View as Map
Mezcal tasting (Photo courtesy of Agave Heritage Festival)

Tasting Events During the 2024 Agave Heritage Festival

Updated April 11, 2024

There are festivals and then there is the Agave Heritage Festival on Thursday, April 18 – Sunday, April 21, which is in a category of its own.

The enriching and interactive four-day event dedicated to agave and the Southwest’s relationship to Mexico and the great Sonoran Desert region offers a unique perspective into the flavors and traditions of regional and heritage foods and spirits. This culinary weekend includes not-to-be-missed tasting events that pair some of the industry’s experts with interactive and educational activities at venues around Tucson.

Read on for an outline of each of this year’s Tastings, grab your tickets while they’re available, and click here to explore the full list of events happening at this year’s Festival.

a group of people standing in front of a store
Wall of whiskey at Batch (Photo by Hannah Hernandez)

Batch Whiskey & Donuts

Friday, April 19

For this guided tasting, agave spirits luminaries Salvador “Chava” Rosales Trejo of Tequila Cascahuín and Pedro Jimenez of Mezonte Agave Spirits and Tasting Room in Guadalajara will be leading guests through an exploration of a variety of agave spirits from the state of Jalisco. Attendees of this tasting will get to explore samples of Tequila Cascahuín, Siembra Valles Tequila, and Mezonte Agave Spirits with the brand owners themselves! Be sure to grab your ticket to this extraordinary tasting, as seats will sell out fast.

Get your tickets!

Saturday, April 20

Make your way to Batch for a Chocolate & Mezcal Tasting with their friends from Rufina Mezcal and Embers Chocolate. This will be an intimate event with only 20 reserved seats available.

Rufina is a collection of mezcaleros from San Luis Amatlan, Oaxaca producing some of the most incredible mezcal expressions. Embers Chocolate is a woman-owned chocolatier that creates chef-inspired with unique flavor profiles not normally tasted; produced from scratch beans to bar. During this pairing, attendees will have the opportunity to not only explore how these flavors can complement one another but also how both agave and cacao can yield very different flavors based on region, growing methods, and processing.

This pairing will go down on Saturday, April 20 from 6 – 8 p.m. Tickets are $30 each, which include five chocolates and paired mezcals, and can be purchased here. Gratuity not included. Limited Rufina bottles will also be available for purchase with special Agave Heritage Festival pricing along with bars of Embers Chocolate.

A photo of the interior of the Tucson mezcal bar known as El Crisol
El Crisol (Photo Credit: Anna Smirnova)

Crisol Bar

Thursday, April 18

Join the Bar Crisol team as they host the closing reception for the University of Arizona Hannelore Quander-Rattee Works-in-Translation Reading featuring Natalia Toledo. Our friends from NETA and Ixcateco agave spirits will be on hand pouring a special menu of some of their incredible spirits from Oaxaca in celebration of Natalia’s reading. Produced in the Logoche and Nochixtlan areas of Oaxaca, each one of these wonderful brands are some of the premiere examples of mezcal from their respective regions.

The Natalia Toledo Poetry Reading Reception takes place from 8:30 – 10 p.m. Guests who show a physical copy of the Poetry Center calendar get their first mezcal or flight for half-off. No tickets are required for admission.

Thursday, April 18

Join César Ojeda Linares and Vinik Juré, two experts in the field, for a fascinating discussion of the biological and cultural significance of local plants and derived fermentations in traditional communities in Mexico. Danny Childs, author of Slow Drinks: A Field Guide to Foraging and Fermentation… will also be on-hand to explain how to re-create these ferments at home and incorporate them into your home bar program! In addition, learn about the potential of fermenting local plants in our own region. Samples of fermentations will be served!

Tickets are $40 per person. 

Saturday, April 20

Mexico’s northern states are still not as squarely on the agave spirits map as, say, Oaxaca and Jalisco. Yet the borderlands area presents many distinct traditions and a wealth of mezcal diversity. Join Luis Loya of Lamata, Omhar Acuña of Los Cantiles 1905, and the Encinas family of Batuq to learn about the history, geography, botany, and current production of bacanora, palmilla, lechuguilla, and other distillates in the Mexican North. A tasting will accompany.

The Spirits of Northern Mexico Tasting will kick off at 2 p.m. Tickets are $40 each and can be purchased here.

Sunday, April 21

Sotol, derived from the Dasylirion genus (aka Desert Spoon), is not an agave spirit. But it neighbors agave spirits in its similar production methods. Sotol’s denomination of origin embraces three Mexican states – Chihuahua, Coahuila, and Durango – but the distillate occurs in other northern states, not least Sonora. It is sometimes called “the spirit of the desert.” In recent years, the rise of sotol in spirits markets has raised questions about its future sustainability.

Join sotol activists Sandro Cánovas and Omhar Acuña of Los Cantiles 1905 for a tasting and discussion surrounding sotol’s heritage and production.

This information experience will take place from 6 – 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $40 each and can be purchased here.

Sunday, April 21

Crisol Bar hosts Hugo Gonzales of Maestros del Mezcal and Of Spine & Vine Imports as he conducts a blind tasting of five Maestros del Mezcal expressions. Participants should have their pallets primed as there will be a competitive element to this tasting.

All the mezcal made by members of Maestros del Mezcal is considered traditional mezcal; that is to say, it is produced in a traditional manner without the use of special yeasts of accelerants. The only ingredients used are agave, water, work and love.

The Maestros del Mezcal Blind Tasting will take place at 8 p.m. Tickets can be purchased here.

Sunday, April 21

Sotol, derived from the Dasylirion genus (aka Desert Spoon), is not an agave spirit. But it neighbors agave spirits in its similar production methods. Sotol’s denomination of origin embraces three Mexican states–Chihuahua, Coahuila, and Durango–but the distillate occurs in other northern states, not least Sonora. It is sometimes called “the spirit of the desert.” In recent years, the rise of sotol in spirits markets has raised questions about its future sustainability. Join Sotol activist Sandro Cánovas Sotol Lazadores Co-Op President Daniel Chavira, and Omhar Acuña of Los Cantiles 1905 for a tasting and discussion surrounding Sotol’s heritage and production.

Tickets are $40 per person.

Hotel Congress (Photo courtesy of Agave Heritage Festival)

Hotel Congress

This annual signature event showcases all things agave, including presentations, over 50 small-batch artisanal agave spirits, and an agave cocktail showdown. Enjoy live music from Mamma Coal and AB Sanchez, delicious food, agave spirit tastings, agave art, and other goods produced or inspired by the agave plant. Discover the nuances of and differences between mezcal, bacanora, and tequila, get to know the producers themselves, and enjoy delicious food pairings during the Grand Tasting.

The Agave Fiesta takes place on Saturday, April 20, from 7 – 10 p.m. Tickets are $65 and include four mezcal neat pours, two mezcal cocktails samples, one local beer sample, and a plate of food from the culinary team of Cup Cafe. Get your ticket here.

Photo Courtesy of Mission Garden

Mission Garden

Presented by the passionate folks of Crisol, this perennial favorite of festival attendees, the Mexican Fermented Beverage Workshop, is a delicious and informative exploration of an often overlooked part of the gastronomic patrimony of Mexico. Exploring fermentations allows us to consider connections between people and places in fresh ways. The “unseen” contributors to ecosystems, in this case microbes like yeast and bacteria, form a fundamental part of foodscapes and diets.

The Mexican Fermented Beverage Workshop takes place on Thursday, April 20 at 2 p.m. Tickets to participate are $40 and can be purchased here.

(Photo courtesy of Penca)

Penca

Join Mezcal Vago for a unique and philanthropic event featuring an agave photo exhibit, a Mezcal Vago tasting, and a silent auction, where all profits will be donated to a seed bank and agave landscape restoration project in Mexico.

Guests will savor six different expressions of Mezcal Vago through a guided tasting led by Mexico National Ambassador and Hospitality Director Andres Cruz, while surrounded by photographs of the very same agave plants that produced the mezcal that event-goers will be enjoying. Guests will move around and explore the photo exhibit while their hosts with insights into the photos and offer additional mezcal expressions for tasting, fostering an interactive and immersive experience. Guests also have the opportunity to participate at the silent auction, bidding on their favorite photographs to support the noble cause of agave preservation and restoration in Mexico.

This event aims to connect guests with the agaves visually and through taste while sampling the agaves depicted in the photographs through the diverse mezcal expressions offered.

The Mezcal Vago Tasting takes place on Friday, April 19, and offers three different options for attendees to join in on:

  • Option 1: Raíces: A Morning of Connections and Conversations Session from 10 a.m. – 1 p.m.
  • Option 2: Mujer Agave Tasting from 1 – 5 p.m.
  • Options 3: Both of the above event sessions. Tickets offer access from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Tickets for all options can be purchased here.

a room that has a sign on the side of a building
Stairs to Playground's rooftop patio (Photo by Isaac Stockton)

Playground Bar & Lounge

Agave rules the night with cocktails, mezcal, and culinary delights! Kick off the night with a traditional mezcal toast at the Playground Bar & Lounge and then stroll to any of the over 12 participating Downtown Tucson restaurant and bar locations Ticket includes veladora (traditional mezcal sipping glass), lanyard, mezcal toast with Mezcal, light bites & mezcal cocktail samples at all 12 locations.

The MezCrawl kicks off on Thursday, April 18 at 5 p.m. Explore all participating venues with this MezCrawl Guide, and get your tickets here while they’re available.

Rooftop bar & dining area (Photo courtesy of Reilly Craft Pizza & Drink)

Reilly Craft Pizza and Drink

Join Zinacantan co-founder, Diana Pinzon, and Raíces Imports on Thursday, April 18 at 3 p.m. at Reilly as they shine a light on this ecologically-focused mezcal project based in Southern Puebla.

Zincacantan was founded in 2012 by mezcalera Fabiola Torres-Monfil and her co-founder Diana Pinzon. Based in Southern Puebla in the town of San Diego de la Mesa Tochimiltzingo, Fabiola’s family has been making mezcal for over three hundred years. Making only 1,500 liters per year, Fabiola & Diana have partnered to create one of the most ecologically-minded mezcal projects in the world.

While the brand is over ten years old, it has only recently been imported into the United States. This is one of the first opportunities to learn about this incredible project from one of the founders themselves.

Tickets are $40 each and can be purchased here.

Sidecar

Join Mark SoRelle of PKGD GROUP Importers and Isaiah Bruno of Sidecar for an evening of amazing agave spirits. Guests will enjoy three neat pours of G4 Blanco, G4 Reposado, and Mezcal Palomo Espadin accompanied with light bites and traditional mezcal accompaniments.

G4 is the 4th Generation masterpiece Tequila of Felipe Camarena and his sons. Made using a combination of mountain spring and captured rainwater, multi-generational yeast, and the finest agave from Jesus Maria en Los Altos de Jalisco this is the standard for the additive-free movement.

Palomo is the definition of authentic and natural, from the Capital del Mundo de Mezcal, Matatlan, Oaxaca. Roasted in an earthen pit using Oak wood vs Pine, Palomo is a treat of Agave and Citrus flavors, complex and lovely when served neat and punches above its weight in any quality cocktail. The House Brand of 3rd Generation producer Carlos Mendez and the Winner of Esquire’s exclusive Spirits Awards and the “Best in Show” Mezcal at the TAG Spirits Awards in Las Vegas.

The Sidecar Tasting is on Thursday, April 18 at 8 p.m., and tickets can be purchased here.

a group of people standing around a table
(Photo courtesy of Tap & Bottle North)

Tap & Bottle – North

Join the Tap & Bottle North crew on Thursday, April 18 for a tasting event with La Gritona Tequila Reposado. Distilled by Melly Barajas and her staff of women at her distillery in Valle De Guadalupe, Jalisco, they’ll be discussing women in the Tequila industry while light bites are served to enhance your sipping experience, which will include one neat pour of La Gritona Reposado Tequila and two cocktails made with La Gritona Reposado Tequila.

All ticket holders will get a complimentary 50ml bottle of La Gritona Reposado Tequila to take home with them as well, and all bottles will be available for purchase after the event.

The tasting will take place from 5:30 – 7 p.m.. Tickets are $50 and tickets can be purchased here.

Tohono Chul Garden Bistro

Saturday, April 20 – Agaves, Arte y Alebrijes Festival

Come and experience an enchanting fusion of art, music, cuisine, libations, and culture with Tohono Chul and the Agave Heritage Festival. Embark on an afternoon journey where the captivating rhythms of Som do Sisal, the Brazilian Agave Orchestra, harmonize with the talents of Luis Loya from LaMata and Rion Toal from Cuish, showcasing the versatile nature of the agave plant as both a spirit and a repurposed musical instrument. Delight in a Mexican Folk Art exhibition or engage in informative discussions led by knowledgeable docents on the intricacies of agave and culinary traditions. Be sure to arrive early to fully immerse yourself in this vibrant celebration.

Learn more.

9 a.m. – 4 p.m.

All Ages

$5.00 Members Festival only

$20.00 Members plus Mezcal tasting

$20.00 General Public Festival only

$35.00 General Public plus Mezcal tasting

Photo courtesy of Tooley's Cafe

Tooley’s Cafe

Friday, April 19

Please note: this event is only available with a ticket purchase of Mujer Agave

Join Tooley’s Cafe for this very special tasting with three icons of the Oaxacan mezcal world, Sandra Ortiz Brenna of In Situ Mezcaleria and Mezcaciarca mezcal, Graciela Angeles Carreño Mezcal Real Minero, and Silvia Philion of Mezcaloteca, as they guide guests through an intimate exploration of some of their favorite bottlings.

Mujer Agave is a collective of women in the agave spirits industry where unity, legacy, and joy are taught through diverse conferences and experiences. It’s geared toward empowering and connecting female stakeholders in the agave industry across disciplines.

This one-night-only tasting will take place on Friday, April 19 from 4:30 – 5:30 p.m. and will include a sampling of two mezcals from three brands; six samples in total. Learn more here.

Saturday, April 20

Guests will enjoy a pour of Montaraz Bacanora, a Manchado Bacanora cocktail, and a taco while they are educated on the place, plant, and process of creating bacanora. During this class attendees will be painting a jicara, a dried-out shell of a gourd, which is a traditional drinking vessel for mezcal in Mexico.

This tasting takes place at 11 a.m., and tickets can be purchased here.

Photo courtesy of Westbound

Westbound

During this tasting, attendees will have the opportunity to learn from Mexico’s renowned Mezcaleras Berta Vasquez and Alex White, the director & designer of Rezpiral. While sipping three different, unique mezcals, Berta and Alex will explain how Rezpiral works with producers while supporting their craft and agricultural ways. Light bites will be provided to accompany the tasting.

These two have been working together for over eight years. Together they put forth a blueprint for how the industry at large could be more sustainable ecologically, socially, and culturally, including agave nurseries, transplanting agave, and profit sharing – all topics that are important to the agave spirits industry, though they often go overlooked.

The tasting will take place on Saturday, April 20, and will include three one-ounce pours: Rezpiral Series 7 Arroqueño, Rezpiral Series 7 Espadin, and Rezpiral Series 7 Mexicano Capon. All bottles will be available for purchase after the event as well. Two tasting options will be available that day; one from 12 – 1 p.m. and the other from 2 – 3 p.m. Tickets are $50 and can be purchased here.

View as List