Mezcal week rolls on with another Del Maguey release. Monday’s was an unusual take on pechuga maturation from Santa Catarina Minas and involved an Iberico ham. This one, which does not, as far as I know, involve any meat products in the distillation is from Chichicapa, the source of the first mezcal I reviewed and a very popular Del Maguey marque. Unlike the regular Chichicapa, however, this one is aged for a bit. As you might be able to tell from the tiny picture alongside, its colour is a pale urine yellow compared to the very well-hydrated clear of the other two mezcal samples behind it. This faint colour is due to a finish/brief maturation in bourbon casks. And not just any casks but casks that had previously held spirit that went into Old Rip Van Winkle 10. A cynical read of this situation is that it seems to have been designed precisely to separate bourbon drinkers with more money than sense—which these days appears to be a good description of almost all bourbon drinkers—from a good chunk of that money. Well, I don’t know how much this cost on release but it now goes for well above $200. But is it any good? Does anybody really want their mezcal to taste like bourbon? Let’s see.
Del Maguey Chichicapa, Weller Cask Finish (46%; from a bottle split)
Nose: Comes in spicy with green chiles and pepper with salted limes coming up strong from below—and there’s some rock salt mixed in there. Really, it smells like a salt rimmed margarita. Water pushes the lime back a bit and leaves the salt and the green chiles.
Palate: More mellow here: not as salty or spicy. The oak is palpable. Feels a little underpowered at 46%; the texture is fine though. As it sits it gets a bit sweeter with a bite of vanilla showing up. Water washes it out further.
Finish: Long. But not very intense: the spices are muted here too and the sweeter notes continue. Some oaky bitterness at the end. Nothing interesting here either with water.
Comments: I’m the first to admit I don’t know much about mezcal but this very much tastes to me like a mezcal with all the character sanded down by the bourbon cask finish. I liked the nose a fair bit but the palate is almost bland by mezcal standards and the influence of the bourbon cask doesn’t seem to have brought anything interesting to the table. It’s drinkable enough and I would not turn down a pour but this is not one I wish I had a whole bottle of.
Rating: 82 points.