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Tequila & Mezcal The Complete Guide - Book Review
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Tequila & Mezcal  - The Complete Guide
By Kobe Desmet & Isabel Boons
Kobe and Isabel have put together a book that is both informative and an excellent read.  I think I got through the whole book in a couple of weeks and certainly enjoyed the read. The back of the book tells is that Kobe is Belgiums only officially certified “Tequila Master” so should know his stuff.
The book starts off by going through the history of Mexican culture beginning with the Aztecs being  instructed by the god Huitzilopochtli to move to the city Tenochtitlan (now Mexico City). Then moves on to the pre-Columbian tribes of Mesoamerica and how they would use agave to brew light alcoholic drinks such Pulque.
We then move onto Vino de Mezcal, or as its now known tequila and mescal. The history of these products is covered from the first distillery, how the beginning of the 20th century saw tequila being sold in bottles instead of barrels, the American prohibition etc.
The book covers the various implementations of NOM (Norma Offical Mexicana) Rules, labelling, the various tequila types (mixto to extra anejo). The same subject is then covered for Mezcal. We are given an insight into the various agave plants, where they grow and how long they take to reach maturity. The final chapter of tequila section goes through the whole process of producing tequila. Finally there’s a page dedicated to some of the larger tequila brands. This bit I found slightly disappointing, given that each brand gets its own page some tasting notes  would have been appreciated.  I also have to question the information on Cazadores “in 2014, he launched a new bottle but he didn’t digress from the traditional methods of producing tequila” this is then followed by a picture of the cooking process and the word “diffuser”. For me diffuser is certainly not traditional and I do wonder if this small write up is provided by the brands rather than the author.
We then move onto Mezcal  which again covers the whole process from the terroir, harvesting, cooking, grinding, fermentation etc. Finally finishing off with write on some of the larger mescal brands.
There’s then a very brief section on other Mexican spirits, Bacanora, Raicilla and Sotol.
The final third of the book is what I can best describe as “padding” which takes the book from 155 pages to 250. First we get cocktail recipes, a page covers the recipe and a page with a photo of the cocktail (a very nice picture by the way!). The downside to this is the ingredients required to make them. Does the average Joe have “Cynar”, “vermouth de professore” ,“rhubarb bitters”, “Falernum” etc. I would have preferred more basic but tasty cocktails to encourage all of us to give them a try. This is then followed a few food recipies, the “chili chocolate with tequila” looks very nice. And finally we get to the best 16 Tequila bars which is interesting and useful if you are ever in the cities where these bars are. 
All in all this an excellent book which can be read by the agave spirit newbie to those with a decent knowledge of tequila. Afficionados may find the book doesn’t go into enough detail but may still find it an entertaining read as it is so well written.
Please note the authors of the book have had no input into this review. The book was purchased by myself and as such this is a totaly independent review.
Agave Glenn
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