Mezcal tastings are a great way to bring people together, and they’re perfect for introducing new people to the world of Mezcal. In celebration of the launch of this website, we decided to have a private Mezcal tasting for 18 of our friends. Mezcal’s magic wand had already touched some of them, while others hadn’t delved much into Mezcal but were knowledgeable about scotch, and a few may have only been there because they were curious about why they hadn’t seen us over the past few months.
The tasting excited everyone, regardless of their reason for being there. We featured 15 unique Mezcal bottles grouped into 5 different flights. We also made a few additional bottles available in case anyone got adventurous and wanted to wander off the beaten path. The flights were organized into 5 categories: a wild agave flight, a farm-grown agave Espadin flight, a flight with Mezcal that came from the same town in Oaxaca, a flight with different aging styles, and a flight with Mezcals that are made using different distillation methods. Outside of the Mezcal, we had fresh fruit with sal de gusano and traditional quesos que sorprenden de Oaxaca.
We titled one of the flights “The Madre,” as all of the bottles in that flight were made with 100% agave Madre-Cuishe. This flight represented the wild side of the Mezcal world as it was the only flight that featured the same wild agave varietal. Given that we had a few people who were new to Mezcal, we selected three Madre-Cuishe Mezcals that are complex yet easily accessible. This was the order of the flight:
As expected, this was one of the more popular flights. Most, if not all, of the 18 people at the Mezcal tasting tried The Madre, and many found their favorite bottles in this flight. The Wahaka Madre-Cuishe received a lot of fanfare for being the smoothest of this group, which makes sense given its lower alcohol content. The Chango Loco was also a big favorite in this group. Its flavor was described as “earthy,” “grassy,” and “like a crisp fall day.”
I go, you go, we all go for Vago
The Vago flight was meant to demonstrate key differences in flavor and scent that can be created through variations in the distillation process. Vago Ensamble en Barro is distilled in clay, giving it a very unique, viscous mouth feel. Vago Elote has roasted corn added before the additional third distillation, and Vago Mexicano is an amazing Mezcal that is made with traditional double distillation. This was the flight:
Though the Vago Mexicano is a perennial favorite of mine, the Vago Elote was the most popular in this flight. People remarked on the notes of roasted corn as a key reason for admiring the Elote over the other Vago Mezcals. Given that all three of these bottles are well over 100 proof, the tasters who finished the flight felt much like the corn added to the Vago Elote: roasted.
The Farm Hand
The Farm Hand flight was a diverse look at what could be done with farm-grown agave Espadin. Other than the use of the same agave, these Mezcals have very little in common. This was the flight:
All three of these bottles were very popular at the Mezcal tasting. The Del Maguey Chichicapa was described as “complex,” “fruity,” and “dangerously easy to sip.” The Alipus San Andres is made by master mescalero Don Valente Angel, who is more widely known for his pricier bottles, but this Alipus offering is one of the finer Mezcals available at the $40 price point, and the spirit holds true to some of the signature notes that are tasted in the more expensive bottles made by this mezcalero. Though the Alipus received fewer notable comments, more of this bottle was consumed than any other bottle at the tasting. The results speak for themselves.
Is this Ilegal?
The naming of the “Is this Ilegal?” flight should be pretty clear. Master mezcalero Eric Hernandez at Ilegal Mezcal crafted all of the bottles in this flight. Outside of making fantastic Mezcal, Eric holds the distinction of being the first legally certified producer of Mezcal. Look on the back of the bottle to see NOM-001x. The Ilegal flight showcased different aging styles as follows:
As expected, the Reposado and Anejo were very popular among tequila drinkers. The barrel aging of these two Mezcals creates a sweet caramel finish that is easily recognizable for those who like tequila. One taster described the Anejo as “the best tequila he’d ever tasted.” Though that comment is a little off base, he had just recently finished his second helping of the Vago flight, so he was very loose with his reviews.
Down by the River
Not only does “Down by the River” conjure mental images of Neil Young singing and/or Chris Farley falling through a coffee table while lecturing teenagers, it was also the name of one of the flights that we had that evening. The idea behind this flight was that we wanted to have three Mezcals from the same town. With lots of towns to choose from, we decided on San Luis del Rio. The official flight looked like this:
We substituted in Marca Negra Espadin on the fly as the Del Maguey Crema de Mezcal was a bit too sweet for most palates. In the end, the Nuestra Soledad was the favorite from this flight. With so many amazing Mezcals made in San Luis, it’s hard to drill this down to just a few. The Alipus also received some good reviews. One taster said “the Crema de Mezcal is better left for deserts and mixed drinks.”
In the end, the big standouts from the night were Del Maguey Chichicapa, Chango Loco Juan, Ilegal Anejo, and the Vago Elote. We started the Mezcal tasting at 8pm, and most participants tasted all of the flights. The last people left around 3am, but not before we’d dipped into some of the more vivacious bottles in the collection: Tosba Pechuga, El Jolgorio Tobala, Bruxo 5 Tobala, and Gracias a Dios Tepextate. We all had much more Mezcal than expected, but it was all in good taste (pun intended). We’re currently working on putting together a public Mezcal tasting in Austin for later this fall. Stay tuned for more details.