For the first time in its history, California will be distilling its first commercial agave spirit. Craig Reynold is leading, what he calls, the Mezcalifornia movement. Reynolds planted agave plants at Muller Ranch in Woodland (Yolo County). For now, the future of the spirit is unclear, but exciting. “It’s kind of like where California wine was 50 years ago,” Reynolds says.
Reynolds plans to use distilling techniques that draw from both Tequila and mezcal while trying to create a unique agave spirit. After Reynolds harvests and roasts the agave he will send it to St. George Spirits in Alameda for distilling. As of now it will be known simply as “Spirit of Agave” as Tequila and Mezcal are geographically protected terms designating origin from certain Mexican states.
“You need to look at agave spirits more like wine than other spirits,” Reynolds says. “It’s a vegetable that has some life to it. There’s more terroir related to it.” The exact terroir expression that the spirit will remain to be seen and will be the subject to much experimentation. We do know that the spirit will be distilled using the Agave tequilana variety of the plant. Will the spirit be new wave of expressive California beverages, the likes of which haven’t been seen since the California wine boom? Will it be related more to tequila or mezcal, or will it become its own category with a new designated name? These are questions Reynolds is eager to answer. California and the rest of the country are eager to hear those answers.