The Tasting Panel magazine

July 2014

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108  /  the tasting panel  /  july 2014 W hile savvy spirits producers have their finger on the pulse of the next big thing, there are some who choose to bring a spirit to the forefront with an added level of care and respect. This is the case for Fausto Zapata and Vicente Cisneros, founders of El Silencio Mezcal. For Zapata, developing El Silencio and partnering with Master Mezcalier Pedro Hernández is as much a labor of love as it is an exciting new venture. "It's my drink of choice, and I have always been enamored with everything involved with its produc- tion—where it's from, how it's made and the people who make it," affirms Zapata, as he surveys the fastidiously arranged bar at A.O.C. restaurant in Los Angeles, one of the brand's most supportive accounts. "The notion of producing a mezcal lingered in my mind throughout my adult life. About three years ago, Vicente and I talked about forming our own label. Although we did not act upon anything immediately, we observed interest in how the mezcal wave was beginning to swell." The perfect opportunity to see how the El Silencio dream would play out in reality came through a gala Zapata was planning in conjunction with the Chase Foundation, providing financial support to Child Life Programs at Children's Hospital Los Angeles and Mattel Children's Hospital UCLA. The May 2013 party, themed "Mezcal at Dusk," allowed Zapata, Cisneros and their San Baltazar, Oaxaca–based distilling partners to release the first batch of their artisanal mezcal, a refined, twice- distilled spirit consisting of three different types of agave. "Everything flowed so well, and the mezcal was so well received that we decided to proceed and launch the company," Zapata recalls. "The opportunity was clearly there, so the question for me was if I wanted to just ride the mezcal wave or actually become the brand that helps drive the swell. The answer was the latter. And then, everything—from the production to importation to distri- bution to generating interest from accounts, consumers and the press—came together perfectly." The Sound of Silencio Fausto Zapata is the co-founder of El Silencio Mezcal. THIS CRAFT MEZCAL IS AN ABSOLUTE ESSENTIAL FOR THE BARMAN'S ARSENAL by Elyse Glickman / photos by Cal Bingham

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