In the spirit of transparency, here’s some background on how the whole idea of how Mexico in a Bottle – Washington, D.C. came about: DC is my hometown, but now, my immediate family lives with me on the West Coast. I miss DC, I miss my friends, and I really needed to come up with a reason to visit. Then there was a random meeting and conversation I had with Pati Jinich, the terrific Mexican chef, culinary anthropologist, and resident chef at the Mexican Cultural Institute in DC. She told me that the Mexican culinary scene in Washington was growing. A seed was planted and I told Max that DC needed to be on our shortlist of event cities for 2017. Read more
Posts tagged ‘mezcalero’
– 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
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
This is the second in Craft Distillers’ Special Bottling series. First came the Mezcalero series, then this. The quality is amazing.
- 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
You can taste continuity in this bottle. Read more
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
Craft Distillers, the Ukiah based distributor of well known and loved brands like Alipus, Mezcalero, and Los Nahuales has launched quite an impressive series of blog posts that dig deeply into everything that goes into their mezcals. They start with this really fun post on shipping a Hoga still to Oaxaca
And work through all the steps in making mezcal while addressing some important process questions like the impact of shredders and yeasts.
It’s rare that someone takes this much care examining issues and techniques, let alone for someone in the industry to do it publicly so we heartily commend Ansley Coale’s crew for taking on this labor. It’s fascinating and provides great information for all the discussions that mezcal nerds have all the time. Take a look, you may end up spending your entire day working through their posts.
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.
Friday night I ran a little mezcal tasting as part of a friend’s 40th birthday party. The social environment brings out the more abrupt and unprompted reactions to mezcal which makes them all the more interesting.
We were tasting:
- Wahaka Espadin Joven (espadin)
- Fidencio Clasico (espadin)
- Del Maguey Vida (espadin)
- Mezcalero #3 (dobadan and espadin)
You can’t take these anecdotal reports too seriously but I was fascinated to find out that:
- One group of people really likes the leaner, cleaner, tastes of the Wahaka and Fidencio side of the spectrum. They don’t have anything tremendously negative to say about the Vida but they also really enjoyed the Mezcalero.
- A different group of people really liked Vida and Mezcalero but disliked Wahaka and Fidencio intensely. Every member of this group mentioned a chemical taste to both. Some people reacted really violently to that taste so it was a strugglet to get them to keep tasting. Fortunately everyone soldiered on and ended up enjoying the Vida and Mezcalero.
- It was fascinating to see a roughly even distribution among these groups.
- There is a general question about mezcal; what it is, whether it’s tequila, etc. but pretty much anyone is open to an engaged education about the subject when they have a glass in hand. And, perhaps most importantly, anyone who tasted at least two types of mezcal really enjoyed them.
- The Mezcalero #3 was a big winner so that’s another win for the silvestres blends.
With all that in mind we’re looking forward to additional tastings. Stay tuned.
Mezcalistas continues its tasting roll with a new batch. This time we wanted to focus so we included just 4 mezcals, 2 espadin, one from wild agave known as silvestres, and a true red herring of a flavored pechuga just to see what people thought if it. We tasted:
1) La Puritita Verda’
3) Mezcalero #4 San Juan del Rio
4) Hierve el Agua Pechuga
Profiles for each
1) La Puritita Verda’ is a very soft mezcal from San Juan del Rio, one the most approachable that we’ve ever tasted. It’s made out of espadin and kept at a very low 40% alcohol level. It’s also a more price point friendly offering from Pierde Almas.
2) Semillero is produced in the Matatlan region of Oaxaca. It comes in at the 40% alcohol level and is 100% espadin.
3) The Mezcalero #4 San Juan del Rio is a truly rare bird. First it’s a blend of wild Sierra Negra and tepeztate agaves, you rarely see either, especially the former. Then there’s very little of it in the US let alone Mexico and the price reflects that. Cask lists bottles for $70 while K&L lists bottles for $76, otherwise it’s hard to find online. It’s a well rounded mezcal with a full nose, structured body and measured alcoholic punch.
4) This pechuga from Wilfreido Garcia Martinez‘s palenque in Hierve el Agua is a murky brown liquid because he’s added nuts and dried fruits to the turkey breast method that defines this form of mezcal. It’s rather fruity and medium bodied with a definite alcoholic kick.
1) The comparatively low alcohol of 40% means that La Puritita is softer than any other mezcal in this tasting. Many of our tasters agreed that this a fantastic entry level mezcal because it insinuates itself rather than bracing you with alcohol. But after tasting the rest of the batch many came to regard La Puritita as too soft or mellowing too quickly. As one taster put it: “It’s best at first taste, less enchanting by the third.”
2) Most everyone reacted to the Semillero’s alcohol forward approach negatively. Everyone noted the alcoholic strength in the nose and mouth feel saying it was overpowering and perhaps better used as a cocktail mixer where that strength could be used to its advantage. Tasted neat it was compared to paint thinner and described as not very memorable.
3) The Mezcalero was the clear crowd favorite with everyone noting its balance of alcoholic heat, mixture of nutty and agave flavors, fully expressed nose, and a peppery tail. As one taster said: “It’s a grown up mezcal that could accompany a long conversation.”
4) Reactions to the pechuga were disparate. Some noted a rubber or artificial alcohol smell as they had with the Hierve el Agua espadin. Others liked its soft and rounded nature and talked about the balanced smoke and expressive flavors.