Shirley Leigh-Wood Oakes, partner and CEO of Mezcal Campante on traditional spirits and being a business woman


True mezcal, much like tequila and champagne, only comes from designated areas around the globe.

When it comes to traditional mezcal, it must derive from one of the nine designated states in Mexico: Durango, Guerrero, Guanajuato, Michoacán, Oaxaca, Puebla, San Luís Potosí, Tamaulipas and Zacatecas. And while both spirit types are made from agave, there is a distinctness in the aroma that any spirit connoisseur could spot immediately upon breathing in.

The process for fermenting and distilling mezcal is unique from that of tequila. Mezcal is roasted and an ensemble of wood-like smoky flavors are lucid upon smell and taste. Sometimes, depending on the brand or the distilling process, the roasted agave flavor may even be overpowering to some.


However, mixologists typically undercut the notes of smoke with sweet and earthy flavors like pineapple, oranges or berries such as strawberries and blackberries.

In recent years, consumers have become increasingly interested in mezcal.

In 2012, around 770,000 liters of mezcal were imported from Mexico worldwide, according to Statista. In 2022, among nearly 400 traditional mezcal brands, 8.54 million liters of mezcal were imported from Mexico, a 1009% increase in imports.

“We talk a lot about how it takes the heart of the mezcalero and the heart of the agave, the piña, to make mezcal,” Shirley Leigh-Wood Oakes, partner and CEO of Mezcal Campante, told FOX Business. “When making mezcal, especially artisanal mezcal, it really is a craft product. It’s made by hand.”

Mezcal Campante, founded in 2019, is a premium, small-batch mezcal forged in Oaxaca, a city in Mexico. Oakes says considerable craftsmanship and expertise go into making the product and Campante’s mezcalero is fourth generation.

“There’s a huge amount of heritage,” she said.


And while the 400-year-old tradition of artisanal mezcal making is embodied in the product, Oakes and team took a modern approach to the branding, while still offering a human element to consumers.

How Mezcal Campante got its name

“The word campante really resonated with us,” she said. “It’s a word that’s used to describe someone. It means to be happy, unconcerned, content. And to be happy and unconcerned is a wonderful place to be.”

And the world is clearly thirsty for an uninterrupted experience with mezcal.

Oakes is celebratory of her place in the mezcal industry and recommends more women be honest while identifying weaknesses and shortcomings in their own entrepreneurial journeys.

“If you identify them, then you can address them,” she said. “Figure out what you’re not good at and then go and hire the right people to support you in that area. You will thank yourself for that, because it will take such a weight off your shoulders. And as an entrepreneur, or a founder, you really need to be focusing on the key things that are gonna make this successful.”

She also recommends asking for help and seeking mentorship with professionals who will challenge you.

“We as women, I think, often want to be able to do everything, we want to be super women,” Oakes said. “We can’t do it all ourselves.” 

Recipe for Campante Spritz by Mezcal Campante:

Ingredients for Campante Spritz:

  • 1 ounce Mezcal Campante
  • 1 ounce Aperol
  • 1 ounce fresh grapefruit juice
  • 0.30 ounce agave syrup
  • 3 ounce soda water
  • For garnish: lemon leaf

Recipe for Camante Spritz:

  • Combine ingredients (except soda) in a glass, preferably a wine glass
  • Fill the glass with ice and stir quickly
  • Top with soda water and garnish with a lemon leaf

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