Copyright © 2020 Albuquerque Journal
It’s been a while since the famous saloon owner and courtesan Maria Gertrudis “Tules” Barceló was spotted around Santa Fe, but she was recently seen at the bar at El Farol on Canyon Road.
Of course, it wasn’t Doña Tules in the flesh; she died in 1852. But her image is gracing the bottles of a line of high-quality mezcal named in her honor.
With the governor’s proclamation shutting down bars, it might be a while before you can sip spirits in a public place. But guess what? There’s a virtual club that’s marketing the añejo mezcal online.
Founded by filmmaker Scott Andrews, the Doña Tules Single Barrel Club purchases small lots of mezcal produced in Mexico and brings them up the Turquoise Trail to Santa Fe, where they are aged in French and American oak for a minimum of 15 months. The youngest release to date is 19 months, and the oldest 30 months.
The venture has pledged to give 50% of its profits to local community organizations in Mexico that are selected with the help of its traditional producers. The other half will go to a nonprofit called The Wisdom Archive (thewisdomarchive.com), which makes documentaries about disappearing traditional culture here, in Mexico and around the world.
In the spirit of full disclosure, it must be revealed that Andrews declined to be interviewed by Journal North because he promised another publication an exclusive in June. In light of recent events, that seems a long time to wait for an interview.
Bottles of Doña Tules barrels No. 1, 2 and 3 are in town right now. Why wait to talk about the Single Barrel Club, especially when there’s plenty of information about it on the company’s website?
Here’s how it works, according to the website: In every barrel, 250 bottles are reserved for club members. When the club is full, the bottles will not be sold to the general public. When there are a few extra bottles or special editions outside the regular club offerings, they will be made available first to club members.
Members agree to buy one bottle of each release (two releases per year) at $150 (including shipping) each. These releases will be bottled and shipped on May 1 and November 1. Subscribing members are entitled to buy additional bottles of each edition, when available, for $120.
Once the coronavirus crisis has passed and bars are open again, you can spend the evening sipping mezcal from the first three barrels, which were produced by mezcalero Edgar Gonzalez in the village of San Cristobal Lachirioag in Mexico.
To educate mezcal aficionados about Gonzalez, Andrews has made a documentary about him, which can be viewed on forsippingonly.com. Doña Tules Single Barrel Anejo Mezcals can be found at Geronimo, Sazon, El Farol and Paloma in Santa Fe.
The company also offers a craft aging kit, which contains 11 aging sticks that “promise to turn your bottle into a barrel, your silver tequila into an añejo and your run-of-the-mill scotch or bourbon into a double-barreled beauty,” according to the website. The $120 kit comes with instructions, oxidation membranes and reabsorption tubes.
No doubt Doña Tules would be proud of her namesake. The card sharp was one of the first saloon owners to bring barrels of Mexican agave spirits up the Turquoise Trail for her patrons in Santa Fe.