this is the most unwieldy and boldest of the don valente mezcals i’ve had the privilege of sampling (mezcalero special bottling 2 is my favorite mezcal and among the best spirits i’ve ever tasted, no 16 runs a close second, and 18 is a luscious ensamble.) which is in no way a bad thing. aggressively fragrant on the nose—rich fruit-forward sweetness and cooked agave, hot desert sand and rocks, a bit of leather. bright on entry almost immediately tempered by that signature don valente minerality/salinity. karwinski vegetal notes are present with a bit of char that oscillates with burnt sugar and unsweetened vanilla. minty tingliness ushers in the finish that carries for days. i think i described mezcalero special bottling 2 as a desert oasis, this is straight distilled sunlight. absolutely tremendous. i’d be lying if i said i dont miss the velvety texture of special 2 and the finesse that’s mutual to that and no16, but this shows the breadth of don valente’s range for creating excellent mezcal. he’s a goddamn wizard. this is also the first pour off the bottle so curious to see how this opens up, but it’s virtually perfect as is. i bought two blind and may stock up further.
very good, probablh underrating this purely because the mole is a bit overwhelming. i was six mezcals deep though and palate fatigue may be a factor. agave flavor was pretty overwhelmed by the delicious flavor of the mole. too straightforward in that sense. i prefer the elusive mysteries and nuances in something like the real minero pechuga. glad i didnt blind buy a bottle.
probably 4.5. tropical fruit on the nose is a little funkier and drier on the palate. pretty crazy this isnt a pechuga based on how intense the fruit presence is. reminded me a bit of a softer, more mineral forward herencia de sanchez ponche de frutas. very nice and clean. almost no smoke to be found here.
edition 2. very good and my first coyote mezcal. dark, earthy/leathery, just paled a bit in comparison to everything else i was drinking. (real minero ensamble, a couple almamezcalera bottlings)
pure hedonistic bliss. lots going on to mull over but it’s delicious to the point of stunting intellectual engagement. i want a case.
lot curry-30. 51% mexicano, 49% madrecuixe. 162 liters. january 2016. 51.8% abv. exactly like what i imagine the two expressions from vago poured into the same glass would taste like. interesting that the two are so distinguishablein this ensamble. doesnt ever really become its own flavor but rather oscillates between the two seamlessly. delicious but not mind-blowing nor revelatory, which i kind of hoped for for an ensamble of my favorite magueys from one of my favorite producers. if you manage to stumble upon this, you can scoop it ip knowing the juice is worthwhile to boot.
lot D5002-FR, nov 2016, bottle 156/181. it took me a while to figure out what this one smelled like. runts, epsecially banana. fruit and spice galore on entry, agave nectar, hot on the end. very tasty but a little rough around the edges. perhaps needed a little more time in the glass to open up and even out. giving it 4 stars in good faith, as my experience with freshly opened bottles is that they really come into their own as soon as a week after being exposed to the elements. as of now it’s drinking like a 3.5.
lot 002/05/17, matured in glass for 182 days, 48% abv. floral minty-ness with wafts of confectionary shop in the background. a hint of mesquite on the nose is a bit more present on the palate. forestral sweetness, fresh mint without the menthol, slate, desert sand. very elemental. packs a pleasant bite too. finish is long and very nice, maybe my favorite part of this dram. big bang for your buck here. will happily keep this stocked on the bar.
batch EN02, 48.2% abv, bottle 233/268. holy karwinskii! perhaps the best i’ve had, though i think i give mezcalero #16 the edge. more herbaceous on the nose than i’ve had before but otherwise, luscious and bold karwinskii notes, lovely and round vegetal sweetness, musty hot sand. someday i’ll figure out exactly how to articulate the way karwinskiis hit my senses and fire off all the synapses in the pleasure center of my brain. the palate is big but as smooth as eggs, pulling every which way while silkily gliding along the tongue. wish i could’ve spent more time with this one. will be grabbing a bottle asap. i suggest you do the same.
batch PM02, 44.3% abv, 152/268. 4.5 stars. didn’t get a chance to read or take a picture of the back label. earthy, barnyard funk runs rampant on the nose much like the 5 sentidos sierra negra, though not as intense/complex. it’s the top note upon entry but quickly morphs thereafter. starts leathery and gives way to lovely tobala fruitiness. fun to drink, very nice. a little thin on the palate though and perhaps suffered by comparison to the other two i drank this next to (5 sentidos sierra negra and bicuixe-madrecuixe).
RMT-02, 2015 harvest, 49.5% abv, don lorenzo angeles mendoza. very autumnal. deep, ripe pears, hint of mulling spices, earthy clay and distant campfire toastiness give the impression of burning leaves. palate is rich, deep, and round in a way that i haven’t had in any other tobala. i imagine that’s the clay influence. it almost tastes like a jabali to me. mineral driven from midpalate into the finish. medicinal at the very end, unfortunately. really good otherwise. finding that i like tobala as part of an ensamble more than on its own.
edition 9, 2015, 47.8% abv, gregorio martinez g. fruit forward nose with a lightly ferment-y twang, baking spices. anonymous fruitiness leads the palate followed by that jolgorio clean agave greenness, pink peppercorn. the finish is like walking by a bath & body works store. obviously a high quality product but lacking in anything truly exceptional.
edition 6, 2014, 47.1% abv, ignacio parada. smells like a warm greenhouse full of agave and rocks, with a waft of boozy sweetness somewhere between acetone and floral notes. quite nice on the nose. light and smooth on the palate. vegetal sweetness, slightly toasty, mineral-heavy finish. leaves a nice aftertaste. very pleasant all around. trying not to let my love of other mexicano expressions weigh on my ranking of this. this is an easy 4, but relative to other mexicanos i’ve had that are among my favorites (mezcalero special #2, marca negra, vago), this verges on negligible. more a testament to how good those other ones are than anything else.
batch EN03. 48.1% abv. bottle 48/87. i’m having a hard time picking this one apart, as there is a ton going on and it’s rather elusive in the glass. seems to morph and develop by the minute. like the 5 sentidos sierra negra from the same mezcalero, it’s at once rustic and refined. HUGE nose. upfront is a fragrant fruitiness that i can’t quite pin (overripe apples, grilled pineapple, ???) , roasted agave, toasted oak, slight barnyard funk. sweetness on the palate is very earthy, slightly vegetal, with musty minerality and all the fruitiness from the nose harmonizing in the background. very deep and round in the mouth, unbelievably smooth with a pleasant warming buzz as it goes down. long, long finish elegantly fades into hot desert rocks. tremendous mezcal. must try the rest of the line.
batch MJ20-15, 48.6% abv. smells and drinks like a bourgie candy shop. sweet with a lot of depth… red fruits, banana, bubblegum, flowers, hint of roasted beets, nice hit of salinity. like all don beto mezcals, super clean. finish is a bit short. a great arroqueno. 4.5 stars.
lot A-06-C-16 by aquilino, 50.5% abv. bitey roasted agave and charred vegetables, earthy, acetone, campfire, a bit spicy with undertones of unsweetened cocoa and chalk. big mezcal with a kick. hunting lodge juice.
found a couple bottles.
GOOD GOD. unbelievable mezcal. without a doubt the best nose i’ve come across in the world of agave spirits. its completely transportive. smells like a desert oasis—fruit blossoms, spring water, warm sand, wet rocks, cucumber, toasted marshmallow. tastes of vanilla bean flan, spa water, bright ripe peach, tingly baking spices, a slight touch of green peppers and leather, deep deep minerality. perfect harmony. otherworldly mouthfeel, silky and ethereal. the finish goes on forever. booze is undetectable, smoke is all but absent save for a very pleasant toastiness. don valente is a wizard.
really is the finest mezcal in bottle.
almost a 5, my favorite of the DM range. stewed fruit and burnt sugar on the nose. dark flavors reminiscent of heavily sherried single malt, complete with sulphurous char. burnt vanilla and blistered chilis. rich creamy finish. brooding and robust. a drink to end the night with.
smells like a scented candle shop. musky sandalwood, apples, dried flowers, plastic-y synthetic tinge to everything. vague hints of warm baking spices and a dusting of cocoa powder.
batch SN02. barnyard is the overarching note to this. waxy pear, new rubber soles, slight cheesy funk, clean burning embers. much brighter on the palate with sweet, mouthwatering acidity. eucalyptus, new shoes, leathery finish with a faint hint of smoldering campfire. long mineral finish with a touch of goat’s milk. this is among the most beguilingly and enjoyably complex spirits i’ve ever tasted.