Erstwhile Mezcal

Erstwhile Mezcal is a mezcal brand based in Brooklyn, New York and Oaxaca, Mexico. We specialize in small-batch artisanal and ancestral mezcal.

We set ourselves apart from other mezcal brands in several ways. For starters, we do not sacrifice excellence to maximize profit or convenience. We commit the Erstwhile brand if and only if it is an excellent or extraordinary mezcal. No matter how small the volume. No matter how cumbersome the logistics.

Second, we are curatorial. Our vision: keep on discovering kickass, previously-unavailable distillations by new mezcaleros; promote and introduce them to mezcal lovers under the Erstwhile brand.  In this sense we are not encumbered by family loyalty like family-owned brands are.  When you buy Erstwhile Mezcal, you support not just one but all the mezcaleros we partner with.

Third, our mezcalero producers are our partners, not our employees. We pay our partner mezcaleros fairly. We do not ask them for exclusivity or discounts.  We care about our mezcalero partners’ economic empowerment, and put our money where our mouth is.  We seek out mezcaleros who are interested in exporting out of Mexico, but do not have the means to do so on their own.  We help them get certified and licensed for export. We feel good about the fact that we help our mezcalero partners clear these hurdles from the get-go, independent of their work with us in the future.

Fourth, we are committed to transparency.  Look at the back label of every Erstwhile bottle.  Read our product pages, blog posts and social media.  Talk to us at events and tastings.  We are proud and open about who our partner mezcaleros are, and every aspect of how we do business.

Last but not least, we are committed to mezcal education and sustainability.  Erstwhile Mezcal is a woman-owned business. We support fellow women in mezcal production and all aspects of the alcohol industry whenever possible.

the Vision of

Our Founders

Erstwhile Mezcal was co-founded by Yuan Ji and Kevin J. Brown (the mastermind behind Geographicus Rare Antique Maps). Yuan and Kevin are no strangers to coups de foudre.  Mezcal and Oaxaca go so darn well with their other weaknesses (cocktails, delicious food and swashbuckling adventure, to name a few).  It is hard not to be smitten.  Upon returning from their first trip together to Oaxaca in the fall of 2015, Yuan and Kevin had a vision that has sharpened in focus with the passage of time:

A new mezcal brand after their own hearts. With a reputation for small-batch artisanal mezcal of only the finest quality or extraordinary provenance, painstakingly curated after many a tasting trip through the Oaxacan countryside.  Sourced from master mezcaleros’ personal libraries.  Made available for the first time to mezcal lovers in the U.S. and international market beyond.

A mezcal brand that promotes and advocates for its partner mezcaleros.  Committed to mezcal education, transparency, sustainability and fair trade.  The mezcal of choice for doers. For risk-takers, nonconformists, independent thinkers, and swashbucklers.  For people who lead lives believing if their dreams do not scare them, the dreams are not big enough.  

When you taste Erstwhile Mezcal, you experience the complexities and flavors of a slow, small-batch handcraft, honed and passed down from generation to generation.  You support the families and partake in the family traditions of our partner mezcaleros.  You make into reality a world that Erstwhile Mezcal’s founders envisioned and then built with their hearts and souls.

Yuan and Kevin