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Thread: Mezcal

  1. #1
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    Mezcal

    Think this delicious spirit deserves its own thread. I've been making my way through several bottles. The Del Maguey Chichicapa was a great training wheels bottle. I recently put back a bottle of the Piedra Almas Espadin (52%). It smoke was very light and there was a lot of earthy citrus/sweetness. Great bottle. I'm now working my way through the PA Dobadaan. Its a lot more green and vegital, but has opened up a little with air and sweetened. I wasn't a fan out of the gate but its becoming more enjoyable. Still don't think I'd purchase another bottle. I think I might grab a bottle of the PA Tobaziche for a camping trip this weekend.

    Anyone else diving into mezcal these days?
    Last edited by Dolph Lundgren; 08-27-2014 at 08:50.
    Justin

  2. #2
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    Re: Mezcal

    Not exactly diving in but have been enjoying several mezcals of late especially with cocktails. Del Maguay Vida of course but Sombra has been a favorite as a mixer and for a nice sipping mezcal I have been enjoying the Del Maguey Tobala although that one is a bit pricey for someone to use as a training wheels bottle! Of course the Chichicapa isn't exactly a value buy either.
    That yella whiskey runnin' down my throat like honey dew vine water and I took another slash…

    Nullum Gratuitum Prandium
    Ne Illegitimi Carborundum

  3. #3
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    Re: Mezcal

    The Sombra was fantastic and such a value pour. I believe it was sourced from one of the same distillers Del Maguey uses. I feel like the Vida is a good mixer but not much beyond that. And yeah, the Chichi isn't cheap, but relative to Bourbon and Malt, its still pretty cheap (and available on shelves).
    Justin

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    Re: Mezcal

    Quote Originally Posted by Dolph Lundgren View Post
    The Sombra was fantastic and such a value pour. I believe it was sourced from one of the same distillers Del Maguey uses. I feel like the Vida is a good mixer but not much beyond that. And yeah, the Chichi isn't cheap, but relative to Bourbon and Malt, its still pretty cheap (and available on shelves).
    As I understand it Sombra was originally made at a Del Maguey producer in San Luis del Rio, where DM Vida and DM San Luis del Rio are made, with consultation from the Del Maguey owner Ron Cooper but is now made at a different distillery in San Juan del Rio I believe.

    I agree that Vida is basic but decent for mixing where you don't want the mezcal to dominate. I do tend to prefer the Sombra in most cases as a mixer.
    That yella whiskey runnin' down my throat like honey dew vine water and I took another slash…

    Nullum Gratuitum Prandium
    Ne Illegitimi Carborundum

  5. #5
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    Re: Mezcal

    Hell's yeah.

    When I first really got into bourbon...now about seven years ago, I put together at my bar, Liberty in Seattle what was one of America's better bourbon lists. From there I moved a bit (while still loving American whiskey) to Japanese whisky but then something happened when I had my first mezcal, now five years ago. Now, Liberty has (arguably) America's biggest mezcal list with over 70 traditional mezcals.

    And, that's something to talk about. The difference between traditional and industrial mezcal. So far, in the American market, there are only a few industrial mezcals, Zignum, most widely-available. Like mezcal, the agave for tequila can be cooked in a more traditional manner (in a 'horno' - a brick oven for tequila) or a more industrial manner using autoclaves or worse, a 'difusor' which 'cooks' the Blue Webber agave using very hot water and even acid. Not so great.

    With mezcal, traditionally, it's cooked in an 'oven' that is a hole in the ground that first has wood burnt, and then volcanic stones on top of that to retain the heat. To this, the agave piñas are stacked and covered and roast that way for sometimes a week or more. Thus the 'smokey' taste, reminiscent of the Islay/Island Scotch whiskies - literally the phenols being that commonality.

    I am belaboring the point here, and I could go on and on about the various agaves used and the incredible difference in the distillation process compared to the bourbon industry - but I would encourage people out there to try mezcal, but make sure that it is traditional mezcal, not the industrial that we'll see more and more and more in the months/years to come.

    If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to ask.

    Andrew Friedman
    andrew@libertybars.com

  6. #6
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    Re: Mezcal

    Mezcal intrigues me as I've been told it's like the Islay of Tequila. Any suggestions on a bottle to start out with?

  7. #7
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    Re: Mezcal

    Quote Originally Posted by Clavius View Post
    Mezcal intrigues me as I've been told it's like the Islay of Tequila. Any suggestions on a bottle to start out with?
    Sounds like Andrew might have some good ideas (he certainly carries a nice selection as he mentioned) but depending on what price point you want to start with and whether you are talking sipping or mixing you have some options.

    Del Maguey is a brand that is pretty readily available all over with a decent reputation. Probably can find some in a decent cocktail bar as well if you want to taste first. They make a number of varieties. For one to try neat the DM Chichicapa is not a bad place to start ($65 at TPS). Fidencio and Illegal are also pretty common brands but I haven't tried either in a while. I have an older bottle of Los Danzantes (now called Los Nahuales) reposado mezcal I enjoy as well and it is a similar price to the Chichicapa. I think it has a connection to Del Maguey as well.

    If you want smoke try the Sombra! Strong citrusy notes with lots of smoke.

    Maybe Max will wonder in and offer some thoughts although I think his focus is on tequila, not mezcal.
    Last edited by tanstaafl2; 08-28-2014 at 15:12.
    That yella whiskey runnin' down my throat like honey dew vine water and I took another slash…

    Nullum Gratuitum Prandium
    Ne Illegitimi Carborundum

  8. #8
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    Re: Mezcal

    My experience is limited to the approximate 55 gallon drum of Monte Alban I drank as an undergrad.

    Somehow, I didn't even manage to save a single tasting note.

  9. #9
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    Re: Mezcal

    Love the mezcal thread! I've been branching out from whiskey recently and mezcal has been something I've been digging. I currently have a Tosba espadin open and it's quite nice. It's a little rough around the edges, but it has a nice balance of agave and smoke.

  10. #10
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    Re: Mezcal

    Quote Originally Posted by libertybar View Post
    Hell's yeah.

    When I first really got into bourbon...now about seven years ago, I put together at my bar, Liberty in Seattle what was one of America's better bourbon lists. From there I moved a bit (while still loving American whiskey) to Japanese whisky but then something happened when I had my first mezcal, now five years ago. Now, Liberty has (arguably) America's biggest mezcal list with over 70 traditional mezcals.

    And, that's something to talk about. The difference between traditional and industrial mezcal. So far, in the American market, there are only a few industrial mezcals, Zignum, most widely-available. Like mezcal, the agave for tequila can be cooked in a more traditional manner (in a 'horno' - a brick oven for tequila) or a more industrial manner using autoclaves or worse, a 'difusor' which 'cooks' the Blue Webber agave using very hot water and even acid. Not so great.

    With mezcal, traditionally, it's cooked in an 'oven' that is a hole in the ground that first has wood burnt, and then volcanic stones on top of that to retain the heat. To this, the agave piñas are stacked and covered and roast that way for sometimes a week or more. Thus the 'smokey' taste, reminiscent of the Islay/Island Scotch whiskies - literally the phenols being that commonality.

    I am belaboring the point here, and I could go on and on about the various agaves used and the incredible difference in the distillation process compared to the bourbon industry - but I would encourage people out there to try mezcal, but make sure that it is traditional mezcal, not the industrial that we'll see more and more and more in the months/years to come.

    If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to ask.

    Andrew Friedman
    andrew@libertybars.com
    Fabulous post, Andrew. Thanks very much. Like many others here in the US, my only experience with mezcal over the years involved consuming industrial quantities of Monte Alban and then waking up with a colossal hangover that lasted for roughly two days which eventually subsided after I puked/shat every ounce of liquid out of my body. More recently I picked up a bottle of Del Maguey Vida after reading various articles about it. The price was right and I enjoyed the bottle thoroughly but I wouldn't mind some affordable recommendations. Thanks again!
    "I distrust a man who says 'when.' He's got to be careful not to drink too much, because he's not to be trusted when he does." Sydney Greenstreet

 

 

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