Mezcal is mostly made from espadin agave that grows in Oaxaca, Mexico. The strong liquor is similar to tequila but has a unique taste that sets it apart. There are plenty of mezcal producers in Mexico, but one of the newest firms stands out.
Desolas Mezcal is a woman-owned distiller located in San Luis Potosi, Mexico. The company is flipping the script, using a different agave for its blanco mezcal. Founder and CEO GG Mirvis is trying to honor the artisanal practices of the earliest distillers.
In 2022, Bloomberg ran a story explaining how Americans are spending more money on mezcal and tequila than U.S.-made whiskey. The report suggests that in 2023, tequila and mezcal will surpass vodka as the most-purchased spirit, with more than $13.3 billion in sales. Recent studies show tequila accounting for 56.1% of the 2023 market share.
Desolas is part of this trend. Mirvis founded the company in 2020 and wanted to create these liquors by hand. The process would be meticulous, but it would yield a great product. A press release shared with The Business Download explained she worked with a “maestro mezcalero” to get started.
Photo Courtesy Desolas Mezcal
However, the product had to stand out. To do that, Mirvis turned to a different agave: the Salmiana. It is called the “Green Giant” for how tall it gets — one plant can take up to 25 years to properly mature, and harvesting is a careful process.
Mirvis spoke with The Business Download to tell us about her journey in the spirits business and why she chose to start a mezcal brand.
“I started a tequila coconut water business in college and basically got thrown into the alcohol industry. That was about 10 years ago, and I sold that company about five or six years ago,” Mirvis explained.
“I traveled to Mexico a lot, trying different mezcals. I was learning about different types and learned many aren’t smoky. I started learning about what agaves I liked and learning more about that distilling talent.”
Once harvested, the “Piñas” are cooked in above-ground ovens called “hornos.” Traditionally, they are cooked underground. This move is deliberate, though, as the above-ground cooking gives Desolas its signature smoky profile.
“Mezcal, in general, is a handmade product. Every mezcalero has their own day of doing their handcrafted process,” Mirvis said. “There’s a lot of labor involved with cutting and roasting the agave. It’s really the mezcalero who decides when it’s ready.” The handcrafted process is rich in tradition and culture.
Photo Courtesy Deoslas Mezcal
She added that none of the agave goes to waste as almost all parts of the plant are used in the production process. Any plant that is harvested is also replanted for future generations, creating no natural waste.
Mezcal enthusiasts can find hints of vanilla, citrus, and black pepper. Desolas also believes the dry air and chalky soil give the drink its smooth finish.
The feedback has been great. Desolas won Mezcal of the Year at the Bartender Spirits Awards in 2023. It was in the Top 10 Mezcals at the Spirits Business Awards, too.
A gold medal was also awarded at the Tequila and Mezcal Masters Competition and the Packaging and Design Awards. The liquor received a 97/100 at the Chilled 100 Spirits Awards, listed in the 25 Best Mezcals of 2023 by Vinepair, and picked up another gold medal at the New Orleans Spirits Competition.
InsideHook says Desolas is the brand you should try if you “hate” mezcal. The sweet flavor could appeal to those who are apprehensive about the spirit. Writer Lou Bank explained how to taste the full beverage profile.
“Pop your tongue into the liquid and run it on the roof of your mouth and behind your teeth, like you’re kissing yourself, to clear your palate,” Bank said. “Then take a half sip — the smallest sip you’ve ever taken — and leave it on your tongue to the count of five. This gives you a chance to acclimate to the complexity, which can be the reason you don’t like mezcal.”
Photo Courtesy Desolas Mezcal
The label is also worth mentioning. It uses imagery and symbology, highlighting the spirit of nature. Mirvis explained that the bottle is green in honor of the giant agave plants. The name “Desolas” is a derivative of Latin words for light and illumination and honors the sun for growing these giant plants.
The rhino and snake images represent an ancient story about how one of the oldest Native Tribes in Mexico discovered how to make mezcal. The story initially featured a deer chasing a snake. The rhino was added as a personal trope by Mirivs.
“We wanted to keep the label as tradition as we could without having a combination of tradition and modern,” she said.
Another press release shared with The Business Download explained that Southern Glazer’s Wine and Spirits will distribute the brand in Texas. It will be available in the state’s largest spirits retailer, Spec’s.
Mirvis believes in preserving the traditions of the handcrafted, artisanal spirit. It’s a long process, but it produces something delicious.
She has overseen Desolas’ entry into the U.S. retail market. Five states — New York, Florida, Georgia, Texas, and California — carry the mezcal in stores; it can be shipped to 41 states. Mirvis said the company is entering Colorado soon and recently arrived in Canada. In New York and Florida, Desolas can be found at certain entertainment venues.
Desolas was on display in Aspen, CO, for a collaboration with outwear brand The Arrivals and cashmere brand Active Cashmere. At a dinner at the Soho House, Desolas was tasted, and attendees got custom merchandise.
When asked what the future holds for Desolas, Mirivs said, “The goal is to really work closely with our partners and work in the market that we’re in and really do it well. I’m a big fan of not expanding quickly and doing things really right when we’re doing it.” She also said she has new products launching next year, but details couldn’t be shared at this time.