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by Greg Rutkowski


Agave Spirits Institute - Agave Spirits Class Review

by Greg Rutkowski

September 2022 Level 4 Agave Spirits Institute Graduating Class

by Greg Rutkowski

"The first & only accredited agave spirits sommelier program. Dedicated to study and stewardship of agave."

There is a new kind of school in the agave spirits industry that offers something more than your run of the mill palenque tour. The school is called the Agave Spirits Institute (or ASI) and they have recently been accredited by the Universidad Anáhuac Querétaro which gives this agave education project something to take seriously. 

If you are a bartender, restaurant owner, in the hospitality industry, or an agave spirits aficionado with a love for education then please read on because this is for you. In this article you will find out everything that you need to know about ASI.

Agave Spirits Institute Class

What Is The Agave Spirits Institute?

ASI was started by in 2021 Daniel Rodriguez who is a certified wine sommelier through CMS and IWSG. With Daniel's knowledge of the wine industry in combination with his Mexican heritage, he recognized that the agave spirits world did not have much in the way of formal education and the idea for the Agave Spirits Institute was born.

Daniel himself along with; an academic spirits advisor, a microbiology professor, a gastronomy professor, art professor, Oaxaca history professor, a chemical engineer, reforestation professor, and mixology professor have created five amazing courses to help you understand the depths and impacts of the agave spirits world.

Learn more about the Agave Spirits Institute.

Daniel Rodrigues Agave Spirits Institute

Daniel Rodrigues Agave Spirits Institute

The Need For Formal Education In The Agave Spirits Industry

Misinformation And Inaccessible Information In The Agave Spirits Industry 

There is a lot of wrong or misleading information being passed around online, on social media, from distributors, brands, and bartenders alike. Most of the time, the information is not intentionally wrong or with malicious intent. This happens because the correct information can be hard to obtain. Much of it needs to be translated from Spanish and it is not typically something readily available online. Most businesses do not like giving away their knowledgebase as well. 

Mexican Spirits Exports - A Big Market Rapidly Growing

The agave spirits category is rapidly growing. According to Statista, 339.4 million liters of Tequila alone were exported from Mexico in 2021 and 4.8 million liters of Mezcal in 2020. With even larger future projections.

Placements in liquor stores, niche bars / restaurants, aficionado gatherings, trade shows, and other events are natural collateral of a booming business. We see the amount of people talking and teaching about agave continually growing.

Serving The Local Community

Mexico has been attracting a lot of Tequila and Mezcal tourism from aficionados seeking a more authentic experience than what you would get on on a typical Cancun trip. Many of the same people are also looking to purchase bottles direct from the source and bottles that they cannot buy in their home country.

As this type of experiential tourism develops all over Mexico, hotels restaurants, and boutique liquor stores seek to provide a better service and attract this specific client to their destination. 

Serving Industry Professionals

From agave grower to agave spirits brand owner, the more education for the owner and their employees creates better business opportunities and advantages than one with less knowledge. Making this hard-to-find information available can help businesses make better decisions and it creates a sense of community with a sharing platform for even better education. 

A Better Bar Service

Mezcal is often compared to wine because of the many nuances, variables, and the infinite amount of flavors. For the same reason wine sommeliers exist, this educational agave concept was born.

Mezcal and Tequila menus are often expansive, but only list the name of the spirit and the price. This could give a potentially customer anxiety making them default to something that they already know.

In today's world, an Agave Sommelier or Master of Agave Spirits can swoop in and help an indecisive customer with excellent service. This helps make the customer happy as well as increase the revenue for all stakeholders.

Agave Spirits Institute Trade Show

What Kind Of Classes Does The Agave Spirits Institute Offer?

Agave Spirits Introductory Course- Agave Spirits Institute

Introductory Class

Price: $150 USD

The Introductory Class was designed as a low barrier to entry class for the person who may be on the fence about committing to Level 1 and beyond.

The purpose of the class is intended to "open your window into the vast and diverse world of agave spirits." Here you will hone in on the basics of how to taste agave spirits and try out six different types of Mexican spirits.

Course Includes:

2.5 Hours of Live Online Instruction

Six Vials of Artisanal and Ancestral Agave Spirits

Introductory Course Booklet

Six Organoleptic Tasting Guides

Introductory Course Syllabus

1. Agave history, etymology, and diversity

2. Mezcal Denomination of Origin

3. Bacanora Denomination of Origin

4. Raicilla Denomination of Origin

5. Tuxca

6. Sotol Denomination of Origin

7. Comiteco Denomination of Origin

8. Tasting Techniques and Professional Analysis

This is a great way to get your feet wet and see what the Agave Spirits Institute is all about if your are interested in the world of agave spirits education.

Agave Spirits Institute Courses

Level 1: Certified Mezcal Specialist Course

Price: $490 USD

The Level 1 Course is focused on developing your sensory analysis, or more formally called organoleptic analysis. This type of analysis uses experimental and statistical elements using human senses for the purpose of evaluating agave spirits.

"Scientific and sensory studies on the production of various alcoholic beverages, discovered that the sugar in mezcal is polysaccharide, which means that its chemical composition is easier for our body to disintegrate and eliminate."

-Illinois Institute of Technology


8 Hours of Live Online or In-Person Instruction

14 Vials of Mezcal for Evaluation

Level 1 Course Booklet

14 Organoleptic Tasting Guides


1. Agave history, etymology, and diversity

2. Mezcal Denomination of Origin (D.O), categories, and styles

3. History of Tequila

4. States with Mezcal Denominations of Origin 

5. Organoleptic tasting of all Mezcal D.O. styles


Mezcal Specialist Certificate

ASI’s Level 1 Pin

With this type of education, you can be selected to be a tasting panel member, help brands assess their agave spirits, and be a Mezcal reviewer with some authority. 

Level 2 Mezcal Sommelier Pin

Level 2: Certified Mezcal Sommelier

Price: $490 USD

After you have successfully completed the Level 1: Certified Mezcal Specialist course, you will be able to embark on a journey of understanding Oaxaca's native agaves in the Level 2 Course. From there you will learn about how these native agaves tie into and impact mezcal production in Oaxaca. From there you will learn about serving agave sprits in fine restaurants and urban environments. 

8 Hours of Live Online or In-Person Instruction
14 Vials of Mezcal for Evaluation
Level 1 Course Booklet
14 Organoleptic Tasting Guides


1. History of Oaxaca
2. Wild Agaves in Oaxaca
3. Regions of Oaxaca Mezcal Production
4. Biodiversity and Reforestation
5. Organoleptic Analysis of 14 Spirits
6. Ancestral science
7. Sustainability


Mezcal Sommelier Certificate
ASI’s Level 2 Pin

As you obtain a more complete understanding of the environmental impacts of agave spirits, you are now officially a Mezcal Sommelier. 

Agave Sommelier Training - Agave Spirits Institute

Level 3: Certified Agave Spirits Advisor

Price: $750 USD

Once you have completed your Level 2: Certified Mezcal Sommelier class you are now ready for a new journey with Level 3. On this journey you will learn about diversity in relation to agave spirits from Mexico and all around that world. 

16 Hours of Live Online or In-Person Instruction
28 Vials of Agave Spirits for Evaluation
Level 3 Course Booklet
28 Organoleptic Tasting Guides

1. Agave Spirits in Mexico: Bacanora, Raicilla, Comiteco, Sotol, Tuxca, and Tequila
2. Agave Distillates from Around the World: Venezuela, Ecuador, Peru, USA, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand and India
3. Advanced study of Agaves Worldwide
4. History of Distillation
5. Regional Focus on Tamaulipas, Michoacan, Guerrero and Yucatan

Agave Spirits Advisor Certificate
ASI’s Level 3 Pin

Just when you thought you knew everything, your entire world of agave spirits opens up where you will be able to taste spirits made with agave from around the world. 

Level 4: Certified Master Of Agave Spirits

Price: $3,300 USD

For Level 4 you will need to travel to Oaxaca as the class is on-site. For one entire week, you will be getting a hands-on understanding and a deeper understanding of mezcal and mezcal production. This class is not only for education but as serves as a one of a kind agave spirits experience. 

"This week our students begin their adventure with us here in Oaxaca, as part of ASI Level 4: Master of Agave Spirits. They will be diving feet first into 6 days of palenque visits, seminars, distilling, planting, blind tastings and demonstrations with experts in the industry. Follow their amazing journey here and in our stories."


  • 6 Days of Instruction in Oaxaca
  • Private Transportation to Course Sites
  • All Meals During Course Times 
  • Visits to 3 Mezcal Production Areas 
  • Seminars in Microbiology, History, Gastronomy, Chemistry, and Service 
  • Cocktail Workshop 
  • Visit to Monte Alban

9 Professors


Master of Agave Spirits Certificate

ASI’s Master of Agave Spirits Pin

Graduation Ceremony upon completion of a theoretical and practical examination.

After completing this course, you will feel as happy as if you graduated high school. What big adventures await? Will you help consult brands? Help restaurant owners choose what mezcals to bring on the menu? Provide exclusive tastings for hotels? No matter what you choose to pursue after your graduation, one thing is certain. You will be introduced to people in the industry, make friends with people that have skin in the game, and belong to an elite club that only a handful of people have belonged to. 

When And How Are ASI Classes Held?

The introductory class to Level 3 are held online and in-person. the higher level you get, the less often the courses are held. Classes can be held multiple times a month to once per month.

The Level 4 class is held in Oaxaca and special arrangements need to be made in relation to scheduling.

Schedule a class now. 

Agave Spirits Institute Reviews

"Daniel possesses a rich knowledge of the Mezcal world, it is evident he is passionate about sharing historic and cultural insights regarding one of the most intriguing spirits in the world. Cheers!" ~ Andrea Ptacnik

"I'm opening a Mezcal & Tequila Bar and have a fondness for being the Queen of whatever I do, so I was thrilled to find Agave Spirits Institute and beyond thrilled to find the line of Sommelier courses. I've been drinking agave for many years and love to learn but this is a whole different depth of the pool. I'm about to finish the final course, Level 4, in Oaxaca with Daniel and his fantastic cadre of instructors: wine sommeliers, a liquor industry expert, a microbiologist, a chemist, a history professor, Oaxacan gastronomy guide, and a few others I haven't met yet. It's so much cooler and more informative than I could have imagined. Daniel is personal and relatable, and extremely knowledgeable. He has depths of experience that make you want to just sit and listen to him talk about agaves - with a copita de Mezcal, of course." ~ Victoria

"As a Mezcal enthusiast, and content producer I wanted to take my
understanding of mezcal and agave spirits to the next level. The Agave
Spirits Institute was a no brainer for me, furthermore it completely
exceeded my expectations. The level of professionalism from the
instructors, substantial information, the real world examples and
experience they bring to the table are mind-blowing.

"Everything I've learned in the program has 100% propelled me further into
the wonderful world of agave spirits, and the ASI certifications have
provided credibility to the work that I do. I absolutely recommend this
program to professionals and enthusiast alike!" ~ Marco Antonio

"I started my Mezcal experience in 2016 when I didn’t know much about this nectar of gods, as I lovingly refer to it, and good stuff was so hard to find!
Now years later, finding this course has led to much more exploration and tastings and discovery. The depth and detail that each course unfolds into has been such a pleasant experience especially when you realize it’s an international agave experience!
If you’re a connoisseur you’ll enjoy learning and engaging, if you’re not, learning and engaging and meeting others with the same passion as you is pure delight! You realize you’re not alone on this gorgeous planet of ours!
I highly recommend that you gift yourself with this experience if you’re into agave spirits. The integrity and the conversations are bar none." Akari

Photos From Agave Spirits Institute Classes

September 2022 Level 4 Agave Spirits Institute Graduating Class

September 2022 Level 4 Agave Spirits Institute Graduating Class

Microbiology Lesson Agave Spirits Institute

Microbiology Lesson - Agave Spirits Institute

Master Of Agave Spirits Diploma - Agave Spirits Institute

Master Of Agave Spirits Diploma - Agave Spirits Institute

Level 4 Craft Cocktail Lesson - Agave Spirits Institute

Level 4 Craft Cocktail Lesson - Agave Spirits Institute

Level 4 Master Of Agave Spirits Class Materials

Level 4 Master Of Agave Spirits Class Materials

In Person Class In Session For Masters of Agave Spirits

In Person Class In Session For Masters of Agave Spirits

Level 3 Class Online - Agave Spirits Institute

Level 3 Class Online - Agave Spirits Institute

Agave Spirits Institute Graduation Pins

Agave Spirits Institute Graduation Pins

A Note From The Editor On The Agave Spirits Institute

When I first heard about the ASI I got excited. As a lover of education, I needed to discover what ASI had to offer. After reaching out and speaking directly with the founder Daniel, he earned my confidence in his agave spirit school. From there, I purchased his products at full price and eagerly awaited taking my classes.
All of my class materials were shipped to me in a timely manner before my scheduled classes. I was very pleased about the packaging and presentation of my class materials. Everything was done very professional and I am happy for it.
Since being a student of Daniel's, we have become friends. I help him with some of his marketing and promote him whenever. I truly believe in this project and Daniel as well as think that it is a very positive addition for the industry.

This post is meant to be an informative post about the Agave Spirits Institute, but I am so passionate about the project that I feel compelled to promote it as well.

If you end up buying a class through this website, we will receive a small commission for our efforts which helps us keep the lights on as well. 

I trust that you will have the same loving experience as I did when you take the class. You will be in great hands.

Greg Rutkowski, President

Greg Rutkowski Mezcal For Life
Greg is a lover of agave spirits, handicrafts, and barware. In 2020 he married all of his loves and created a business bringing amazing pieces from all over Mexico to the United States. Learn more here


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