Agave: Tobala & Tobaziche
This mezcal is incredibly aromatic. The nose evokes blueberries muffin, cornflakes, bubblegum, and lilac; it’s sweet, heady, and an absolute delight to the senses. When you drill down into it, a lactic influence and vibrant minerality become more obvious. When drank, it’s thick and luscious–that heady aroma definitely converts into a perfumed palate that fills the mouth. Blueberries, cereal, dried flowers, and bubble gum yet again. The profile flirts with being cloying, but some zippy minerality helps elevate it into something intoxicating.
This mezcal really coats the tongue and sticks the landing with a long, lingering finish that carries the notes of lilac and blueberry. This is not an energetic and fresh mezcal. It’s indulgent, complex, and dessert-esque. Its aromas will fill the room, and the spirit itself easily lives up to the bouquet it projects.
Elegant aromas of fresh cucumber, dandelion, unripe honeydew, and pickled peppers–sort of a sweet green profile as opposed to an herbal/vegetal green profile. The cucumber comes through distinctively on the palate, along with peppercorn (in flavor and in sensation), and well-salted roasted vegetables.
This is a cool mezcal with great complexity, though the flavor profile isn’t precisely my cup of tea.
Batch 1119HSA. Not getting a whole lot on the nose. Faint lactic influence, with citrus peel and cooling menthol. Hints of pollen and prickly pear, too. The palate gives a little more. It’s heavy on the anise, fennel, with a general ‘spice’ and vegetal profile. The finish is average in length, but surprisingly acrid and bitter. The vegetal notes don’t dry down kindly.
This is, for me, is a below-average Jabali and a below-average Mal Bien. It’s not very aromatic, which wouldn’t be an issue if the palate was a little more expressive; unfortunately, it’s fairly one dimensional in its anise and vegetal bent. And the finish really leaves much to be desired.
The nose is defined by mango yoghurt–there’s a pronounced lactic influence, paired with really rich and powerful tropical fruit aromas. Lemon curds/key lime, almost incense-like with the spice profile. Quite an addicting nose, and easy to get lost in its depths. Nice mineral bite to it, too. Once you finally finish nosing it and get around to tasting it, it detonates in your mouth, shooting all sorts of flavors in all sorts of directions. I get flat orange fanta, persimmon, and ripe mangoes on the fruit front. Black pepper, lavendar, and even a cornmeal-esque acidity round out the rest of the palate. Really powerful and ever-evolving finish. Sour fruits, sharp acidity, grassy greenness. Oh my!
This is yet another killer mezcal–it’s just so brash and flavorful! Not to mention how exciting and dynamic the flavors themselves are. Supremely fun to drink.
Batch 1019IRM. The nose checks a lot of boxes. Strong underripe melon rind that flirts with cucumber (specifically, boiled cucumber), so fresh and so mouth-watering! Really delicate sweetness, like powdered sugar or freeze-dried strawberries. I can see the argument for caramelized onions on the nose, too. The palate blows me away. An absolute explosion of fleshy and juicy red berries especially strawberry, accompanied by spearmint goodness. This is just crazy delicious. Did someone say strawberry shortcake generously garnished with mint? The finish is long, tingly, and prominently features herbaceous mint that gives way to a really pleasant fruity sweetness.
This absolutely blew me away. I would be happy to drink this nearly every day of the week. Everything about the flavor profile just clicks with me. I’m not getting any of the savory notes I’ve heard many mention, but I sure wish I had a bottle to revisit and see it evolve.
CLM-10. A fairly classic, if ‘uneventful,’ aromatic profile. Bright citrus peel acidity, backed up by prominent roasted agave notes. You’ve really got to dig deep for hints of corn and fruits. The palate is bright, mineral-driven, and a little bit oily. The tropical fruit notes become more present here, mixed in with herbaceousness and spearmint. The finish is short, and fluctuates between being astringent or somewhat mineral-forward.
This is a really solid mezcal at its price point. I would love to make some cocktails with this given its strong, middle-of-the-road agave notes. I would be happy to sip this, too, but would get bored quickly given the lacking finish and complexity.
The nose kicks off with sharp minerality, kind of like pickled mustard plant stem. There is a hint of tropical fruits. While this may not be a superlatively aromatic mezcal, it has an incredibly complex flavor profile. The standout note(s) are medicinal and remind me of TCM I’ve consumed in the past. There is a bitter element that comes through with the poblano pepper–kind of like powdered cacao. There is a certain coat-your-mouth creaminess to this mezcal, and a noticeable lactic influence that is very complementary of the body. What fruitiness is pleasant is at times masked by the heat and the spice notes. There is a funkiness to this that very much so reminds me of Phoenix Aroma baijiu. The finish is another standout feature–it’s quite long, and the warming sensation on the tongue is very pleasant. Initially, I get hints of elote and a bright earthy minerality, which dry down into a nice nuttiness. This is an excellent mezcal and certainly one to revisit, as I know I’ll need multiple sessions with it to really appreciate all that it’s got to offer.
The nose has elements of mint, orange peel, and fresh green bell peppers. It’s simultaneously fresh, green, and earthy, with hints prickly pear and burnt caramel sweetness. Instead of slapping you in the face and storming off, this one starts of soft and gentle on the palate and builds up, becoming more flavorful and more commanding. Plenty of bright herbaceous flavors, just a hint of tropical fruits (mango especially) and lactic influence, and darker notes of burnt sugar and cardamom round it out. The finish is comprised primarily of anise, mint, and roasted agave.
This is a fantastic mezcal, and quickly becoming the one bottle I reach for the most. This was a tough one to review—all the notes that make up its complexity are well integrated and difficult for me to tease out individually! I’ll be revisiting this one frequently, for sure.
Batch Number HER-TEP-001
The nose is all prickly pear and mango yoghurt to me. I also get hints of bubblegum, rubber, chalky minerality, and dandelion.
The palate is sweet and light, as the other reviewers have pointed out. I get loads of honeydew melon, a strong lactic influence, and pumpkin spice! There’s a very faint savory element that reminds me more of glutinous corn, but also potentially pickled jalapeños. Mint, a little bit of tang akin to tangerines (or orange creamsicle) and guava bring up the end and lead into the finish. Overall, the palate is very light in body, and leaves just a trace of grip.
The finish on this one just goes on and on. Mint, garden herbs, cane sugar. Some tropical fruit funk. It reminds me a little bit of cane aguardiente!
This, quite honestly, might be my favorite release from Maguey Melate yet. It’s got heaps of complexity, hitting each and every single one of the notes that I really love in a mezcal. But most impressive of all, it achieves incredible depth and intensity of flavor while remaining light and elegant. It’s easy-drinking, mouth-watering, and just so incredibly hard to put down.
Man, what a ride the nose is. Pickled jalapeños. And when it doesn’t smell like pickled jalapeños, it smells like pickled banana peppers. It’s also lemon-scented dish soap. Funky, sharp cheese. Some rosemary hiding the back, along with anise and some other green herbs that I can’t really discern.
On the palate, this packs a punch with the sharp acidity. Tons and tons of cheese. Cumin. Chives. Tomato juice. Banana peppers. Heavy, heavy lactic influence. The texture seems almost grainy, and is certainly a little grippy and tongue-numbing.
The lactic acidity lingers, though a lot of the funkier flavors don’t last quite as long.
To be quite honest, the Pal’Alma is not my preferred mezcal profile but it’s explosive, complex, and flavorful—not much to complain about! It reminds me very much of cumin lamb skewers, and so it definitely gets bonus points for that.
Batch: Lot 4
The nose consists of mushy pees, mint, cardamom, and underripe prickly pear. There is some very high-tone limestone minerality present, also. The palate is incredibly soft and beautiful. I’m getting lots of anise and a moss-y green-ness. Orange zest melds into a rich salty-sweet combo. There are definitely some sweet berries (blueberry?) playing in the background. The finish is extremely long and pleasant—I could really drink this all night long, every night. Some soft herbal character, complemented by sweet rock candy.
This is an incredible sotol, and checks all the boxes every step of the way. I would love to own a whole bottle of this, to break out when I don’t know what I want to drink.
Jalapeno (verging on tomatoes), mint, and lime zest on the nose. The palate opens up with malt-like earthy sweetness and is followed by some more jalapeño and green bell pepper. It’s quite punchy, and almost breath-mint like at times. The finish is quite mouthwatering, and introduces some corn meal on the finish.
This is a really solid and enjoyable mezcal!
Sugarcane, white flowers, and some muted minerality on the nose. The palate is raw celery or maybe melon rind, blueberry, and strawberry starburst. This is way more flavorful than I expected, with a candy-like sweet berry flavor. A funky lactic influence appears in the finish, which takes a turn for the green and herbaceous. The candy-like sweetness makes it all the way to the finish line and lingers.
I didn’t care much for this when I first tried it years ago, but I’m really enjoying this now that I’m trying it again for the first time in quite a while. It’s supremely well-balanced, and on the lighter and more elegant side of the flavor spectrum (of which I am a big fan).
Batch Number NOE-COY-001
Smells almost like a band-aid on the first pass. There’s fairly prominent minerality present in the form of wet clay and limestone. Theres a hint of mango, or maybe even lychee! There are sharp green notes present too, which I can only describe as fresh garden herb. On the palate, I’m getting green bell pepper, licorice, some lime zest. The acidity is fairly high-tone. There’s some lactic influence here, too—kind of like mint yoghurt. The nice minty green-ness and clay minerality lasts quite a while and leaves the tongue tingling. It’s hot, but very enjoyable.
This mezcal is incredibly refreshing to drink, and strangely kind of reminds me of thin mints (in a good way). This, like most of what Melate puts out, is packed full of delightful flavors.
Batch Number SEM-ARR-001
Olive brine, citrus zest, and chocolate mint on the nose. The minty and zesty aromas carry over to the palate, which also pulls in elements of tropical fruit like pineapple and mango, and garden herbs. There’s also a subdued limestone minerality that plays well with the gentle sweetness. The finish takes a turn for earthy—wet leaves, and clay. The notes from the palate almost all stick around, as well.
Overall, the palate is incredibly flavorful yet gentle. This is an exceptionally balanced mezcal, and it is an absolute pleasure to drink. It has grown on me since I first opened the bottle, and is probably the mezcal I reach for most often right now.
Batch Number: MIA-TBS1803H
The nose on this mezcal is fairly subdued. There is some high-toned acidity and very bright, chalky minerality. A hint of dried corn husk, cooling spearmint, and tropical fruit hide underneath. On the palate, there is a burst of flavor. On occasion, the palate is dominated by lush tropical fruits and red berries. Today, the dried corn husk returns and evolves into earthy corn meal. The cooling spearmint gives way to eucalyptus and thyme. The fruit notes are playing nice in the background, and play nicely with the green notes on the finish. Ultimately, the earthiness outlasts all the other notes, and go on for quite some time.
This is my desert island bottle, at least for now. I first tried this mezcal at a La Medida tasting hosted at ATLA in NYC months ago. I was completely and utterly blown away by what I was tasting, and acquiring one of these EU-only releases became my top priority. Now that I have one in hand (albeit a different batch), I’ve come to appreciate how intense and constantly-evolving this mezcal is.
Batch Number FED-ENS-001
I’m picking up some lactic influence on the nose, as well as a light and fruity sweetness, akin to honeydew. Also getting some green spearmint, and occasionally decomposing mango or lemon warhead. On the palate, I get really prominent cracked black pepper and green herbal notes. Tropical fruit notes, anise, and mint make a reappearance as well. Pretty intense, and complex! The lactic component is feint, and makes a return on the finish, which is long, smoky, and evolving. There is distinct anise, as well as a lemon custard note that adds additional sweetness and brightness.
I really, really love this mezcal. It’s predominantly “green”—herbal and peppery. The cast of supporting flavors adds a ton of complexity, and is constantly evolving. The palate and finish are intense, and make for an electrifying drinking experience. The finish tapers off into being quite bitter (at least to my palate), and is really the only thing holding it back from a perfect score.
Batch Number FEL-TOB-001
Nose: Tomato paste is backed up by a gentle bouquet of mango and lime—there’s certainly a feint savory element here. Fresh waxy corn also comes through very distinctly. Really bright acidity all throughout—also kind of funky, like a good skin contact wine. As a whole package, I can only describe this as being reminiscent of fresh corn salsa, or a grilled corn Pico de Gallo.
Palate: This is knock-your-socks off good. The spirit itself is quite unctuous. I’m getting a hint of lactic influence, which is quickly engulfed by more garden herbs, fresh tomato, and waxy corn. Overall, the profile is earthy and ‘green’ (anise, eucalyptus).
Finish: The finish just goes on and on with this one. The garden herbs really persist, and the yoghurt-y lactic component makes a reappearance as well.
This is quickly becoming one of my favorite mezcals. It’s complex and balanced, and brings a lot of interesting aromas and notes to the table. It even sticks the landing!
El Destilado Papalome Amando Alvarez
Release 02 – Distilled 04.2018 – 44.2% ABV
The nose is defined by a striking and complex acidity that is evocative of both Crystal hot sauce and green apple. There is also a saline component to the aroma that reminds me of olive brine, or perhaps pickled mustard plant stem. Though I can no longer detect it, there were also faint whiffs of blueberry, watermelon rind, and fresh red fruits.
On the palate, the spirit has a good amount of heft. The acidity I noted earlier is still incredibly sharp and almost cheesy. Garden herbs like thyme and basil make an appearance, however briefly. Watermelon rind and cayenne peppers (or is it pink peppercorn?) make a grand entrance right at the back of the tongue. Any potential lactic influence is nearly imperceptible, and I’m not picking up any smoke whatsoever.
The sweetness lingers on the finish but does nothing to stop my mouth from watering and tingling. I’m getting some dehydrated pineapple on the finish, but the finish isn’t particularly consistent anyway.
This is a beautiful, evocative mezcal that reinforces my love of rawhide fermentation. The unctuous acidity is a welcome change of pace compared to the mineral-driven acidity of the Miahuatlan mezcals I typically drink, and the delightful supporting cast of fruits and herbs bring a lot to the table.
In light of Amando’s recent revelations, I recommend enjoying this mezcal with Mysterious Vibes by The Blackbyrds playing in the backdrop.