A Brooklyn and Mexico-based spirits company just debuted a limited-edition line of mezcales, crafted from 12 to 20-year-old agave plants, in collectable-worthy bottles.
OAX Original® features three different styles of agave spirits: Arroqueño, which comes in a black bottle; Tobalá, which comes in a white bottle; and Tepeztate, which comes in a pink bottle. Crafted by third-generation master mezcalero Enrique Hernandez Zenea, the mezcales are created using wild, single-origin, foraged agave plants, which were 12 to 25 years in age at harvest time.
“The idea behind this brand is searching for beauty,” says Laura Giraudo, co-founder and creative lead/designer, OAX Original®. “We approach mezcales differently, and the concept behind this brand is the search of beauty.”
The beauty starts with the mezcales themselves and their different expressions. Arroqueño comes from plants that are ages 14 to 18 years, and it boasts a thick body with a buttery palatability with hints of sweet coffee. Tobalá is made from plants with an average age of 12 years old, and it boasts a complex and explosive flavor, with floral and herbal hints in its silky body. Tepeztate is made from 25-year-old plants, with a dense body and smoky and wet earth aromas, with a warm and lingering taste. All OAX Original® mezcales can be purchased online, as well as some select retailers, and they range in price from $110 to $180 per bottle, and only about 900 bottles of each have been produced.
“Mezcal fans have been blown away by their beauty, but there has also been great interest by people who have never tried mezcal before,” says Giraudo, who also is a co-founder of Bardo Industries, an interdisciplinary Design Studio based in Brooklyn, NY. “Some people buy it because they’re attracted to the brand, but we’ve seen customers order online, and then they come back and order another time, and that’s just been within the last month and a half (since the brand launched in December).”
A big reason for non-mezcal drinkers to decide to purchase OAX Original® is because of the bottles its expressions come in. Each bottle is unique and different, and their design is inspired by vernacular Mexican architecture, a blend between the mysterious monolithic pre-Hispanic architecture and Euro-American Modernist designs spearheaded by Luis Barragán and presently embodied in the work of architects Frida Escobedo, Maurico Rocha and Gabriela Carrillo, among others.
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The inspiration for the bottles also came from a project Giraudo and her partner at Bardo, Roberto Bernasconi, had been working on in their design studio – that of concrete vases. “We also wanted to create a brand that celebrates the quality of the mezcal from a visual point of view, and we decided to translate this homage to Mexican architecture,” Giraudo says. “We were very much inspired to design custom bottles that celebrate the mezcal inside, but also Mexican architecture and Mexican culture.”
The bottles themselves are ceramic, and they have texture and weight, and they look different from each angle, Giraudo points out. A lot of customers have written to the team to tell them that they are saving their bottles.
Designers have also been intrigued by the bottle designs. “Some designers we know hold the bottle and say ‘Oh, this bottle is so weird, I love it,’ and others say ‘I didn’t like it the first time, but then I see it again, and I love it,’” Giraudo says. “And I think that’s great for people to have a reaction other than ‘Nothing, oh, yeah, whatever.’”
“One thing that is very interesting to me is that we have a lot of female customers, and I wasn’t expecting that,” Giraudo says. “I was expecting maybe 50-50, but about 75 percent of our sales are to females. I think this is definitely very interesting to see how this moves forward from a business point of view.”
Though Giraudo herself is a woman involved in this project, she and her team haven’t pushed the female-owned brand angle in marketing. “This hasn’t been publicized too much that there’s a woman involved,” she says.