Cutwater Spirits has announced its entry into a new category with the launch of Cutwater Mezcal. Made from 100% wild Cenizo Agave, it is the latest bottled spirit to join the San Diego-based brand’s portfolio, which includes over 20 canned cocktails and 22 bottled spirits spanning nearly every category.
Among Cutwater’s vast array of spirits offerings are Its critically-acclaimed tequilas, which are made using traditional techniques from 100% Blue Agave in Jalisco, where Co-Founder and Master Distiller Yuseff Cherney oversees every step of production. While developing Cutwater tequilas, Cherney was inspired to explore other agave-based spirits and developed Cutwater Mezcal in Durango with the same meticulous attention to quality and a long-term commitment to supporting sustainability initiatives at the distillery.
To develop the mezcal, Cherney works closely with Durango-based distillery (CRM: D614G) owner Gaston Martinez and his Master Mezcalero. A few years ago, Martinez unexpectedly stopped by the Cutwater Spirits Tasting Room to talk about mezcal with Cherney, and the two instantly connected. Following the meeting, Cherney visited the distillery which is located on the outskirts of town, surrounded by acres of rocky high desert and dotted with enormous, wild Cenizo Agave. After touring and learning about the distillery, Cherney knew he had found the perfect partner. Today, the mezcal is produced in Durango as a collaboration between the two distilleries.
“When we set out to make Cutwater Mezcal using old-world production techniques and traditional methods it was important to find a distillery partner who shares our commitment to quality,” says Cherney. “We are fortunate to have found Gaston and his distillery in Durango—I am very proud of our new Mezcal. By taking steps toward the sustainability of wild Cenizo Agave, we can look forward to producing and enjoying this distinctly delicious spirit for decades to come.”
Cherney and his team are passionate about ensuring the long-term sustainability of wild agaves in the region. For every wild Cenizo Agave harvested for production, Cutwater is planting five Cenizo Hijuelos (baby agave) and establishing an on-premise nursery to cultivate new agave plants from seed to ensure biological diversity for future Cenizo in the wild. Cutwater has kicked off this initiative with this first limited-run mezcal and plans to build upon these efforts each year as production grows.
Harvested after 10 to 15 years, the wild Cenizo Agave is roasted for three to five days in traditional outdoor volcanic rock-lined pit ovens that are fueled by oak and mesquite. The bagasse (pulp and fiber from the pressed agave pinas) is included in the vessels during fermentation, an added step in the process that adds a rustic character to the taste of the finished Cutwater Mezcal. The sweet agave “mosto” is open-fermented with wild yeast for three to five days depending on the season. Once fermentation is complete the fermented “mosto muerto” is double-distilled in stainless and copper stills to bring the spirit to life. The resulting mezcal offers notes of green pepper with a finish of sweet cooked agave and a lingering, subtle smoke on the palate.
Bottled at 45% ABV, the first limited run of Cutwater Mezcal was released earlier this month and has ranked among Best of Show at the Denver International Spirits Competition. It is available now from select retailers and can be by searching Where to Buy section on the Cutwater website.
In February, Cutwater Spirits was named Distillery of the Year at the 2021 San Diego International Wine & Spirits Challenge. The California brand picked up a total of 11 medals, including two Double Golds.