Report from the Monterey Tequila and Mezcal Expo
I spent the weekend in sunny Monterey attending the 4th Annual Tequila and Mezcal Expo. The tasting presented a nice contrast between the worlds of tequila and mezcal.
Mezcal was well represented by Wahaka, Beneva and the Craft Distillers lines; Mezcalero, Alipus and Los Nahuales. Craft’s Ansley Coale made for an excellent guide through their mezcals. He’s quite an engaging speaker on the world of mezcal so if you see him at a tasting make sure to pick his brain. He guided us through their selections which included Mezcalero #6 which should be released later this year. It’s extremely different from the 100% espadin #5. It’s a silvestres blend from Mexicana, Madrecuishe and Bicuishe semi-cultivated on hillsides. It’s a full and round mezcal that stands up to the promise of the entire line of Mezcalero bottlings. Once it hits stores I highly recommend seeking out a bottle, it’s one of the more nuanced mezcals out there and the entire Mezcalero project is well worth following. We will, of course, offer a review once it’s released.
The Beneva blanco was a more straightforward mezcal with a bit of cinnamon on the palate while a retaste of the Wahaka line reminded me that they have a fantastic set of contrasts. I know that at least Wahaka will be at the Craft Spirits Carnival this Saturday and Sunday October 13th and 14th at Fort Mason in San Francisco so that’s a great opportunity to taste through their line and see what all the buzz is about.
As expected the tequilas were a great contrast with the traditional stalwart Fortalezza making a fantastic showing. As far as we’re concerned they can do no wrong and offer the best contrast to mezcal because their blanco has a similarly broad mouth feel that doesn’t shy away from full agave flavors. Tasted side by side with the Mezcalero #5 or #6 you can readily see that they’re from the same family and understand how the terroir, fruit and processes diverge. The other big highlight from the tequila side of things was the T1 line which was represented by the maker German Gonzalez in his trademark hat. The blanco is leaner than the Fortalezza but similarly devoted to bringing out the flavors of its agave. I look forward to tasting it again soon along side a few other blancos and mezcals.
Oh and I fulfilled a lifelong ambition and met William Faulkner! For a second there I thought his ghost would join us in drink but it turned out to be a mariachi harpist with great chops. Not nearly as good as the author but fantastic entertainment.