Mezcal
stumbleupon
delicious
digg
facebook

Best Mezcal–
Rediscovered

Mezcal had mystical origins when the Zapotecs produced the beverage in Mexico centuries ago. Then it disappeared into relative obscurity until the 1960s; when hordes of American hippies & ex-Vietnam war vets journeyed down to Oaxaca in southern Mexico to escape conformity in their quest for transcendant hallucinogenic experiences. While there, the sampling of the local spirit was inevitable. And the agave worm at the bottom of the bottles only enhanced mezcal's mystique.

So what exactly is mezcal?
It was debated whether the Spaniards brought the distillation process to Mexico or if the indigenous tribes had the knowledge before the conquistadors got there. The Zapotec Indians were the first civilization to process agaves for clothes, food and drink– the oldest recorded site of this is El Palmillo in Santiago Matatlan, Oaxaca. The agaves were domesticated and harvested for food and fiber, and eventually pulque (a milky, slightly foamy, viscous beverage made by fermenting and not distilling the sap of certain types of agave). The original technique for distillation was shared with the Zapotecs by Filipino slaves freed by the Spanish in Mexico in the 1500s. They taught the Zapotecs to use clay pot stills and carrizo (Oaxacan bamboo) cooling tubes to distill fermented agave juice into Mezcal. Later, the Spanish put to use their alambique (which is a Spanish derivation of an Arab word for a distillation technique that was brought to Spain during the Moorish invasion).

The distilled spirit produced solely from the Blue Weber agave, and grown only in the designated areas of Jalisco or one of four neighboring states, is allowed to be called "tequila". But there are many other types of agaves in Mexico, such as Espadín, Manso, Cenizo, Arroqueño, the rare wild Tobalá, and more than 50 other subspecies. Several of these agaves are the pricipal ingredient in mezcal. Nine designated areas in Mexico are formally recognized to produce mezcals, including Oaxaca in the south all the way to Durango in the north central.

After 8 years of growth, the mature agaves are harvested and the leaves are cut off with a machete. The heart of the agave plant, or piñas, are halved and quartered, slow-roasted in conical pits ("palenques") dug in the ground lined with red-hot rocks and the top covered over with moist fibres. After cooking for a few days, the now caramelized piñas are crushed by a large stone wheel pulled by a horse or donkey. The pulverized juice is transferred to a vat for fermentation for about two weeks; then placed in rustic fire-burning clay or copper pot stills, and distilled twice to bottling proof or close to it. The resulting spirit is distinctively very smoky, briny, deep and intense– similar to Islay single-malt Scotches.

Mezcal bottled directly from the still is called blanco, plata ("silver") or joven ("young"). Reposado is aged in casks for two months up to one year, añejo if aged more than a year. Approximately seven tons of raw piña yields 265 gallons (1,000 liters), or 111 cases of mezcal. Most mezcaleros are single village, small-craft, artisanal producers, producing very limited quanties. A good mezcal is usually priced above $50.

The gusano, or "worm" is actually a larva that infests the agave plant. Originally used as an appellation control element, the worm does not serve any function other than as a marketing gimmick, although some producers claim that it slightly changes the flavor of the mezcal, adding a smoothness. Despite popular belief, consuming the worm is not hallucinogenic.

Long overdue, gaining on the heels of its cousin tequila, mezcals are increasing in popularity among connoisseurs, hipsters and college students. It is said that “mezcal is Mexico in a bottle”.
We say “viva la mezcal revolución!”

 

The Fifty Best Mezcal Tasting of 2014

 

The Tasting:
The Fifty Best held a “blind” tasting of 14 mezcals with 17 pre-qualified judges. Jovens, Reposados and Añejos were judged separately in three individual categories. Strict tasting rules were applied. The order of service was established beforehand by lottery. Each of the mezcals were poured into fresh glasses from new sealed bottles, and served at slightly above room temperature. Only ice water, neutral unflavored crackers and chips were available to cleanse the palate.

The judges wrote down their impressions of each product on score sheets. The scoring was done on a 5-point system, with 5 as the best. Double-Gold, Gold and Silver medals are awarded based on a set range of final point scores received from the judges. There were no bronze medals awarded for this tasting.

The tasting notes which follow are summaries of the judging panels’ opinions. The region of origin in Mexico and agave species are identified for each mezcal.

 

Here are the final results:



JOVEN

DOUBLE-GOLD MEDAL WINNER:

Mestizo
Joven

Region: Santiago Matatlán, Oaxaca
Agave Species: Espadín

Nose: Tropical fruit, banana, vanilla, butter, perfumed, floral, tropical flowers, hibiscus, sweet herbs, nutmeg, coffee, smoky.
Palate: Honey, dulcet tones, cane sugar, white toffee, nougat, creamy, caramel, herbal, spearmint, pepper, peppercorns, smooth, silky, light smoke, complex, well-balanced, silky, very nice, a pleasure.
Finish: Cocoa, incredibly smooth, expansive, long.

Double Gold Medal
Double Gold medal



Mestizo Joven Mezcal



Real Matlatl Tobala Joven Mezcal



GOLD MEDAL WINNERS:

Real Matlatl
Joven

Region: Santiago Matatlán, Oaxaca
Agave Species: Tobala

Nose:Banana, sweet berries, dried fruit, cinnamon, butter, cream, almost floral, briny, earthy, woody, lightly smoky.
Palate: Honey, hints of caramelized sugar, caramel, vanilla, creamy, sweet cream, cinnamon, mint, agave, pepper.
Finish: Oaky, toast, honey, licorice, peppery, long.


Gold Medal
Gold medal



Banhez
Joven

Region: San Agustín Amatengo and San Martín Lachiila, Ejutla de Crespo, Oaxaca
Agave Species: A blend of Espadín and Barril

Nose: Light cinnamon, honey, caramel, butterscotch hard candy, ripe banana peel, citrus, herbal, green vegetables, agave.
Palate: Praline, butter, caramel, riesling-like, smoky cedar, vegetal, light pepper, leather, tobacco, new wood, savory, ultra-smooth.
Finish: Clean, fresh, smooth, light, vanilla, elegant, long.

Gold Medal
Gold medal



Banhez Joven Mezcal



Desaire Joven Mezcal



Desaire
Joven

Region: Barrientos, La Pila, Oaxaca
Agave Species: A blend of Espadín and wild Bicuische

Nose: Fresh cut grass, plantain, mint, pepper, vegetative, lime, berries, faint vanilla, butterscotch, caramelized smoke.
Palate: Roasted sweet red bell pepper, hot pepper, green apple, herbal, anise, white flour, cream, floral, deep charcoal, rich wood smoke.
Finish: Peppery, tobacco, wood, soft, elegant, sweet, long.

Gold Medal
Gold medal



Jaral de Berrio
Joven

Region: San Felipe Torres Mochas, Guanajuato
Agave Species: Salmiana

Nose: Cafe au lait, cream, toffee, apples, pear, minty, almost pine, toasty.
Palate: Creamy, butternut, chocolate, dried fruit, fennel, spice, woody, rich, a pleasure.
Finish: Creamy, nougat, caramel, spice, grassy, dry, long.


Gold Medal
Gold medal



Jaral de Berrio Mezcal



Marca Negra Mezcal



Marca Negra
Joven

Region: San Juan del Rio, Oaxaca
Agave Species: Espadín

Nose: Tropical fruits, sweet banana, dried fruit, vanilla, butter, tree bark, roasted earth.
Palate: Dried herbs, sandalwood, anise, honey, praline, pepper, grassy, oak, very smoky, smooth.
Finish: Mellow, creamy vanilla, lavender, peaty scotch, smoke, builds up to late spice.


Gold Medal
Gold medal



SILVER MEDAL WINNER:

Alacrán

Joven

Region: San Dionisio, Oaxaca
Agave Species: Espadín

Nose: Vanilla, butterscotch, cola, spearmint, herbaceous, nutty, mushrooms, peppery, crisp, pleasant smoke.
Palate: Lemon, papaya, dates, anise, vegetal, mint, hot pepper, grassy undertones, honey, butter, earthy, wood, smoky, complex, rich.
Finish: Smoky, grassy, gentle spice, moderately sweet, long.


Silver Medal
Silver medal



Alacrán Mezcal



Aztecali Reposado Mezcal



REPOSADO

DOUBLE-GOLD MEDAL WINNER:

Aztecali
Reposado

Region: Zacatecas
Agave Species: Azul Tequilana Weber

Nose: Sweet cream, butter, butternut, buckwheat honey, nougat, fig, cola, slightly toasty, tobacco smoke.
Palate: Fig, nougat, praline, vanilla, butter, light coffee notes, hazelnut, straw, herbs, pepper, smooth, balanced, delicious.
Finish: Cherry almond, vanilla, nutty, hints of wood, crisp, long.

Double Gold Medal
Double Gold medal



GOLD MEDAL WINNERS:

Mestizo
Reposado

Region: Santiago Matatlán, Oaxaca
Agave Species: Espadín

Nose: Subtle lime, roasted pineapple, faint caramel, butterscotch, mineral, vegetative, bark, smoky.
Palate: Smoked tropical fruit, honey, dates, pepper, moss, Port-like, Madeira barrel, woody, smoke, tobacco.
Finish: Smooth, honey, starfruit, spicy, wood barrel.


Gold Medal
Gold medal



Mestizo Reposado Mezcal



Real Matlatl Reposado Mezcal



Real Matlatl
Reposado

Region: Santiago Matatlán, Oaxaca
Agave Species: Espadín

Nose: Vanilla, butter, wood sugars, cherry, earthy, mushroom, light mineral, refined.
Palate: Caramel, honey, brine, hot pepper, herbal, woodsy, earthy, agave, sweet, scotch-like, well-balanced.
Finish: Light spice, toast, smooth, rich, powerful, long.

Gold Medal
Gold medal



AÑEJO

DOUBLE-GOLD MEDAL WINNER:

Real Matlatl
Añejo

Region: Santiago Matatlán, Oaxaca
Agave Species: Espadín

Nose: Caramel, honey, butter, floral, jasmine, agave, smoky.
Palate: Vanilla, caramel, honey, sandalwood, floral, agave, pepper, briny, charred earth, impeccable.
Finish: Very smooth, sandalwood, caramel, spicy, smoke, short, awesome.

Double Gold Medal
Double Gold medal



Real Matlatl Añejo Mezcal



Los Amantes Añejo Mezcal



GOLD MEDAL WINNERS:

Los Amantes
Añejo

Region: Oaxaca
Agave Species: Tobala & Espadín

Nose: Butter, honeysuckle, vanilla, subtle cola, grass, herbal, agave.
Palate: Tarragon, peppercorn, hot pepper, honey, butter, caramel, herbal, earthy, charred oak, balanced.
Finish: Honey, jalapeño pepper, faint wood, smooth, complex, long.

Gold Medal
Gold medal



La Fogata
Añejo

Region: Oaxaca

Nose: Subtle lime, roasted pineapple, faint caramel, butterscotch, mineral, vegetative, bark, smoky.
Palate: Creamy vanilla, caramel, touch of cream, dried fruit, dates, soft eucalyptus, explosion of herbs, pink peppercorns, spice, hot pepper, smoked wood, elegante, magnifico.
Finish: Touch of wood, cedar, honey, smooth, long.


Gold Medal
Gold medal



La Fogata Mezcal



Mestizo Añejo Mezcal



Mestizo
Añejo

Region: Santiago Matatlán, Oaxaca
Agave Species: Espadín

Nose: Cinnamon, caramel, bell pepper, subtle tobacco, new tobacco leaf, faint oak, exceptionally clean.
Palate: Sweet spice, cinnamon, mint, caramel, fruity, dried fruit, smoked plum wine, roasted peppers, agave, tree bark, wheat.
Finish: Roasted peppers, dates, sugarcane, long.

Gold Medal
Gold medal

 

 

 

Disclaimer: This section of the website is intended for visitors 21 years of age and older.
If you are not of legal drinking age, please exit by clicking here.


Please drink responsibly!

Comments or questions welcome, please e-mail to: editor@thefiftybest.com

 

 

Comments and Suggestions:

 
Mon. June 2, 2014 4:31 PM - by: Carmen Amador
It was very interesting the information got a bit confusing by who was the first to do the destilation process. Is obvious is Mexican 100% can't be done without agave
 
 
Wed. January 22, 2014 11:54 AM - by: Manuel Gonzalez
Muy interesante la informacion del Mezcal, gracioas.
 
 


Add a comment or suggestion to this list.
*The following fields are required and must be filled in.
*Name:
*Subject:
*URL:
*email:
Email (for verification purposes only, will not be displayed):
Name:
Comment:

 
Sign up for a free account, or sign in if you are already a member.


Fifty Best > Spirits > Mezcal
© TheFiftyBest.com        home   |  Advertise   |  Privacy   |  Awards   |  Legal   |  About   |  Logos   |  Sign-Up   |  Contact       HappyViper