Housekeeping note: I did not post the usual Thursday recipe yesterday. For a change, I didn’t have the post ready to go a week prior, and the days leading up to Thanksgiving got a bit too full for me to get around to it. I’ll post that recipe on Saturday instead. Here, on schedule, however, is this week’s third booze post: the final post in my mini-run of mezcal reviews.
The first two were both Del Maguey releases: the Tobala on Monday and the Wild Tepextate on Wednesday. I liked both but the Tobala more than the other. Today’s offering is not not from Del Maguey but from an outfit named Quiquiriqui. This is a brand based in the UK that apparently works directly with producers in Oaxaca—though looking at their website, it’s hard to tell if they work with separate producers or just one family. Their range includes a number of pechugas: one made with mole (a la the Cinco Sentidos I reviewed earlier this year), one made with coffee, and this one which deploys cacao. I’m not sure how exactly this is done: are cacao beans hung over the still during the third distillation a la the traditional chicken or turkey? Are the cacao beans in addition to chicken/turkey or a replacement? If you know one way or the other, please write in below. Anyway, let’s see what it’s like. Continue reading
I began this week of mezcal reviews with Del Maguey’s Tobala, which I rather liked. Here now is another of their releases: Wild Tepextate. As per the Mezcal Reviews site the producer is the same as that of the Tobala, which means it’s also from Santa Maria Albarradas. Tepextate is also a variety of agave found at high altitudes—you’ll never guess but it grows wild. That pretty much exhausts my knowledge about this mezcal. Well, I can tell you it also costs in the neighbourhood of $100 in most parts of the US and that it is currently available in Minnesota for a bit more than that. Okay, let’s get to it.
Del Maguey, Wild Tepextate (45%; Lot: TEP 181; from a bottle split)
Nose: More acidic than the Tobala, with more of a mineral note as well. Otherwise, similar notes of lime, green chiles and salt with mild passionfruit. Some charred pineapple in there too. More savoury as it sits with a bit of ham brine joining the party. With a couple of drops of water the “green” notes recede and the savoury notes expand. Continue reading
This month I’ve already done a week of reviews of a category I don’t know very much about: bourbon. I’m now pleased to do a week of reviews of a category I know even less about: mezcal. I’ll be reviewing two mezcals from Del Maguey, the brand that has in recent years raised the profile of mezcal among whisky drinkers, and another from Quiquiriqui, a brand I had not heard of until I acquired a sample of it. First up, Del Maguey’s Tobala. It is named for the variety of agave from which it is is distilled. The tobala agave is much smaller variety than most others used to make mezcal, grows at high elevations, takes a long time to reach maturity, and apparently its yields too are quite low. All of this means mezcals made from tobala are typically more expensive. This Del Maguey iteration—which is a single village/town expression from Santa Maria Albarradas—goes for over $100, if you can find it. I’ve never had a tobala mezcal before, and so will not be able to tell you if this is a representative example of the varietal, but I’m curious to try it. Continue reading
This has been a week not just of mezcal reviews but of reviews of unusual mezcals. Wednesday’s Weller cask-finished Chichicapa from Del Maguey followed on the heels of Monday’s Del Maguey release that saw the pechuga process tweaked with the use of Iberico ham. I liked that one a lot more than the bourbon finish. That might be good news for this one which is in the general style of the Iberico but ups the pechuga madness by featuring not ham or chicken or turkey breast in the final distillation but full on mole poblano. This is not a Del Maguey release but from an outfit named Cinco Sentidos. Their website indicates that they release mezcals made by small-scale producers. I have no idea if this mole poblano release is representative or a wild variation on their usual line-up. Well, I love a good mole poblano but I can’t say I’ve ever wished I could drink a mole poblano-flavoured spirit. But perhaps the mole won’t come through here as strongly as the Iberico did in the Del Maguey. Only one way to find out. But however it goes, for my next round of mezcal reviews—whenever those might end up being posted; I have no further mezcal samples on hand—I think I am going to go for more regulation releases. Recommendations for any such will be very welcome in the comments below. Continue reading
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. Continue reading
Who better than someone who knows almost nothing about mezcals to do a week of reviews of mezcals? No one, that’s who. I’ve only reviewed one mezcal previously and have not tasted so very many more than that. The one I previously reviewed was bottled by Del Maguey, the brand that has probably more than any other raised the profile of mezcal in the US in the last decade, especially among whisky drinkers. They bottle single village mezcals made in traditional ways and have a sterling reputation. Well, this one—made in the village of Santa Catarina Minas—is both traditional and not. Traditional in that it is generally in the pechuga style, which sees a final round of distillation with a chicken or turkey breast hanging over the clay still (plus various fruits etc.). Not traditional in that in this case the chicken/turkey breast was replaced by an Iberico ham. This was apparently suggested to the proprietors by a chef who also sent them the ham to use. Perhaps the fact that it was Iberico ham accounts for the nosebleed price of this mezcal. I’m not sure if it was a one-off or if it’s continued to be made in limited quantities but if you want to buy a bottle now you’ll have to be prepared to shell out $200 or more. I’m not going to be prepared to do this, no matter what, but I am curious to see what it’s like. Continue reading
I know nothing about mezcal but I’m not going to let a little detail like that stop me from reviewing one anyway. This particular mezcal is one that a lot of whisky geeks have been gushing about for some time now—it apparently has a smoky quality quite reminiscent of Islay whiskies. It also has going for it the fact that it’s a mezcal from a single village, Chichicapa. Indeed, the bottlers, Del Maguey, release a number of single village mezcals, some priced rather extravagantly. I’ve not quite been able to bring myself to pull the trigger on a bottle, as it runs north of $60 in most markets, but thanks to a sample swap I’m able to finally check it out.
Del Maguey, Chichicapa (46%; single village mezcal; from a sample received in a swap)
Nose: Nail polish remover at first and strong whiffs of gasoline. Then quite a lot of peppery fruit begins to appear: melon, grapefruit. Some floral notes too and then expanding lime (peel). After a bit it gets quite creamy and custardy. With more time the fruit gets quite intense. Not much change with water.