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An Evening With Thomas Bullock …

Akademi recently kicked off a new event series called “An Evening With …”, where music, fine drinks and inspiration meet. DJ and producer Thomas Bullock was the first guest host and brought along seven of the world’s finest mescals for guests to sample. A longtime fan of Mexican liquors, Thomas shared some knowledge including the difference between mescal and its more prevalent cousin tequila.

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Thomas Bullock: Hi everybody, good evening, thank you very much for coming out and showing your interest in mescal, mescal culture and just good booze. Good booze is well made and a cut above the rest, good things make a difference. 

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I have been drinking mescal, not continuously, but with gusto for about 10 years and some of the mescals we have here at Akademi tonight are really quite rare. Another really interesting thing that we have in the range is that these mescals are distilled in clay pots stills. This thousand-year technology is still being used to produce mescals, so that’s really a special thing wherever you in the world.

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What is the difference between tequila and mescal?

Thomas Bullock: The simplest answer is that tequila is actually a mescal in the same way that that Chardonnay is a wine or like a Bordeaux is a wine. There has to be specific agave from a specific region and then it is called tequila, but tequila was originally called tequila de mescal.  So this is the simplest answer to that. There are other things that have to do with denomination of designation and so on, but that’s the basic answer there. 

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The larger bunch of tequila is industrially produced so they won’t have an as rich of a set of flavours. The way they cook the agave, the process or production that takes place leaves us with something very narrow. Sadly, tequila use to taste a lot like the mescals you are tasting tonight, really rich, really interesting flavours and a really wonderful heightening from drinking great quality booze. But nowadays the flavour profiles are super narrow and the taste is over in a moment - and you end up feeling pretty pissed. 

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So a couple of things unique to mescal are, first and foremost, when the spirit comes off the still it already tastes delicious, it’s ready to go with all of this flavours, where as most spirits after the distillation need flavour added to them because they are just raw tasting alcohol. So that is why they put it into barrels or add botanicals or those sort of processes. 

The secret to all of this instant flavour is in the variety of the plants and the terroir. Mescal is made from agave, and there can be something like 30 different varieties of plants used to make mescal. This starts to look something like wine, when you have all of the different grapes. Each of these plants have a distinct flavour to them and they grow in abundance in a bunch of different parts of Mexico. These different regions have different qualities to the area, whether it’s islands or the lowlands or the sea or in the jungle. All of those sorts of things all add flavours. 

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The other thing that is unique to mescal, and is my favourite thing, is that it makes you feel slightly trippy. It has a notable kind of lucid effect, you feel quite lifted. People reflect on different reasons why that is so. But that to me is the reason why I drink so much of this stuff. It makes me feel really terrific. 

The fact that it has all of these wonderful flavours and all of these different varieties and the culture behind is so deep and interesting is just a happy byproduct as far as I can see. I like to drink it because it makes me feel fabulous. 

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