Introducing 'mezquila': Tequila & mezcal blend pushes forward agave innovation

By Rachel Arthur

- Last updated on GMT

Mezquila: tequila & mezcal blend pushes forward agave innovation

Related tags Tequila mezcal Us Cocktails

Santo Mezquila – a first-of-its-kind tequila and mezcal blend – is launching across the US, Canada and Japan. Founders Sammy Hagar (a Rock and Roll Hall of Famer) and Guy Fieri (an internationally renowned chef) believe the blend ties in perfectly with consumers' obsessions with cocktails, agave spirits and intriguing hybrid food and drink trends.

Santo Mezquila is a blend of 100% additive-free Santo Blanco Tequila and a handcrafted Joven Mezcal from Oaxaca.

Santo Mezquila was first introduced in 2017 with limited distribution, claiming a first as the first commercially available tequila/mezcal blend in the US. Now it is relaunching with distribution across all 50 US states, as well as Canada, Japan and Puerto Rico: alongside a fresh, contemporary look and an in-store, in-bar and digital advertising push.

'Everybody knows the tequila and mezcal markets have exploded...'

mezquila sammy guy

Mezquila, says Hagar, offers a new way into the booming agave spirits category for consumers who are still a little hesitant (thanks to a more approachable flavor than highly smoky versions); or those who are always on the search for the next innovation. The continued boom and growth of tequila since 2017 has convinced the duo that 2024 is the right time to go big with the innovation.

“Everybody knows that the tequila and mezcal markets have exploded in the last few years, especially the tequila market,” he told us.

“Since tequila has become such a hot topic in the spirits and cocktail worlds, a lot of new people have come into the category, and everyone is learning more about how tequila is made, different flavor profiles, and how to figure out levels of quality and personal preferences. 

“I think with all these brands and products out there, things have gotten crowded and confusing and people are looking for new, different, and high quality stuff to try. We've seen the rosa and cristalino trends in tequila slow down, and now we are seeing more talk about other agave spirits, like sotol, and about additive-free tequila. I think the fact that people are starting to look for new and different makes this the perfect time to reintroduce our one-of-a-kind Mezquila. 

“Like the Scotch category, a lot of people are intrigued but might be turned off by how smoky some of the bottles can be. That’s why I think Santo Mezquila is so great – it is kind of like a bridge in a song, taking the tequila drinker and introducing them to something new in a smooth way. Not hitting them over the head with it. Santo Mezquila is so special because it is the first one, and it uses a unique process to blend the two spirits together.”

Santo Mezquila starts with Santo’s additive-free 100% agave Blanco Highland Tequila produced by third-generation distiller Juan Eduardo Nuñez and tequilera Karina Rojo at El Viejito Distillery in Atotonilco el Alto, Jalisco, using methods focused on preserving the heritage of centuries of tequila production. The Blue Agaves are cooked using traditional brick ovens – employing a low pressure and slow cooking method that optimizes the deep, earthy flavor of sweet agave.

Using a proprietary process, the tequila is then blended with artisanal Joven Mezcal handcrafted in Oaxaca (distillery undisclosed). Again here, traditional methods of producing mezcal are employed including cooking the eight to 10-year-old agave in conical volcanic stone ovens and grinding the pinas with a traditional horse-drawn tahona to extract the sweet juice.

Santo Mezquila is 80 proof and retails for $69.99 for a 750ml at fine spirits retails and online. It earned a score of 94 from the Beverage Tasting Institute.

Dreaming up Mezquila

Mezquila came about from Hagar and Fieri's love of experimenting with flavors. 

“I love to play around with new ingredients and flavor combinations, and I'm always trying to create something better than what's already out there,” said Hagar. “This is true of our Mezquila too.

"I was mainly inspired by taste. I have a lot of respect for the history and tradition of mezcal, but I am not personally a big fan of overly smoky flavors in my glass. One night I was in Cabo with friends, and I thought 'I wonder how it would taste if I poured some mezcal into this blanco tequila I'm drinking?' I loved how the mezcal added something extra to the blanco but that those blanco tequila agave flavors still came through.

"It was a perfect pairing, and I knew it would make amazing cocktails. I thought it was a great idea, but it took a lot of tries with our master distiller Juan Eduardo to get it just right, with a light smoke that still let that great agave flavor shine through.”

Furthermore, cocktails frequently include more than one spirit – and blending tequila and mezcal has become a combination bartenders turn to.

“We now see a lot of great bartenders putting drinks on their list with two spirits as the base with each having equal billing. Every good Mexican or Tex-Mex restaurant I go in has a drink with both tequila and mezcal. We were a little ahead of the trend, I think, but Santo Mezquila makes it easy to make one of those drinks, and I think it tastes better because I know the level of smoke I am going to get with every single pour.”

Add into that a growing interest in hybrid food and drink: which blend foods or cuisines to create unexpected combinations. Take for example the ‘cronut’ (a croissant and donut); and sushi burrito (blending Asian and Mexican dishes and flavors)... a trend Hagar and Fieri hope to play into with Mezquila.

Cocktail recipes

“Mezquila makes a killer cocktail," says Hagar. "You've got to try a smoky margarita or paloma with Mezquila; it's next level.”

smoky paloma

A smoky paloma, for example, is made with:

  • 2oz Santo Mezquila
  • 2oz fresh grapefruit juice
  • 2oz sparkling water
  • 1/2 oz lime juice
  • 1/4oz agave nectar
  • coarse sea salt for the rim of the glasses
  • grapefruit wedges or wheels for garnish

What's next for tequila innovation?

Looking beyond Mezquila, the sky is the limit when it comes to agave innovation, says Hagar. That said, he pinpoints high-proof tequilas - if done well - as the next promising innovation for the brand.

“We have an incredible 110 proof blanco that is still small but starting to get some looks," he said. "It is way smoother than you would expect at that proof, but we aren't surprised. When you're making it with nothing but agave, water, and yeast, you can expect a really clean taste. 

"What I love about our high proof tequila is you can still really taste all that fresh agave. Too many times, high proof can fry your tastebuds, but that’s not the case with our 110 proof blanco. The flavor really shines.”

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