Rum Connoisseur interview of the week:
Owner of Mezcal Vago and Peranubes Rum!
1) Who is Judah Kuper?
Judah Kuper fell in love with his nurse while getting treated for a surfing injury on an island in rural Oaxaca. He married into a family who has been producing Mezcal for as many generations as they can remember. Together they started Mezcal Vago and have worked to grow the category worldwide. His passion project for the last few years has been to hunt down and bring to the world Oaxacan agricole style rum.
2) What made you fall in love with rum and when did it happen?
When I started importing our mezcal to the US, I was very fortunate to land some distribution partners who are incredibly knowledgeable and passionate. I wanted to learn everything I could and I was naturally drawn to clear spirits because of the sense of place I got from what I was drinking. John Garrett in Texas turned me onto Rhum Agricole and it just blew me away. I loved the grassy, herbaceous nose and flavor. I felt like I was tasting Martinique.
3) The biggest achievement you personally feel you have accomplished for the rum industry.
My hope is to bring a level of transparency and authenticity that is helpful to the industry and a rum that really adds to the conversation.
4) What is that thing that makes you want to continue in the rum industry?
To support these producers that aren’t yet known or appreciated. I believe there is a real opportunity to create a niche microeconomy in this area of Oaxaca fueled by the hard work of some people who deserve it and could use it. Also, daiquiris.
5) Favorite Drink + Recipe
For our rum, a daiquiri can’t be beat. I am our biggest fan and i’m highly addicted to these. I love the balanced simplicity and the way the nose of the spirit roles across the citrus.
6) Where do you see the rum industry today and in the next 5 years?
To be honest I am so new to this. I come from a different angle, looking from the culture out as opposed to from the business side in so I don’t want to get ahead of myself. We do have an incredible distributor in Italy called Velier which is managed by Luca Gargano. It seems like the rum conversation there, pushed in large part by Luca’s passion and expertise, has gone in a really unique direction. Those Clairin he brings into Europe from Haiti that are wild fermented and pot distilled are incredible. I love tasting things that close to the source. I imagine and hope we will see more stuff like that in the US soon!
7) Share some of your mentors and how they have helped you.
My number one mentor is David Suro. His never ending passion and energy for life is inspiring. It is such a relief to know people who spend their time considering how to improve the lives of the people around them. He makes it look easy.
Someone I look up to but haven’t had the opportunity to meet is Yvon Chouinard for his ethical and successful approach to business.
These two men really show that this world is what you make of it and with a few more like them we the humans could really get somewhere.
8) What 3-5 things do you have on your bucket list for the next 12 month?
To spend as much time with my daughter as possible
High five my Danish friends over a meal and a daiquiri in Copenhagen.
9) Any last words?
Humphrey Bogart’s last words were “I should never have switched from scotch to martinis.”
10) How can people learn more about you? Website? Social Media Page?