Friday, May 4, 2018

A Fascinating Mezcal Resource: "Holy Smoke! It’s Mezcal!" (2nd Ed.) by John P. McEvoy

There are only a handful of books in English which concentrate on Mezcal, that compelling agave spirit from Mexico. When I started my deeper explorations of Mezcal, I devoured the few Mezcal books that existed, including Holy Smoke! It’s Mezcal! by John P. McEvoy, the author of the excellent blog, Mezcal Phd. I found the book to be a comprehensive look at Mezcal, from its history to information on many producers. When people asked me for a recommendation for a Mezcal book, Holy Smoke was always at the top of my recommendations. That won't change at all with this new edition, which is even a better resource.

John P. McEvoy has recently released a revised, second edition of Holy Smoke, and it is significantly larger, with plenty of new information, and is even more fascinating than the first edition. Holy Smoke! It’s Mezcal! The Revised 2nd Edition (published in April 2018) is currently available as a trade paperback, of 272 pages (the previous edition was only 204 pages), in either a Color ($34.99) or Black & White ($16.99) edition. An E-book version is not yet available. John sent me a complimentary copy of the book, an acknowledgment of my contributions to expanding the history of Pechuga Mezcal.

On his blog, John explained the relatively high price of the Color edition. In short, his book is self-published, through Amazon CreateSpace, and the cost to print the book in color is quite expensive. John is taking a minimal royalty on the color edition. The black & white edition is less expensive, at half the price, and still contains all of the same information. As I've self-published my own novels, I fully understand John's dilemma with publishing a book with numerous color photos. And I appreciate that he gave potential readers the option of a less expensive, black & white edition.

I'll also mention that John referenced me (in a very kind way) on a couple pages in his new edition, in his chapter, "Pechuga, Aged in Glass, and Ensembles." John mentions the information I posted in An Expanded History of Pechuga Mezcal, where I found documentary evidence of the existence of Pechuga as far back as 1864, expanding the known history of Pechuga by about 70 years. I'm grateful that John mentioned me in his new book.

How is the 2nd Edition different from the 1st? First, you'll note there are new chapters including Process Trumps Varietals, The Rise of MezcalPechuga, Aged in Glass, and Ensembles, Mezcal Starter Kit and The Professional Edition, and A Brief Guide to Oaxaca. A couple chapters were also eliminated, including Traditional versus Artisanal Mezcal and Mezcal Will Change You. You don't lose any information as those chapters were subsumed into new chapters. Some of the same chapters have been revised and expanded, sometimes in small ways and sometimes in a more significant manner. The end result is plenty of new and intriguing, up-to-date information on mezcal and its current status.

This is a book of value to all mezcal lovers, whether you are just starting to learn about this wonderful spirit or you've already been a fan for several years. John has written a comprehensive book that touches on so many different mezcal issues. And the new edition is even more compelling with all of its new details, stories, and recommendations. I also love the color edition with all of its beautiful photography. The book is written in a fun and easy style, making it accessible for people of any knowledge level, and you'll enjoy some of the humorous bits scattered through the book.

If you have any interest in Mezcal, then I highly recommend Holy Smoke! It’s Mezcal! The Revised 2nd Edition. John has done an excellent job of updating his work.

1 comment:

John McEvoy said...

Richard, thanks for the kind review! The book would be less than it is without your contributions. But mostly, I'm just glad you liked it!