IWSC Mezcal Trophy winner: Mezcal Colores Tóbala

Spirit news

Wed 5 May 2021

By Stuart Peskett

Mezcal has captured the hearts of spirits drinkers in recent years, growing from relative obscurity outside Mexico to becoming a regular fixture in the world’s best bars.

And in the IWSC 2020, one mezcal in particular shone brighter than all others to scoop a trophy: Tóbala from Colores, an artisanal mezcal producer based in Oaxaca, the Mexican region where the majority of the spirit is made.

Colores is a young producer – it was set up in 2018 – but has already established itself as one to watch. All of its mezcals are made organically, it operates as a Fairtrade business, and it has a dedicated replanting programme whereby for every agave plant harvested, it plants another five.

Tobalá is a wild agave that grows in the Oaxaca highlands, and is noted for its rich, characterful aroma and flavour. The mezcal made from it certainly wowed the IWSC judges who awarded it a hugely impressive 95/100pts. They were impressed with its “rich and intense” aromas of smoke, wood and clay, along with “focused flavours of rustic fruit and wild mint”.

Rustic is a word that often crops up in mezcal circles, perhaps due to the lack of big brands and proliferation of small, artisanal producers. Either way, mezcal offers an intense, smoky experience that takes the pure, vegetal notes of tequila and ramps them up a notch, thanks to the way the agave hearts (piñas) are roasted rather than steamed.

Here’s Erick Emiliano Heras, the Director General of Colores, to explain more about their award-winning mezcal.

Tell us about the history and background of Mezcal Colores…

Back in 2018, some friends passionate about mezcal culture decided to create Mezcolatra, a social corporation that, through Fairtrade, replantation, and organic processes, delivers to the world the incredible elixir of mezcal.

Our leading brand is Mezcal Colores, an artisanal, organic, and sustainably made product that includes the participation of the best maestros mezcaleros and maestras mezcaleras from different regions of Oaxaca.

We are in love with our Oaxaca roots, that is why every bottle is a tribute to all icons of our beloved state: alebrijes (sculptures), clothing, architecture, customs, dances, songs, language, mountains, deserts, coasts and people – every cultural aspect that comes together to create Los Colores de Oaxaca.


Mezcal is crafted from the agave plant, a succulent native to Mexico

What is your background as a distiller? What defines your approach?

We work with a lot of the best masters of mezcal of Oaxaca. Some of them come from an enormous legacy of maestros mezcaleros who have made mezcal the family business for almost 100 years. Others are trying to start their legacy by being the first generations of maestros mezcaleros in their family. We believe that different traditions and terroirs in the production process can provide a richer vision of mezcal culture.

What is the most important part of your philosophy of distilling?

Patience and love are essential to ensure quality spirits. Respect for our traditions and the community are important values in our distilling philosophy. Without them, we would not be where we are now.

Who or what has been your most important influence, and why?

Diversity is our most important influence. Oaxaca is an enormous state. A great way of representing this through mezcal is in the vast number of agave species, the heart of this spirit.


What makes Mezcal Colores Tobalá so special?

Mezcal Colores Tobalá is handcrafted by Baltazar Cruz Gómez, a third-generation maestro mezcalero in San Luis del Rio, Oaxaca. Tobalá wild agave is exceptional because of the region's climate and altitude, delivering a mezcal with a wide range of flavours. Don Baltazar's delicate process of distilling mezcal is carefully guarded, from the wild agave that cuts through the light cooking, and the organic fermentation to the careful double-distillation process. “Patience and love is everything you need to deliver great mezcal” is the philosophy of Don Baltazar's family when making every drop of this delicious spirit.

Give one reason why every barman in the world should be stocking Mezcal Colores?

Every bartender should stock Colores because of its versatility. Mezcal has many flavours combining fruity, sweet and spicy notes, and wherever the imagination of the bartender takes them. This single-agave mezcal's outstanding quality is perfect to be sipped on its own and is the ideal companion for every moment. ¡Salud!

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