing cocktail recipes from mixologists all over the world. One of my personal favourites is the Mezcal Mule. We have this idea of making the world drink mezcal. So for the first label of Amores we created a “friendly” mezcal, one that is easy to introduce to people who have never tried mezcal or have this idea of it being super strong and undrinkable. We also notice that many Europeans don’t fancy mezcals that are to smoky. Another recipe I like is a glass with ice, mezcal and sparkling water; I call it “Mezcal de Verano”
Where can one sip amores in London?
5 Hertford Street, Mayfair
Lou Lou’s, Mayfair
Tramp Members Club, St James
London Edition Hotel, Marylebone
Experimental Cocktail Club, Soho
Casa Cruz, Notting Hill
Santo Mexican Restaurant, Notting Hill
Joyeux Bordel, Shoreditch
Azteca Latin Lounge, Chelsea
Coming soon :
Chiltern Firehouse, Marylebone
Mondrian Hotel, Southwark
Behind This Wall, Hackney
KOKO London, Camden
If you could describe a perfect situation to drink Amores what and where would it be?
Hard to choose just one! It would be with friends sipping mezcal all afternoon and night.
How does Mezcal make you feel when you drink it?
It definitely does not make you feel drunk. There’s a big difference to what you feel with other spirits. It makes you feel warm, happy, awake…. high.
You sponsor lots of great events in Mexico and abroad along with doing a Mezcal Amores Experience festival – can you tell us more about this?
We hold an event – an experience- in Oaxaca once a year in spring. After that first weekend trip to Oaxaca Santiago made me go to, I came back and thought “everyone should have the chance to experience this” and it’s the only way to understand mezcal culture and fall in love with it.
So we started doing small trips with very close friends, then press started joining, and more and more friends.. So after only 4 years, it is now a 200 people event in the middle of the Agave fields in Oaxaca with local cooks (Oaxaca is work-famous for its gastronomy), art installations and an interesting music line up (local band up to deep-house with Audiofly DJing with 180 degrees of stars above you. Its a weekend long experience that you can’t miss!
Why do you think mezcal has become so popular recently?
I love that it’s gaining so much popularity! I think several reasons are behind this: it’s complexity, Mexico, its handcrafted process and how it makes you feel. A mezcal with no yeasts or additives does not give you a hangover. Of course you always have to drink enough water. I recommend at least one glass of water every 2 drinks. I don’t drink any other spirits except mezcal!
Best place to drink Amores in Mexico City?
Contramar and El Parnita over a looooong lunch.
If you had to associate Amores with a piece of Bex Rox which one would it be and why?
It would be the Masaii long chain necklace not only because I love it but also for the story behind it- hand-woven by the local Massai artisans.
Your life mantra?
Your Spirit gets my high.