Clase Azul’s Newest Mezcal Showcases a Commitment to Quality Over Quantity

Despite the prolific demand for mezcal, Clase Azul remains dedicated to respecting the quality, the region and the agave.

Clase Azul’s newest mezcal has arrived. Zenith Adventure Media

This week, luxury spirits brand Clase Azul unveiled their newest expression, Mezcal San Luis Potosí. The ultra-premium Mezcal Joven is the eighth decanter to join Clase Azul’s signature portfolio, dubbed the “icons.”  

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San Luis Potosí is the third mezcal in the permanent icons collection, and similarly to the two previous iterations (Mezcal Durango launched in 2016, followed by Mezcal Guerrero in 2021),  it continues Clase Azul’s tradition of showcasing a different state from the nine denomination of origins (DOs) for mezcal in Mexico (the remaining six are Oaxaca, Puebla, Michoacán, Tamaulipas, Guanajuato and Zacatecas).

“We like to [highlight] regions that are not as well-known outside Mexico,” Viridiana Tinoco, master distiller at Clase Azul, tells Observer. “Most people know Oaxaca as a mezcal distillate, but we want to show the different richness and expressions of the different regions.” 

The region plays an important role. Zenith Adventure Media

This is why, to date, Tinoco has chosen to release only young mezcal in order to maintain the nuances of the different agaves and their growing regions. “It’s totally different than tequila,” Tinoco says, stressing that only the Weber Azul (or blue weber) can be used to produce tequila, unlike the more than 30 regulated agave cultivars for mezcal. Even though brands can process tequila in different ways, ultimately, “there’s not that much difference in flavor because it’s the same plant, the same region, the same altitude.” 

The cenizo agave used for Durango imparts a distinctive smoky character from the mineral-rich soil and natural springs of the Northern Mexico state, while the rare papalote agave of Guerrero reveals a combination of coastal and green forest aromas influenced by the juxtaposition of the state between Mexico’s Pacific seaside and the Sierra Madre del Sur mountains. The agave salmiana is responsible for San Luis Potosí’s herbaceous, green chile profile on the palate. “It’s like grapes with wine—all the expressions you have in different grapes and every [type of] soil expresses [itself] differently,” Tinoco explains.

It’s a unique expression.

The green agave, salmiana, that is used for the newest release is native to the semi-desert slopes and plains of San Luis Potosí, and grows at 6,500 feet above sea level. It’s distilled in Estación Ipiña, where 20 percent of the approximately 250 inhabitants are involved in the mezcal industry, using methods passed down through generations over 200 years. 

“This is a special production because the aromas are totally different,” says Tinoco, describing the cooked agave and caramel mixed with green chile that she smelled upon her first visit to the region three years ago, when initially vetting the next featured state for their mezcal.

Mezcal San Luis Potosí stands apart from the two existing mezcals in the portfolio; it employs a regionally-specific technique of using agua miel—literally translating to honey water, this is rainwater that’s settled at the top of the agave—as the yeast for pre-fermentation. The next regional step during the mezcal-making process includes steam cooking the agave in vaulted stone ovens, then crushing and macerating the piñas in a Chilean mill, resulting in a full-bodied mezcal. Tinoco decided to double distill and then blend the final product for a complex distillate, because combining the unique qualities extracted from the different stills emphasizes the contrasting sweet and herbaceous notes, both on the nose and palate. 

The bottles are works of art by themselves. Zenith Adventure Media

Not only does terroir (the natural environment) play a significant role for all of Clase Azul mezcals, but so does the “culture, traditions, uniqueness and the history” of the chosen region, according to Tinoco. This commitment extends to the local inhabitants. For example, Mezcal San Luis Potosí pays homage to the nomadic Huachichil community of the region with its red decanter; in the Nahuatl language of the Aztec, Huachichil translates to “heads painted red.” 

“We selected the Hauchichil culture because they are very spiritual,” Tinoco shares, including their beliefs that animals and plants have souls. The red finch is their guardian bird, and thus a prominent feature of the detailed yarn bottle top (each of which takes two to three hours to craft) alongside the stars, mountains and green agave adorning the decanter. Clase Azul proudly displayed the importance of this craft during the Mezcal’s launch installation this week at their Polanco casa in Mexico City, with one of the local Wixárika artisans showcasing the meticulous action of dipping a brush in beeswax, then carefully arranging the symbols with 13 different colors of yarn on the curved top.

Creating the bottles is an incredibly detailed and work-intensive process. Zenith Adventure Media

In the past, Clase Azul honored the Mazahua by employing local artisans to hand-carve the design on Durango’s black clay decanter and to delicately arrange the beads on the decanter top. The jade green hue of the Guerrero decanter is inspired by a precious stone important to Mexican ancestral cultures, and is accented with symbols of femininity, like a hand-painted hummingbird and a four-petaled flower representing the Fifth Sun, that pay tribute to the strong leadership of the women in Guerrero.

As mezcal’s popularity soars globally (it’s CAGR is forecasted to grow 21 percent between 2024 and 2032), Tinoco feels a responsibility, both personally and as a brand, towards sustainable development of the industry. This is why Clase Azul is now planting their own agave in the Durango, Guerrero and San Luis Potosí regions, to supplement the wild agave they’ve already harvested. 

Despite the prolific demand for mezcal, Tinoco and Clase Azul remain committed to quality over quantity. “We are not going to produce more than we can with the raw material we have. The number [we produce] is what we can produce while respecting the quality, the region and the agave,” says Tinoco, stressing this applies to both their mezcal and tequila production. “Preservation is important for us.” 

Clase Azul’s Newest Mezcal Showcases a Commitment to Quality Over Quantity