Bud Light is once again the official beer of South by Southwest — now in full swing in Austin — but a much more small-batch alcoholic beverage is also making a big appearance at the festival.
Last week, Kimo Sabe Mezcal announced a three-year deal as the official mezcal of the fest. That means music, film and technology lovers will have an opportunity to try the Mexican spirit in multiple places, including at happy hour parties at the Trusted Friends Lounge inside the Austin Convention Center, a sampling area at the Lady Bird Lake Outdoor Stage and other surprise pop-ups at SXSW.
That’s a lot of exposure for the smoky mezcal, currently the fastest growing spirit even though its more well-known agave cousin, tequila, still dominates the U.S. market. But the founders of Kimo Sabe, father-daughter team Jim Walsh and Ashley Walsh Kvamme, have an ambitious plan to spread their product across the U.S. and have already seen the mezcal make double-digit gains of tequila market share in a few states like California, according to a news release.
Walsh Kvamme, in an interview with the fest, said that Kimo Sabe (which means ‘trusted friend’ in Sonoran Indian) is a good fit with SXSW.
“Like SXSW, Kimo Sabe mezcal is about discovery,” she said. “Mezcal as a spirit is still a mystery to most people. Our goal is to introduce the SXSW influencer to the exciting, mystical agave blend that is mezcal, and Kimo Sabe in particular as the face of mezcal.”
Kimo Sabe Mezcal has two expressions, joven and reposado. The joven — unaged, which means you’ll get the full blast of smoke not tempered by wood maturation — is full of chipotle and roasted pepper notes along with semi-sweet chocolate and lemon balm, according to the company. The reposado, aged in oak for six months, features a flavor profile of toasted almond, toasted coconut and chamomile tea.
There’s also an incoming añejo.
The company’s push for massive growth across the U.S. might seem counter to the needs of the mezcal industry, whose biggest proponents push for sustainability with the agave crop, but Kimo Sabe is addressing that, too.
“Kimo Sabe and the governor of Zacatecas, Mexico, announced last week a ground-breaking partnership that will create sustainable, organic ecosystems for the cultivation of varietal agaves, generating up to 100 new agave farms and creating over 1,000 new jobs in the state,” according to the press release. “The move is part of Kimo Sabe’s plan to build bridges with Mexico when others are suggesting walls.”