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Posts from the ‘Tasting Notes’ Category

Tasting Notes: Mezcalero #17

The latest in Craft DistillersMezcalero line which delivers extremely small production batches from a variety of locations around Oaxaca.

 mezcalero17The details:

– Location: San Baltazar Guélavila
– Agave: Cultivated espadín and agave de lumbre
– Maestro Mescalero: Cirilo Hernández
– Quantity: 184 cases / 1104 bottles
– Distillation Date: March 2014
– Bottled: June 2015.
– ABV: 48%
– NOM: O14X

 

 

The background:

These are the sort of one off distillations that used to define mezcal so this series is something of a relic of another era and testament to all the riches that remain. As I’ve said before, the mere existence of Mezcalero is fantastic, the fact that they continue to produce such high quality mezcals so consistently is even better. Read more

Tasting Notes: La Venenosa Raicilla Sierra de Jalisco

Since its premiere at Mezcal: Mexico in a Bottle 2014 Raicilla Venenosa has been a constant presence at better mezcalerias. It was the first racilla legally imported into the United States and was only recently joined by a second. The distinctive flavors of this other Jaliscan mezcal are well worth seeking out.

Raicilla Venenosa Sierra de Jalisco Raicilla Venenosa Sierra de Jalisco

The details:

– Location: Mascota, Jalisco.
– Agave: Agave maximiliana.
– Maestro Mezcalero: Don Ruben Peña Fuentes
– Quantity: 800 bottles
– Distillation Date: April 2014
– ABV: 42%

The background:

Esteban Morales really brought raicilla to the United States and we’re all the richer for his work with Arik Torren to make that happen because raicilla is so different from other mezcals – once you try it you’ll instantly understand why it deserves its own category. Read more

Tasting Notes: Los Nahuales Special Edition No. 1

The Los Nahuales Special Edition No. 1 is the first and, hopefully only the first, in a series of special editions from one of the longest standing and most prominent mezcal brands in the United States.

Los Nahuales Special Edition No. 1The details:
– Location: Santiago Matatlán
– Agave: 41.3% wild cuishe Agave karwinskii and 58.7% Sierrudo, a type of Agave americano.
– Maestro Mezcalero: Karina Abad
– Quantity: 1520 bottles. The majority only available through K&L Wines. 720 bottles are distributed by Craft Distillers
– Distillation Date: April/May 2015
– ABV: 48%
– NOM: O14X

 

 

 

The background:

This is the fruit of another of those mezcal world happenstances. While hanging out at Marco Polo with Karina Abad who manages Los Danzantes’ entire production Ansley Coale and K&L Wines’ David Driscoll cooked up the idea of Karina doing a batch all on her own. The rest is in the bottle but you can get a portion of the foreshadowing and narrative in Driscoll’s blogging about that trip. Read more

Tasting Notes: La Niña del Mezcal Bacanora

Long known for her flagship espadín La Niña del Mezcal’s Cecilia Murrieta is releasing intriguing bottles that span the agave spirits universe.

La Niña del Mezcal Bacanora

The details:

– Location: San Pedro de la Cueva, Sonora
– Agave: Agave yaquiana
– Maestro Mescalero: Rafael Encinas
– Bottle: 627 / 1000
– Batch No. : B001
– ABV: 48%

The background:

Bacanora has had it’s own Denominación since 2000 but it’s been traditionally produced in Sonora for quite some time. Unfortunately not many variations are imported, mostly we’ve had to rely on samizdat bottles that we bring in ourselves or find on friends’ bars. To date the most prominent brand imported in the United States is Cielo Rojo. Read more

Capturing the flavors of Mexico, one bottle at a time

I’ll never forget that first sip of Ancho Reyes, the chile liquor from Montelobos. It was of course at a mezcal tasting held, appropriately enough, for the screening of Viva Mezcal at Guelaguetza Restaurant in Los Angeles. Ivan Saldaña, the mad botanist/chemist behind Montelobos Mezcal, pulled a bottle out for some of us to try. This was the spring of 2012: What we now know as Ancho Reyes was months away from launching in the market. At that moment we hadn’t a clue what this was or how it would eventually take the cocktail market by storm. We tried it several different ways – neat, over ice, with club soda and across the board, the reaction was, well, highly enthusiastic to say the least. The flavor was so deep and spicy, it was the perfect essence of smoked chile in a bottle.

With that kind of a track record, you can imagine the buzz about the soon to be launched Ancho Verde. I was lucky enough to get an early try, and to catch up with Ivan to talk about this new addition to his portfolio. Saldaña has a long history in the agave world. As a scientist he has a deep background of studying agaves and how we process flavors, and in 2011, he launched Montelobos Mezcal. He is also a big proponent of pushing for sustainability in the agave world, especially to make sure that  Read more

Tasting Notes: Mezcalero Special Bottling No. 2

 

This is the second in Craft Distillers’ Special Bottling series. First came the Mezcalero series, then this. The quality is amazing.

Mezcalero Special Bottling No. 2

The details:

  • Location: Santa María La Pila, Mihuatlán, Oaxaca
  • Agave: Dobadaan aka agave rhodacantha
  • Maestro Mezcalero: Don Valente Ángel García Juárez
  • Quantity: 768 bottles
  • Distillation Date: October -November 2012
  • Bottled: March 2016
  • ABV: 48.76%
  • NOM: O14X

 

 

Background:

You can taste continuity in this bottle. Read more

Tasting Notes: Alipús San Andrés Ensamble

The Alipús line continues to evolve. The latest addition is an ensamble which originally was designed to replace the San Andrés, now it appears it will complement it. The details:

The front label of the San Andres Ensamble.

The front label of the San Andres Ensamble.

  • Location: Santa María La Pila, Mihuatlán, Oaxaca
  • Agave: 80% Espadín, 20% Bicuishe
  • Maestro Mezcalero: Don Valente Ángel García Juárez
  • Quantity: 800 bottles in this batch. More to come.
  • ABV: 47.2%
  • NOM: O14X

Background:

As with its predecessor, the San Andrés Ensamble carries the pink label of the Alipús line because it is also made by maestro mezcalero Don Valente Ángel García Juárez in the same location as the original San Andrés. That original was made solely of espadín and quickly Read more

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. Read more

Waiter, is that a ham in my mezcal? Tasting notes from the Del Maguey Iberico

The Del Maguey Ibérico on the ABV bar.

The Del Maguey Ibérico on the ABV bar.

No doubt you’ve already heard about the Del Maguey Ibérico. It’s a collaboration between Del Maguey and star chef José Andrés to make a pechuga out of jamon iberico. It received ample coverage, if ever something screamed marketing stunt, this was it.

That and its price tag of $200 per bottle are the reasons it took Susan and me so long to give it a taste. A normal two ounce pour makes it quite an investment, but recently Susan and I descended on ABV, Ryan Fitzgerald’s tautly run agave bar and bistro kitchen right as they opened at 2PM on a Monday. I admit that I was the first through the door but I was closely followed by a cluster of people. Fortunately San Franciscan drinking culture is alive and well.

ABV is far more than just an agave outlet. The whole place is run with great sensibility with a trio of wines on tap including the amazing Scholium Project red and a bunch of Moonlight brews on tap. Dive into their menu, especially the Pimento Cheese Burger which is a real highlight and the extraordinary kimchee fritter.

And ABV is one of the ideal places to sample something like this because they don’t only offer that big two ounce pour, they also offer the perfectly reasonable (indeed it should be standard) one ounce pour which at $15 for the Ibérico is entirely doable. Our great Peruvian bartender Enrique gave us a pour in a clay copita and away we went.

Suffice to say that it’s a huge surprise.

Del Maguey Iberico Pechuga
49% ABV
Lot SCM 135
NOM O41X
Santa Catarina Minas
Clay still

A copita full of the Del Maguey Ibérico.

A copita full of the Del Maguey Ibérico.

It has a very sweet nose, neither of us got any smoke.

The body is extraordinarily light, some sweetness but completely unexpected, none of that typical agave sweetness nor the oil that I associate with pechugas. The cured meat obviously changes the pechuga equation dramatically. You’d be hard pressed to call this out as 49% alcohol, because the flavor, body, and every other indicator don’t point in that direction. The lean body make it a great pick for sipping alone.

The finish is dusty, leathery and endures long past your last taste.

Yet another argument for experimentation in mezcal.

Amarás, Amores, Anchor – AAA tasting notes

Mezcal AmarásIf you attended Tales of the Cocktail last summer you may have been lucky enough to taste Mezcal Amarás at its American launch. It’s finally available in retail establishments and bars. You can ascribe the delay between launch and street date to, of all things, a translation issue with a poem on the bottle’s label. Poem removed, bottle available. Voila!

Amarás probably looks familiar because the mezcal and brand were designed by the people behind Mezcal Amores, and imported by San Francisco’s own Anchor Distilling. As they say on their web site “Different name, same trip.”

 

 

Details

Agave Espadin

San Juan del Rio

41% ABV

NOM: O239X

Batch 1

Production: 3,300 bottles

Retail Price: Approximately $50.00

Background

While this project is managed by the same people behind mezcal Amores they’re working with a different set of five mezcaleros working collaboratively in San Juan del Rio who call themselves “Laajsh Doob” which means “land of agave” in Nahuatal. It looks like the same distillers are behind Pierde Almas‘ Purtita Verda and Espadin.

The bottle displays the same font and design treatment of Amores so the design continuity is very clear. The bottles are embossed with AM on the base and shoulders similar to Medieval heraldic crests. At first I thought it depicted a bat, the famous agave pollinator, unfortunately my imagination was getting ahead of me.

Tasting Notes

It has a fairly light nose that is simple and I mean that without any sense of deprecation. There’s no overwhelming scent of smoke, chemical or fruit. It’s there, a good, straight espadin.

The sensation rolls through soft and round front of mouth resolving into effervescent sensations as it tails off. It has very little viscosity. The flavors are very restrained and  mirror the mouth feel. It starts as a very straight ahead espadin with very little smoke and light agave flavor and then finishes with a wonderful mineral wash. It’s a great sipper at a great price.

Anchor Distilling is currently shipping it to 12 states including California and Texas. It’s not available in New York yet but it’s only a matter of time. They are also preparing a Cupreata from Guerrero for release sometime soon. That’s a varietal that we’d like to see more. Prepare yourselves.