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Mal Bien Espadin – Antonio Sonido

Mal Bien Espadin from Antonio Sonido was originally released in the US as part of Agave Mixtape Vol 5.

Rating: (1 review)
Category:Destilado de Agave
Brand:Agave Mixtape, Mal Bien Mezcal
Mezcalero:Antonio Sonido
ABV: 47%
Release year: 2021
Website: https://www.mezcalmalbien.com/, opens in new window
About this destilado de agave

Mal Bien Espadin from Antonio Sonido was originally released in the US as part of Agave Mixtape Vol 5. Per Agave Mixtape:

Like some kind of new particle discovered by physicists, Don Antonio’s espadín wasn’t just an interesting new destilado for us to enjoy, but one that made us rethink some of our most basic ideas about espadín as a varietal.

Around the world, most people familiar with mezcal and agave spirits are mainly drinking spirits produced in Oaxaca, so it’s no surprise that most think of espadín (A. angustifolia Haw.) as the most widely available and least expensive varietal. In 2021 Oaxaca, espadín is most definitely both of those. And while this batch is many things – savory, sweet, spiced, rich – it’s most definitely not from Oaxaca.

Don Antonio recalls first encountering espadín in Chilapa de Álvarez in 2008. Unlike papalote (A. cupreata) and zacatoro (a local variant of A. angustifolia) which have been in the region since time immemorial, the espadín seeds or hijuelos had been imported from other states. Adding to the expense, espadín plants prefer to grow on prime, flat land normally reserved for milpa crops as opposed to papalote and zacatoro which do best on hillside plots that don’t work well for corn, beans or squash. While local mezcaleros were impressed by the tales of espadín’s large size, high sugar content, and prolific cloning, the upfront costs were higher than most of Don Antonio’s neighbors were willing to invest, and so espadín developed a reputation as a “luxury” agave.

Generating 20-30 hijuelos de raiz (clones) during their 8-12 year lifespan, it’s certainly possible that the varietal will one day become as common in Guerrero as it is in many other parts of Mexico, however; with less than two generations so far, the species’ overall numbers are still nowhere close to that of papalote. Don Antonio estimates there are a few thousand espadines throughout the region, compared with many millions of papalotes.

Whatever happens with the future of espadín in Chilapa, this batch defies any Oaxaca-centric ideas about espadín. How much are those differences attributable to the terroir of Guerrero VS Oaxaca? How much is the product of a maestro palenquero whose palate was trained on papalote? Did the cost and rarity of the agaves used in this batch earn it special attention that improved the result?

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 Mezcal

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.

1 review

4 out of 5

Zack Klamn

Zack Klamn

119 reviews
Rated 4 out of 5 stars6 days ago

Nose: Felt pen. Vanilla frosting. A pretty light nose.

Palate: Shades of a sweet and savory stir fry sauce (possibly ketjap manis). Very nice mouth feel (slick but not too viscous) and when I work it around I get some awesome icing sugar pops. Big smoke in the finish. White chocolate and oddly green onions in the aftertaste both which blend in with the lasting smoke.

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