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Mal Bien Alto

Mal Bien Alto is the brand's first release produced by Don Isidro Rodriguez Montoya in Rio de Parras, Michoacán.

Rating: (26 reviews)
Category:Destilado de Agave
Cost:$$$
Brand:Agave Mixtape, Mal Bien
Mezcalero:Isidro Rodriguez Montoya
Maguey:Alto
Agave:Inaequidens
Grind:Hand
Style:Joven
State:Michoacán
Town:Rio de Parras
ABV: 46.58%
Batch size: 1019IRM: 266 bottles
Website: https://www.mezcalmalbien.com/, opens in new window

About this destilado de agave

Mal Bien Alto is produced by Don Isidro Rodriguez Montoya in Rio de Parras, Michoacán. Don Isidro’s Alto defies a lot of stereotypes of mezcal from Michoacán, specifically its clean, mineral-driven character, and lack of funky lactic notes. Isidro avoids the cheesy notes by creating relatively fast fermentations. Some producers in the region will ferment for 30+ days, while Isidro ferments for just 8-10 days. He achieves this by adding a couple liters of pulque to every thousand liters of mashed agave. Don Isidro is a first generation Mezcalero who didn’t take up the craft of distilling agave until he was 19 years old. After sharing the communal vinata for 14 years, he built his own vinata in 2015, where he currently distills all his agave.

This Mal Bien Alto was released both as an independent bottle and as part of Agave Mixtape Volume 3.

Agave Mixtape

Agave Mixtape brings the best agave spirits together in one place – your place. Agave Mixtape is a subscription based service. Subscribers receive boxes with three 200ml bottles from three different brands – Lalocura, Mal Bien, and Neta (and maybe a few surprises) – filled with batches picked especially for Agave Mixtape, and not available anywhere else in the USA. Each box includes production notes on the batches, along with links to photos, and virtual tastings with the people behind the brands and the mezcaleros. You can subscribe directly from their website.

Mal Bien

Since 2016, the Mal Bien team has been traveling Mexico, driving off the map and into mountains filled with treacherous roads, police officers of questionable moral character, feral dogs, indigenous languages, narcos, ancient relics, machete wielding protestors, insect based meals, mudslides, blockades, corrupt politicians, and many of the world’s kindest, funniest, most brilliant people. In addition to some hard to believe stories, they’ve connected with a wide variety of traditional producers, whose mezcal is now bottled and exported under the Mal Bien name.

Member rating

4.25 out of 5

26 reviews

les_

les_

31 reviews
Rated 4 out of 5 stars1 month ago

peach, watermelon, cherry, yogurt, ginger, cream, grapefruit, lime, peppercorn, brine, lemon balm, char, lemongrass, honeydew
1223IRM, 46%

Ben P

Ben P

114 reviews
Rated 4 out of 5 stars4 months ago

Batch 1221 IRM ABV 46

Nose: watermelon juice, limes, underlying leather like hot car seats, but so much watermelon

Palate: watermelon on the front, limes, lemon sour patch kid, I always think of lemonade moving into the finish with this. Finish is lemon lime, slightly herbal and leathery to dry, the herbal to me is lemongrass and sage.

This isn’t crazy complex but that’s what makes it so damn crushable. I always forget how much melon I get on this…then I pour it. This Alto to me is a cabinet staple.

Batch 1221 IRM ABV 46
Nose: watermelon juice, limes, underlying leather like hot car seats, but so much watermelon
Palate: watermelon on the front, limes, lemon sour patch kid, I always think of lemonade moving into the finish with this. Finish is lemon lime, slightly herbal and leathery to dry, the herbal to me is lemongrass and sage.
This isn’t crazy complex but that’s what makes it so damn crushable. I always forget how much melon I get on this…then I pour it. This Alto to me is a c

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Imperium

Imperium

99 reviews
Rated 3.5 out of 5 stars1 year ago

Nose is mineral and fruity, the watermelon jolly ranchers is a perfect comparison.
Palate is lactic funk with juicy fruit gum, watermelon rind, veggies and pine.

jackstraw

jackstraw

35 reviews
Rated 5 out of 5 stars1 year ago

batch: 1221IRM
bottle: 46/1333; dec. 2021
abv: 46%

shimmering blue and green with a punch of pink and red

review #4

Bagaso

Bagaso

8 reviews
Rated 4.5 out of 5 stars1 year ago

Batch 1221IRM
This was my first Alto – what a departure from the familiar. Watermelon jolly rancher punches through strong. Light and floral on the nose with a bit of a bite. Very refreshing and unique.

Batch 0423IRM
Don Isidro continues to deliver with the latest batch. Slightly less watermelon jolly rancher vibes than memory serves but still such a clean mouth feel / lactic / cheese free. I am reviewing after a puntas session so the abv was no longer noticeable at all allowing for a unique pure flavor experience.

Batch 1221IRM
This was my first Alto – what a departure from the familiar. Watermelon jolly rancher punches through strong. Light and floral on the nose with a bit of a bite. Very refreshing and unique.
Batch 0423IRM
Don Isidro continues to deliver with the latest batch. Slightly less watermelon jolly rancher vibes than memory serves but still such a clean mouth feel / lactic / cheese free. I am reviewing after a puntas session so the abv was no longer noticeable at all allowing for a uniq

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Forpowder

Forpowder

87 reviews
Rated 5 out of 5 stars1 year ago

Lot 1221 RM 46.0% Aroma is out of the bottle or cantaloupe watermelon and something green no smoke. Flavors follow with watermelon, watermelon rind, cantaloupe, cucumbers and wet cardboard predominantly this is a very unique mezcal unlike anything else I’ve ever had. This Alto is just great an everyday drinker. Cannot belive the fresh fruit flavors in this one. Over time I reach for this one over all else, so smooth and easy the fruit is outrageius. reviewed again on 8 2023 batch 1221 132M still one of my favorites. 11 2023 batch 1221 1RM Still so fresh The aroma is just like green jolly, ranchers and Agave amazing. Best cucumber water ever. Batch 1221 172M tasted 1/15 2024. That’s fruity and clean as always but this one tastes more mineral like to me. Slate and wet rock. 1/29/2024 lot 1221 1RM 46% Similar but soft maybe some age? 3/10/2024 1221 1RM SO Smooth clean watermelon all the way

Lot 1221 RM 46.0% Aroma is out of the bottle or cantaloupe watermelon and something green no smoke. Flavors follow with watermelon, watermelon rind, cantaloupe, cucumbers and wet cardboard predominantly this is a very unique mezcal unlike anything else I’ve ever had. This Alto is just great an everyday drinker. Cannot belive the fresh fruit flavors in this one. Over time I reach for this one over all else, so smooth and easy the fruit is outrageius. reviewed again on 8 2023 batch 1221 132M

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JDB

JDB

167 reviews
Rated 4.5 out of 5 stars1 year ago

Batch #0521RM 46% abv
Love these altos, such great flavors from the inaequidens agave. This Mall Bien offering is both very tasty and pretty affordable at round $70. I picked up mine at Tahona Mercado). Lots of pine and juniper on the nose with a background of lactic action (Greek Yogurt). The flavors are a splash of green melon or watermelon rind, Wrigley’s gum, guava, and a background tartness that is complimented by the sweet flavors of fruit. There is a undertone of minerality as well, could be that limestone fermentation or the water source. Also, a mild black pepper heat, and a drying quality to the spirit on the finish. Really appreciate the range of flavors that others note in their reviews (cucumber, tennis ball, dry erase marker) I think it does matter the longer you expose your pour to oxygen and the journey as you finish a bottle. Mine is about ready to be replaced, looking forward!

Batch #0521RM 46% abv
Love these altos, such great flavors from the inaequidens agave. This Mall Bien offering is both very tasty and pretty affordable at round $70. I picked up mine at Tahona Mercado). Lots of pine and juniper on the nose with a background of lactic action (Greek Yogurt). The flavors are a splash of green melon or watermelon rind, Wrigley’s gum, guava, and a background tartness that is complimented by the sweet flavors of fruit. There is a undertone of minerality

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Canal Ponds(Jeff)

Canal Ponds(Jeff)

5 reviews
Rated 5 out of 5 stars1 year ago

Isidro Rodriguez Batch 0521/RM
Drinking this at the start of fall all of these notes hit so well with the season. Fresh Crispin apples while hiking through the woods. All of the standard notes in the best mezcal are present, but if you wanted a one liner to make the decision for you, there you go. I keep a bottle at home always.

little_agave

little_agave

34 reviews
Rated 4 out of 5 stars2 years ago

Aroma:
Palate: fresh, green, melon
Batch: Tasting event. Didn’t get batch

BKbobby

BKbobby

6 reviews
Rated 4.5 out of 5 stars2 years ago

Mouthwatering in such a strange and wonderful way. It tastes like I’m drinking it inside of a greenhouse – somehow my mouth feels humid. It reminds me of fresh cut, green wood, moss, melons and cucumbers. So fun and different from other mezcales I’ve had from Michoacan. I return to this one again and again.

Ranger_Ryan

Ranger_Ryan

45 reviews
Rated 5 out of 5 stars2 years ago

Lot 0120IRM
44.2% Abv
Wow! So this is what the hype is all about?? This is what people talk about when they speak of the mysterious flavors that can be coaxed out of the agave? Well, then I’m on board. Melon, cantaloupe, watermelon, a little hot and a little sweetness. And then the backend hits you with a tongue tingling minerality, like it’s almost carbonated. Wild stuff.

thomaselliott

thomaselliott

14 reviews
Rated 4.5 out of 5 stars2 years ago

Lot: 03/20 IRM
First smells are from fresh out of the garden green peppers with a sweet herbaceous nose.
Tasing this the first time, you get those fresh green peppers, but it comes with a lactic/cheesiness. Definitely a lot of funk adjacent to the fresh peppers with a certain sweetness that makes for a wonderfully complex distillate. I’ve now finished this bottle and it’s always an entertaining sip. Michoacán has been constantly surprising me. Maybe I’ve been lucky but every time I’ve had a Michoacán Mezcal, it feels like they are saying to Oaxacan Palenques “hold my copita” and then doing something differently enough that it’s underscoring the art of this process.

Lot: 03/20 IRM
First smells are from fresh out of the garden green peppers with a sweet herbaceous nose.
Tasing this the first time, you get those fresh green peppers, but it comes with a lactic/cheesiness. Definitely a lot of funk adjacent to the fresh peppers with a certain sweetness that makes for a wonderfully complex distillate. I’ve now finished this bottle and it’s always an entertaining sip. Michoacán has been constantly surprising me. Maybe I’ve been lucky but ever

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meserole

meserole

73 reviews
Rated 3 out of 5 stars3 years ago

Super sharp on the nose – spicy floral alcohol.
A bit of sharpies and dull white sugar, maybe a bit of citrus pith on the mouth. It’s certainly not a super mainstream mezcal, but the ways in which this are complex don’t appeal to me at all. Too hot and astringent.

Tyler

Tyler

647 reviews
Rated 4 out of 5 stars3 years ago

Lot 1019IRM, October 2019. This one has received a lot of well-deserved praise. I think it was the first non-Oaxaca release from Mal Bien and what a great pick! An earlier review mentioned watermelon and I’m totally getting watermelon Jolly Ranchers in this mezcal. I wonder if the pulque influences the flavor or not? It is a pretty “clean” tasting mezcal with big fruit notes and some minerality. The finish is spiced spearmint. 4.5 stars.

Agave Mixtape vol. 3 (Batch 1119IRM, Nov. 2019) has that cheese funk note which isn’t present in the prior batch. For me, it is really good but doesn’t have the same level of complexity as the October 2019 production. 3.5 stars.

Lot 1019IRM, October 2019. This one has received a lot of well-deserved praise. I think it was the first non-Oaxaca release from Mal Bien and what a great pick! An earlier review mentioned watermelon and I’m totally getting watermelon Jolly Ranchers in this mezcal. I wonder if the pulque influences the flavor or not? It is a pretty “clean” tasting mezcal with big fruit notes and some minerality. The finish is spiced spearmint. 4.5 stars.
Agave Mixtape vol. 3 (Batch 1119IRM, Nov

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James Christian

James Christian

46 reviews
Rated 4 out of 5 stars3 years ago

Review Edit with new batch! (Leaving the previous one there as I did NOT like it back then)

Batch 0120IRM
Agave Inaquidens
Proof 46%
Mezcalero: Isidro Rodriiguez

Nose: Very similar to the Quiote version. Lime, cucumber, jolly rancher for sure.
Flavors – a tame version of the Quiote. Citrus but less watermelon. Agree with JDB… Juniper! This is a very botanical forward mezcal… gin lovers will be fans for sure.
—————–
2020 review. Batch unknown. 3 stars
Nose: Lots of perfume, but like an old grammas perfume mixed with freshly applied SprayNet and mothballs.
Mouth and taste: it went way up to the top of my palate with this intense heat. That’s where the hairspray stayed.- Then it settles down a bit – but I did not like this one. Maybe I was scarred as a kid with too many old ladies in church grabbing my cheeks and offering me cheap shitty gum from their SprayNet covered purses.

Review Edit with new batch! (Leaving the previous one there as I did NOT like it back then)
Batch 0120IRM
Agave Inaquidens
Proof 46%
Mezcalero: Isidro Rodriiguez
Nose: Very similar to the Quiote version. Lime, cucumber, jolly rancher for sure.
Flavors – a tame version of the Quiote. Citrus but less watermelon. Agree with JDB… Juniper! This is a very botanical forward mezcal… gin lovers will be fans for sure.
—————–
2020 review. Batch unknown. 3 stars

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Azi

Azi

40 reviews
Rated 4 out of 5 stars3 years ago

Woah! totally different than what I’ve has so far.
Nose: watermelon rind, distant warm spices (clove, cardamom), new car, dry erase marker (just tested that one with a green expo! lol). maybe some wet stone (get that a lot w mezcal so it could just be me). teeniest bit of a wood fire
Mouth: cucumber (especially those tiny ones that look like small watermelons), turmeric, underripe banana. vanilla; in a sweet way that reminds me of what oak does for bourbon.

This one is from a tasting pack via Drammers, from Batch 1019IRM

Woah! totally different than what I’ve has so far.
Nose: watermelon rind, distant warm spices (clove, cardamom), new car, dry erase marker (just tested that one with a green expo! lol). maybe some wet stone (get that a lot w mezcal so it could just be me). teeniest bit of a wood fire
Mouth: cucumber (especially those tiny ones that look like small watermelons), turmeric, underripe banana. vanilla; in a sweet way that reminds me of what oak does for bourbon.
This one is from a tasting pack

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t8ke

t8ke

144 reviews
Rated 4 out of 5 stars3 years ago

Clean, fresh. Cucumber water, hibiscus, pepper, fresh pepper and onion, zesty lime and a bright pop of sweetness. Lovely. Faint ash on the back palate. This is lovely, so diverse, all over the place. It reminds me of some of my favorite Tep’s.

El-Dawg

El-Dawg

214 reviews
Rated 3.5 out of 5 stars3 years ago

200ml from Agave Mixtape.
Unique and appealing smell. Melon, cream, vanilla. Some lemon. Taste to me is tad astringent, fabric softer. Overall tasted seemed to go down the longer I had it open. First Alto agave.
2023 – 12211RM. Tried different batch. Very similar notes to older batch. Dryer sheets. Apple bitter sweetness. I’d probably keep rating the same.
Review #78

Zack Klamn

Zack Klamn

542 reviews
Rated 4.5 out of 5 stars3 years ago

Nose: Wet soil. Sweet berries. Raw asparagus.

Palate: Earthy! Icing sugar. Peppermint ice cream. Hint of cheesy funk. Cigar tobacco finish with a nice, warm heat. Salty, mineral aftertaste along with the quality smoke.

I love this 200 mL – it’s super unique! I would definitely pony up for a full bottle for the repertoire!

GreenspointTexas

GreenspointTexas

385 reviews
Rated 4 out of 5 stars3 years ago

4.25/5

Imagine a dry, hot, summer day. Hot wind stirs up dust. Sweat beading on your brow. You scan the horizon for a place to take refuge. All you see is orange hued sepia and dead grass. Suddenly, an oasis appears with all the crystal clear water you can stomach; served to you in glass carafes by toga laden supermodels. Is this real or a dream?

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