A Scottish business has launched the country’s first agave spirit range made by a brewer.
The brewery, which is based in Dyce, Aberdeen and best known for its flavoursome beers, boasts a rum and gin portfolio and is the first beer company in the country to create a spirit with agave.
Using wild agave plants which grow in Mexico, Fierce Beer works with a local firm to get access to the agave syrup they use in the product.
The business in Mexico grows and harvests the native plant which looks similar to a spicy cactus, buries it and sets it on fire to capture the raw sap from it. This technique is used when creating some mezcals and tequilas.
The raw syrupy sap gets transported to the brewery via a distributor in Spain.
Working with distiller Lewis Scothern of Distillutions in Arbroath who created Fierce’s gin and rum, the team have developed a series of three expressions which will be available to purchase from September 11.
Dave Grant, managing director of Fierce Beer and Fierce Spirits, said: “We went down the gin route to start off and then dabbled in rum for a bit as it was really interesting.
“Through a company in Madrid, we import agave syrup from Mexico. We bring it in, ferment it and distill that liquor into a spirit with Lewis. He makes gin for lots of businesses across Scotland for various different brands and made all of our gins and rums. He is a brewer and distiller so when the syrup comes in he dilutes it down a bit, ferments it like a high-strength beer, and because he has a background in brewing, he knows what conditions to put it in to get some really cool flavours.
“The agave plant is grown in Mexico and it will get chopped down and will then be buried and set fire to – that’s how they get the sugars out. The team across in Mexico then press it and it comes across in liquid syrup form in a drum. It is straight from the plant. You can get it crystallised, but it isn’t as good.”
Launching three expressions, blanco, roble and ahumado, Dave has ensured a Fierce twist has been incorporated into the line, with the addition of chipotle chillies added to the ahumado expression and the roble being aged in new oak casks.
While the product cannot be marketed as a tequila or mezcal due to the spirits’ heritage, it is very much inspired by the popular drinks. Tequila must be manufactured in the regions of Jalisco and the surrounding Mexican states, and mezcal must be made in Mexico.
He added: “It tastes so different. Tequila and mezcal both have origin behind them so we can’t really call it that, so we’re calling it an agave spirit. Agave isn’t location-specific, although, it is more like a mezcal as it’s soft, floral and smooth. It is 42% ABV and takes just one week to create, and is very drinkable on its own. I don’t believe anyone is fermenting agave in Scotland, maybe not even in the UK.
“For the aged flavour, the spirit is put in fresh American oak barrels for a few days – that’s really all it needs as it’s such a soft spirit. If we put it in for any more it looked more like a bourbon and started tasting like one, too. It tastes of rose petals and is very interesting stuff. The next step will be for us to put it in some of the barrels we’ve put our beers in. The oak aged one was inspired by our barrel aged beers.
“We wanted to bring one Fierce flavour out and we toyed with a few ideas. We were looking at one with cinnamon and one with chipotle and we thought people would associate chipotle more with the spirit, as it is smoked jalapenos which is popular in Mexico. We’ve also had smoked chipotle in some of our beers, too, but it is more like a peaty whisky flavour. It’s like a west coast whisky with a bit of spice. It will be perfect for classic Mexican cocktails, or a Bloody Mary. Mixing it with grapefruit juice works really well. It is pretty spicy!”
Producing around 100 bottles per expression in the first run, the firm has already invested in additional agave syrup as Dave and the team expect big things from the spirits. They’re looking to bolster the second run to 200-300 bottles of each flavour.
“It is a small batch to start off with, but we’ve already purchased more syrup because we know it will do really well. The first quantity is a 200-litre drum, so we’ll get about 150 litres of spirit out of it. We’re selling it in 500ml bottles so will get around 100 bottles. The second batches will have 200-300 bottles of each,” said Dave.
“We are still to confirm the price point for now, but I think we will also sell smaller 100ml bottles in a trio so customers can try all three flavours. We’re just going to be selling them in the bar and on our online shop.”
The beer firm is also set to launch its third bar in the UK, with plans to reveal the new site on September 4.