“We were pouring Santo like we were putting out a fire with it!”
~ Guy Fieri 

Cover and feature photos by Ethan Miller and courtesy Santo Puro Mezquila

On April 4th, 2019, Southern Glazer's Wine & Spirits of Nevada announced they had teamed up with Rock & Roll Hall of Fame legend Sammy Hagar and Emmy Award-winning television celebrity and American restaurateur Guy Fieri, to launch Santo Puro Mezquila.

If ‘mezquila’ is a new name for you, you're not alone. It's a name coined by Sammy Hagar to describe the blending of the two spirits: tequila and mezcal. The end-product is called mezquila, a new and uniquely different agave spirit.

“ … the diversity and versatility of tequila is vast and appealing. So, if you’re more of a traditionalist whom enjoys tequila or mezcal in its purest form with little to no wood age to a whisky drinker that enjoys deep, lush oak aging, there’s always something out there for you.” ~ Max Solano, Mixologist & Spirits Educator, Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits of Nevada

We checked in with Max Solano and learned some very interesting facts about agave spirits. 

Maybe the most interesting is that agave spirits are one of the best regulated spirits in the world today due to the Mexican government creating very stringent and specific production laws to help maintain the quality of both tequila and mezcal, and going forward, this will include mezquila. There was a time in the not too distant past when all agave spirits were not made equally. And did you know that while most of the tequila distilleries are located in Jalisco (located in the West-Central region of Mexico), the agave tequilena plant (Blue Weber, specifically), that can only be used in making Tequila, grows throughout Mexico? However, tequila can legally be produced in five states (Tamaulipas, Guanajuato, Jalisco, Michoacan and Nayarit). This spicy Mexican agave spirit evolved strictly from Mexico and continues to gain in popularity. It could be said: Mexico, America and tequila share a synergistic evolution.

The increase in the use of oak barrels to impart smoothness and richer flavors have even piqued the interest of the connoisseur. These añejos have helped to elevate this spirit to a whole new level. In fact, tequila, currently the most acclaimed of the agave spirits, has ballooned to ‘double-digit’ increases in sales every year for the past ten years. Millennials and Generation Xers, the same two generations who catapulted both Sammy Hagar to Rock & Roll fame and Guy Fieri into a culinary mogul, also played an important role in tequila's recent triumphs.

How This Mezquila
Partnership Came About

The inspiration to mix mezcal with tequila happened late one night on a beach in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. The flavor of the homemade blend was so remarkable and good that Sammy Hagar took the idea to Juan Eduardo Nuñez, a third generation, master distiller from the El Viejito distillery and the skill behind the success of Cabo Wabo, which has already sold for so much cash that Guy Fieri openly exclaimed, “... that's the kind of guy that builds his own empire of tequila, lets someone else take it and rides the money boat out of town!” He was talking about Sammy Hagar and it's here where the heart of the legend begins. More than friends, they are fans of each other. Guy met Sammy for the first time when he was on tour for his OU812 album and from there, formed a deeper connection that to this day demonstrates something unique and special: their friendship and Santo Puro Mezquila. 

The truth is, there are no two business partners better suited to head up this new enterprise starring the 2018 Silver Medalist of the San Francisco World Spirits Competition: Santo Puro Mezquila. It’s an epic tale of two icons from very different eras and backgrounds—Sammy Hagar and Guy Fieri, and two historic Mexican spirits, mezcal and tequila, and how the joining of these legends created a sensation called Santo Puro Mezquila. As smooth as Sammy Hagar's guitar and vocals and as flavorful as Guy Fieri's culinary creations, this is a spirit that could easily become a passion.

Let’s Meet Sammy and Guy

Guy Fieri opens the press conference announcing, “... we were pouring Santo like we were putting out a fire with it!" And we all realize we are in for one wild ride. Sammy Hagar follows that up with, “It's a spiritual drink.” And we fall into rapt attention. 

There's something about Mezquila… 

Guy describes the flavor: “It's a blend of the two and it has such a nice finish. It sweetens it up a little, then it gives it more body. I think it gives it more life. Tequila's a hot market,” he continued, “and we want to create an even hotter market.” What he's talking about is introducing this incredible new spirit, mezquila, to the world.  

“Sammy knows how to cook,” Guy tells us. “He's passionate about food. He's a businessman, he's a chef, he's a connoisseur of fine wines. Sammy has one of the finest (wine) collections in North America.” 

Sammy, as a rock star, has been touring across the country since the seventies and everywhere he played, he would request six bottles of premium wine for the green room, and would specifically request the bottles not be opened. “Consider his touring schedule,” said Guy. “Sammy was playing almost every single night. So he's collecting fine wines from all around the country … Sammy was doing this all the way back to the seventies, making it happen. But that's the kind of guy who builds his own empire of tequila.”

Significance of the
Santo Puro Mezquila Logo

It’s been fun getting us this far; however, the story isn’t quite over. There's another story from Sammy about their logo. It's the cross with the agave plant at its base representing the ‘T’ in Santo Puro Mezquila. “When someone dies, they put a cross there,” was Sammy’s explanation of the numerous crosses on the sides of the road everywhere in Mexico. “Traveling through Jalisco, I saw a cross with an agave growing next to it ... I went and got a tattoo.” Sammy is serious about Santo. 

Sam Berkley Describes the Tasting at the
Santo Puro Mezquila Press Conference 

“In order to convey the mastery that went into developing a brand new agave category, we chose to taste a highly recognizable Blanco Tequila and a very popular Mezcal. First, upon tasting those side by side, one could recognize that each was a Premium, Top Shelf spirit. Second, we had the group blend them as they saw fit. Upon tasting, you could see the sour faces in the audience as they began to understand that the creation of a perfectly blended ‘Mezquila’ was far more challenging than placing two Premium spirits together. Finally, we moved on to tasting Santo. It was immediately apparent that this was neither a Tequila nor a Mezcal. While still showing a familiar agave taste, this combined the best parts of its agave brothers and sisters into a first-to-market brand new flavor. As more and more consumers become further educated into the Mexican Spirit category, the one-of-a-kind Santo Mezquila will attract a great deal of attention and eventually become a staple of any agave-forward back bar.” ~ Sam Berkley, Director of Trade Development for Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits of Nevada 

Tasting Impressions of
Santo Puro Mezquila

What better way to close than on a final shot of Santo Puro Mezquila which just happens to be part of the opening educational flight presented by Southern Glazer’s as described by Sam Berkley above.

Santo Puro Mezquila, the miracle blend of tequila and mezcal introduced by Sammy Hagar and Guy Fieri and specially handcrafted by third-generation master-distiller Juan Eduardo Nuñez, now sits tantalizingly in front of us as we wait for the green light to take our first sip. It has a softer bite, a bit woodsy, a tad earthy (totally delightful, by the way), and ‘smoky.’ Warm vanilla notes from the Blue Agave come through, while the citrus from the Espadin are retained; this will pair beautifully with the spicy flavors of the southwest, barbeque, and even something as delicate as a salmon fillet. Sold! 

From the creative minds of Sammy Hagar and friends to the Jalisco Highlands of Mexico, a land known for having the best terroir and best altitude for growing agave: that's where Juan Eduardo Nuñez hand-selects the agave plants and blends this very new proprietary recipe at the historic El Viejito Distillery in the traditional town of Atotonilco El Alto (founded by Indalecio Nuñez Muro in 1937) where the art of tequila making has been uplifted to crafting a higher spirit, Santo Puro Mezquila. It's a true first; there is no other mezquila on the market. If you'd like to experience this treat for yourself, pick up a bottle of Santo Puro Mezquila.