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Tasting Notes: Mezcalero #15

Mezcalero 15 bottle

The latest bottle in Craft Distillers’ stellar Mezcalero series of small batch mezcals is out and it’s quite a marvel. First the details:

  • Location: San Luis del Rio, Tlacolula
  • Agave: Sierra Negra
  • Maestro Mezcalero:Don Baltazar Cruz Gomez
  • Distillation Date: October 2014
  • Bottle Date: October 2015
  • Quantity: 188 cases (846 liters / 1128 bottles)
  • ABV: 47.23%

As with all bottles in the series all those details are printed prominently on the label. It’s hard to believe that until recently this was a rarity, Mezcalero deserves credit for having been among the first to pioneer this standard.

It’s great to see these small batches still arriving in the US. Along with a few others like Mezcalosfera and the Fundación Agaves Silvestres’ Vino del Mezcal series offer rare opportunities to drink these sorts of mezcals. This is how most mezcal used to be made and consumed – you pay for it because of all the costs involved which include – but aren’t limited to – getting certified by the CRM, shipping, distribution, and actually paying the mezcal maker a fair price. Just keep that in mind next time you feel the urge to complain about the cost! These types of mezcals are fairly priced, probably even under priced considering how unique they are.

The fifteenth bottling in the Mezcalero series is for serious aficionados. It’s made from Sierra Negra which is one of the rarest agaves. Mezcals made from this agave, technically a variant of agave americano, are almost impossible to find and they reward seekers with their individuality. Drinking these you get the feeling that mezcaleros just bow down to the inherent flavors in the agave and distill with the lightest of touches.

Mezcalero 15 label

Tasting Notes:

The nose on this Sierra Negra is really difficult to put into words. It’s definitely on the dry side – the best descriptor we have besides “dry” is “dusty” which gives you a sense of what we were detecting. The body was also strikingly dry with lots of minerality, very low viscosity, and a touch of sweetness at the front of the palate. While tasting it we talked for a while about how many mezcals and tequilas skew to the caramelized side of the spectrum. This Sierra Negra definitely is on the opposite side, obviously distilled with a very light touch. Non descriptive but comumicative words like “Delightful” punctuated our tasting notes. The alcohol really showed through so we double checked the label and were struck that it’s just at 47.23. We were also struck by the additional decimal places for the ABV on this one. They’re obviously very focused on this bottling.

How fun is Mezcal: Mexico in a Bottle?

Don’t take our word for it, take a look at this video of the 2015 Mezcal: Mexico in a Bottle in San Francisco. This year we’re expanding so tell all your friends that we’re bringing Mezcal: Mexico in a Bottle to NYC 6/5 & 6/6, Chicago 9/18, then back to where it all began in SF 11/13.

Mezcal: Mexico in a Bottle comes to NYC!

MEXICO IN A BOTTLE 2016 NY

We are super happy to announce that Mezcal: Mexico in a Bottle will premiere in New York City this June 5th and 6th at Casa Mezcal. We’ve always wanted to take our tasting on the road and it’s finally time.  We’ll feature our patented mixture of fantastic mezcals, cocktails, bites, luminaries from the mezcal world, all wrapped in the music, video, and art of contemporary Mexico. You can see our full mezcal and programming line up on the Mezcal: Mexico in a Bottle web site. 

Lest you think we’re lazy, we’re also bringing Mezcal: Mexico in a Bottle to Chicago on September 18th, back to San Francisco November 13th, and we’re looking at a few other locations for next year. Watch this space for details!

Where to drink mezcal

Man, mezcal is getting popular in the United States. Last week I gave a talk to the California Academy of Sciences titled “Why Mezcal, Why Now?” The number of additions to our Where to Drink Mezcal in the United States list and map is another way of answering that question. We’ve added quite a few locations in recent weeks including Read more

Why Cinco de Mayo?

It’s that time of year again. Our feeds all blow up with mentions of tequila’s smoky cousin, special cocktails that stretch the boundaries of credulity, and all sorts of Mexican oriented drunkenness. While bartenders privately lament the lack of manners they enjoy the tips.

We’re not immune to the lure of Cinco de Mayo, hey, it’s a teaching opportunity! Hence our involvement in the San Francisco Academy of Science’s Thursday evening event. I’ll have a presentation on “Why Mezcal, Why Now” along with Raza Zaidi of Wahaka, Elisandro Gonzalez of Tosba, and Dr. Blake Simmons on agave’s use as biofuel. Oh, and there will be cocktails as well!

If you can’t make it, there are sure to be tons of events in your zip code but first we want to give you a primer on what Cinco de Mayo’s background because the true meaning of the holiday is infinitely more insidious and complex than most people make out. And, in many ways it’s the story of our era. Read more

Taste agave spirits blind and you may end up seeing more

By Ferron Salniker

Tomas Estes— international tequila ambassador, Tequila Ocho co-founder, and restaurateur— visited Tacolicious last week armed with five mystery agave spirits and a sales pitch.

Tomas Estes guides the tasting. Photo by Ferron Salniker

Tomas Estes guides the tasting. Photo by Ferron Salniker

“I’m not trying to sell you anything. Wait, actually I am,” he joked. “I’m trying to sell you agave spirits as a whole.” Read more

Why mezcal, why now?

I know, you wake up daily pondering that question and it’s the one that sees you off at night. The good news is that I’m here to help. I’ll be making a presentation to the California Academy of Sciences for their Cinco de mayo celebration this Thursday evening on exactly this topic so get your tickets today and swing on by Thursday evening. Read more

Pop Up in our Pulqueria

Pop Up Pulqueria Tamarindo

Our first Pop Up Pulqueria was so popular that we’re bringing it back but shifting zip codes to Tamarindo in Downtown Oakland. The idea is the same, we’ll have lots of fantastic, made in California pulque on hand and you can meet the master, that is, pulque maestro Salvador Gonzalez will be on hand to guide you through pulque’s rich history and delicious flavors.

To up the ante (and agave!), we’re also bringing in Don Amado‘s Jacob Lustig to show you what mezcal is all about. The kick ass bartenders at Tamarindo will create a a special cocktail, plus a special Pozole from the delicious kitchen, all for $35! All other drinks (additional cocktails, beer) are not included in the price but are available for purchase. Just remember, we sold out of our first Pop Up Pulqueria the week before it happened so don’t delay, get your tickets today!

It’s 4-7PM Sunday, May 15th. Tamarindo Antojeria 468 8th St, Oakland, California 94607. Get your tickets today!

Another reason to eliminate NOM 199 – It destroys Mexican tradition

(This is the last week to register your public comments about NOM 199. You can read all of our coverage here but we have also asked for comment from a few people in the mezcal world. Here are comments from Rachel Glueck and Noel Morales who have created Amor del Diablo mezcal )

It’s clear that NOM-199 is made to keep market control in the hands of those already established. It’s a completely non-sensical proposal that is antithetical to what mezcal truly is, and a slap in the face to the real producers of mezcal. Mezcal is booming because of its authenticity and diversity, because it is directly linked to centuries-old traditions. The consumer craves that connection, and mezcal is one of the only spirits in the world that offers that.

Mezcal is not an industry; mezcal is a tradition. This Occidental idea of “industry” will ruin everything. It’s very important for the communities – the communities don’t buy whiskey for the ceremonies, they buy mezcal. If you destroy this, you destroy many things – including your industry. Read more

Penca

Pencase before their removal.

Pencas before their removal.

Penca literally means leaf or “fleshy leaf of an agave or cactus.” In the Mexican world the meaning is obvious and literal. The leaves of the agave that have to be sheared off before you get to the piña.

Freshly shorn, a piña emerges from its pencas.

Freshly shorn, a piña emerges from its pencas.

Like all things in the Mexican universe a penca is never just a penca. It doesn’t just get cut off the piña, lie inert and decompose. No, once shorn it becomes integrated into a wide web of functions including decomposing in a pile. Read more