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Mezcals Momentum

If you hear the words varietal and terroir, thoughts immediately turn to wine. Not so fast! These terms also apply to Mezcal…

From Understanding Mezcal by Jay Schroeder:

The most common confusion is between mezcal and tequila. "Tequila and mezcal started life the same. Both are from the agave plant and were both originally made the same way, but tequila went modern. It’s softer, rounder. Mezcal is the spirit time forgot. It’s made like it was 400 years ago," Schroeder explains. That means the piña is roasted in an earthen oven, put in water in a tank and allowed to ferment. "The average [batch] is made in a backyard," Schroeder says, which accounts for some of its artisanal appeal. "It’s made from Sonora in the north to Oaxaca in the south, but many of the traditions emanate from Oaxaca. The state of Oaxaca is the second poorest state, so it’s good for its economy."

Tequila is only made from the mash of a blue agave. It can actually be considered a variety of mezcal, which can be made from many different agaves and will have a taste of the terroir where it was made. "Where tequila sings a gorgeous solo, mezcal rises with a thousand voices, each unique but blending into the glorious chorus of tradition," Rick Bayless poetically writes on the Leña Brava menu.

Mezcal can be sipped but its haunting smoky flavor also works well in cocktails. Schroeder concocts one with mezcal from Guerrero, cantaloupe purée, Prosecco, green Chartreuse, lime juice and cassia bark (cinnamon) syrup. Another cocktail comes in the form of mezcal and Cognac, pineapple, green cardamom, lemon juice and clove.

What we’re drinking: Del Maguey Vida, Ilegal Joven, Mezcal Union El Viejo, Palenqueros Juan Hernandez Tobasiche Joven

Del Maguey Vida Mezcal
750ml | SKU 48977  Highly mixable, it has a nose of fruit aromatics, a hint of honey, vanilla and roast agave; the palate offers ginger, cinnamon, burnt sandalwood, banana and tangerine, with a long, soft finish.
El Silencio Espadin Mezcal
750ml | SKU 71625  Mezcal El Silencio is made in Oaxaca, Mexico, using the traditional process carried on by generations of mezcaleros. Meticulously picked agaves are roasted, crushed, and double distilled, resulting in a full-bodied flavor.
Ilegal Anejo Mezcal
750ml | SKU 65250  Aged for 4 months in ex-bourbon barrels. Sweet agave, light smoke. Toffee, vanilla, and hints of butterscotch and caramelized pear on the palate. Velvety throughout.
Ilegal Joven Mezcal
750ml | SKU 58292  Ilegal Joven is ideal for cocktails and perfect to be sipped on its own. It has deep agave aromas, and hints of green apple, citrus and white pepper.
Peloton de la Muerte Mezcal
1L | SKU 63144  A mellow, nicely balanced sipping mezcal with a nice interplay of delicate smoke and creamy fruitiness.