11 + Lou Bank / S.A.C.R.E.D
/ Most of the time it works just fine
On this edition of the podcast, we welcomed Lou Bank, entrepreneur and founder of S.A.C.R.E.D (Saving Agave for Culture, Recreation, Education and Development). S.A.C.R.E.D is a not-for-profit that helps improve lives in the rural Mexican communities where heirloom agave spirits are made.
We discuss the projects that S.A.C.R.E.D is currently involved in as well as the mechanism he has created to encourage donations to the organization. Lou shares his technique for bringing back expressions from Mexico (spoiler alert, you can bring back a lot more than I thought).
You can find Lou traveling throughout the states sharing agave distillates along with his particular perspectives about these spirits, Mexico and the mezcal industry. Take a look at this great time-lapse video of the quiote blooming from the 50-year-old Agave Americana at the Garfield Park Conservatory in Chicago. Lou is hosting an event there on Sept 12th to celebrate the blooming plant, a once in its lifetime event!
1. Maestro Mezcalero Victor Ramos at his palenque in Miahuatlan, Oaxaca
2. Maestro Mezcalero Emanuel Ramos in the foreground, father Victor in the background, working on their stills in Miahuatlan, Oaxaca
Their mezcal is frequently bottled under the Mezcaloteca/Mezcalosfera label as well as Mal Bien.
According to Lou: “[Mal Bien] will be releasing a lot of agave spirits (uncertified) by the Ramoses. They just released their first in California. The stuff brought in under the ’teca label is certified and made at the ‘teca palenque; the stuff from Mal Bien is made at the Ramos palenque and is not certified.” (side note: Mal Bien uses the infamous “green tape” as the official label on their bottles - this is a nod to how people label their distillates when buying directly from the mezcalero/a)
3. StoryBus is a children’s museum on wheels that visits pre-k and kindergarten classes in Chicago’s low-income neighborhoods (link)
4. SitStayRead uses dogs to help kids learn to read. Watch the story about this Chicago nonprofit at (link)
5. Planting agave for Earth Day. SACRED sponsored two Earth Day projects in Santa Catarina Minas, Oaxaca, during which locals planted agave in the mountains surrounding the community (photo: Salvador Pulido)
6. The nursery at Telesecundaria El Manantial in Zaachila, Oaxaca, a program SACRED helps fund
7. A field of some 90 Agaves Arroqueno, purchased and transplanted to preserve the species - at least one-third of these plants will be allowed to go to seed. These are planted on Eduardo Angeles’ property in Santa Catarina Minas, Oaxaca
8. We were unable to verify the Agave species in this picture
From Lou: "Lou’s ability to identify agaves is equal to his ability to learn Spanish, but he sure thinks they’re pretty." (If anyone wants to guess please leave your comment at the bottom of the post!)
9. The landscape of Durango with Cenizo Agave and Zebras
10. Another image from Durango
11. Agave Distillates waiting to be poured at a tasting for Heritage Radio Network
12. Lou Bank leading a seminar at Tales of the Cocktail (photo: Michael Rubel)
13,14,15. These are pics Lou sent of dogs in a around the palenques he has visited
When I asked Lou if he would be starting a dog sanctuary anytime soon he replied: “I already did start a dog sanctuary - it’s called my home. The dog you see me carrying is one we brought back from Oaxaca [and] adopted out to friends. I’m a big believer in protecting animals, but I’m reluctant to put their needs before preserving the Maestro Mezcalero tradition. So, no, no sanctuary.”
These are pics of just a few of the Mezcalero/as that Lou has visited over the years:
16. Fabiola Avila (Durango) of Lagrimas de Dolores
17. Jose Ines (Michoacan) who has worked with the Brands Sin Gusano and Cinco Sentidos - Lou says he doesn’t believe Jose has a long-term relationship with any brands
18. Rodrigo Cortez (Oaxaca) - Lou says Rancho de Los Nahuales will be distributing some of Rodrigo’s spirits soon although he doesn’t believe Jose has a long-term relationship with any brands
19. Eduardo Angeles (Oaxaca) of Lalocura Mezcal
20, 22. Quiotes Lou brought back from his travels in Mexico
21. Photo taken by an O’Hare customs official just before he confiscated Lou’s quiote
+ All images courtesy of Lou Bank unless otherwise noted
Lorena Terán Ibarra is the director of Copita Project for El Buho Mezcal where she leads the regenerative agriculture and educational programs.
Initiated by the founders of El Buho, the Copita Project seeks to replenish and preserve the balance of the natural environment while planting cultivated and semi-cultivated agaves.