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 allowed to be called "tequila" is produced solely from the Blue Weber agave and grown only in the designated areas of Jalisco or one of four neighboring states. But there are many other types of agaves in Mexico, such as Espadín, Manso, Cenizo, Arroqueño, the rare wild Tobalá, Madrecuixe, 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 and Guerrero in the south all the way central north to Zacatecas and Durango.

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, then slow-roasted in conical pits ("palenques") dug in the ground and lined with red-hot rocks with the top covered over by moist fibres, or in brick ovens. After cooking for a few days, the now caramelized piñas are crushed with a large stone wheel pulled by a horse or donkey, or pounded by hand with a mallet. The pulverized juice is transferred to wooden or cement vats for fermentation for about two weeks; then placed in rustic fire-burning clay or copper pot stills, and distilled twice or three times to bottling proof or close to it. The resulting spirit is distinctively very smoky, briny, deep and intense– similar to Islay single-malt scotch whiskey.

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. Because of the difficult cultivation of the agaves and limited production, a good mezcal is typically 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. Nowadays, aficionados usually consider a mezcal with a worm to be inferior in quality.

Slowly gaining on the heels of its cousin tequila, mezcals are now earning allegiance by serious connoisseurs, college students, mixologists and scotch drinkers. It is said that mezcal is "Mexico in a bottle”. We say, “Viva la mezcal revolución!”

 

The Fifty Best Mezcal Tasting of 2015

 

The Tasting:
The Fifty Best held a “blind” tasting of 13 mezcals with 18 pre-qualified judges. Jovens and Reposados were judged separately as 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 and Gold medals are awarded according to a set range of final point scores received from the judges. Due to the high scores overall, there were no silver or bronze medals awarded for this tasting.

The tasting notes which follow are summaries of the judging panels’ opinions, with all replicated commentary eliminated. The agave species are identified for each mezcal.


Here are the final results:



JOVEN

DOUBLE-GOLD MEDAL WINNERS:

Viejo Indecente - Madrecuixe
Agave Species: Madrecuixe

Nose: Green apples, apple cider, citrus, peach, cherries, dates, honey, creamy, nougat, honeyed herbs, herbal, grassy, sandalwood, dried herbs, cinnamon, licorice, peppercorns, white pepper, roasted pepper, habanero, mahogany, smoke.
Palate: Green apples, apple cider, citrus, peach, cherries, dates, honey, creamy, nougat, honeyed herbs, herbal, grassy, sandalwood, dried herbs, cinnamon, licorice, peppercorns, white pepper, roasted pepper, habanero, mahogany, smoke.
Finish: Layers of fruit, berries, white toffee, vanilla, creamy, spicy, peppery, agave, smooth, crisp, big and bold.

Double Gold Medal
Double Gold medal



Viejo Indecente Madrecuixe Joven Mezcal



Jaral de Berrio Joven Mezcal



Jaral de Berrio
Agave Species: Salmiana

Nose: Pralines, candy corn, cotton candy, spun white sugar, cream soda, toffee, honeydew, peach, tropical fruit, sweet floral notes, cinnamon, light herbal, anise, light plantain, olive, vegetative.
Palate: Pralines, caramel, honey, sweet cream, cream soda, peach puree, plantain, corn, dried fruit, lime zest, honeyed herb, gardenia, sweet mint, anise, vegetal tones, earthy agave, white pepper, spicy, briny, toasty, well balanced, pleasant.
Finish: Honeyed herb, creamy, sweet, peppery, jalapeño, grass, earth, mineral, clean, soft, tantalizing, elegant.


Double Gold Medal
Double Gold medal



Elixir del Corazón
Agave Species: Espadín

Nose: Vanilla, café au lait, whipped cream, cotton candy, caramel, nougat, sweet pastry, fig, pear, green apple, lemon, floral, mint, green grass, briny.
Palate: Sweet cream, creamy, vanilla, cream soda, honeyed herb, tropical flower, sweet corn, plantain, light toast, herbal, grass, jalapeño, smoky agave, toasted oak, balanced.
Finish: Pear, honey, hints of chocolate, herbs, mint, peppery, spice, silky, clean, exceptionally smooth.

Double Gold Medal
Double Gold medal



Elixir del Corazón Joven Mezcal



Sacrificio Joven Mezcal



GOLD MEDAL WINNERS:

Sacrificio
Agave Species: Espadín

Nose: Nougat, vanilla, caramel, hint of café au lait, baked plantain, popcorn, roasted agave, light olive, vegetal, chamomile, lemon zest, spearmint, wood barrel, smoky.
Palate: Pineapple, papaya, tangerine, dates, honey, roasted agave, rye, sandalwood, anise, spice, pepper, white pepper, tangy, light tobacco, wood, cedar, oak, smoke.
Finish: Light pear, agave, pepper, light herbs, spicy, embers, smoky, very soft, smooth, delicate, elegant, dry.

Gold Medal
Gold medal



Los Amantes
Agave Species: Tobala & Espadín

Nose: Vanilla, honey, honeyed herb, tropical fruit, baked apple, ripe pear, unripe banana, earthy agave, olive, grassy, dried herbs, sandalwood, hay, delicate.
Palate: Café au lait, caramel, honeysuckle, sweet fruit, peach puree, melon, agave, green olive, white pepper, floral, mint, white flour, light toast, silky, easy drinking.
Finish: Praline, sweet, butter, anise, sauterne-like, bright, crisp, elegant.

Gold Medal
Gold medal



Los Amantes Joven Mezcal



Alacrán Mezcal



Alacrán
Agave Species: Espadín

Nose: Pear, peach, banana, plantain, vanilla, buttery, creamy, licorice, lemony, earthy agave, pickled green beans, fresh cut grass, herbal, spicy, pepper, smoky.
Palate: Cream soda, vanilla, nougat, roasted agave, baked apple, herbaceous, grassy, floral, citrus-mint, touch of mint, rye, peppercorn, peppery, deep wood, smoky notes.
Finish: White toffee, hint of vanilla, a bit sweet, black pepper, peppery, spicy, herbaceous, floral notes, dry, smoky.


Gold Medal
Gold medal



Desaire Edicion Especial
Agave Species: Espadín

Nose: Baked apple, pineapple, apricot, sweet caramel, sweet cream, honey herb, citrus blossoms, tropical flower, lavender, sandalwood, olive, grassy, raw green beans, pickled jalapeño.
Palate: Honey, creamy, tropical fruits, plum, tarragon, grass, herb, sandalwood, tobacco, earthy, leather, mineral, briny, smoky.
Finish: Papaya, dried herbs, mint, light anise, olive, vegetal notes, pepper, light toast, light tobacco, wood, smoky, clean, smooth, dry.


Gold Medal
Gold medal



Desaire Edicion Especial Mezcal



Viejo Indecente Ensamble Madrecuixe & Espadin Joven Mezcal



Viejo Indecente - Madrecuixe/Espadin
Agave Species: Ensamble Madrecuixe & Espadín

Nose: Fig, dates, dried fruit, berries, pineapple, papaya, tropical, citrus, fresh green beans, olives, herbaceous, lavender, cardamom, minty, mustard seed, wheat, stony.
Palate: Tarragon, cinnamon, allspice, pepper, white pepper, honeyed herbs, pear, fig, ginger, mint, sandalwood, tobacco, earthy, slate.
Finish: Honey, buckwheat honey, tropical fruit, agave, touch of black pepper, spice, bright, hint of smoke, dry.


Gold Medal
Gold medal



Bosscal
Agave Species: Durangenesis

Nose: Earthy agave, roast pepper, plantain, fennel, anise, wheat grass, citrus, bright mint, chamomile, dried herbs, herbal, brine, mineral.
Palate: Fig, dried fruit, roasted agave, jalapeño, spice, dried herbs, floral, spearmint, earthy notes, ash, wood, bark, smoky, well balanced.
Finish: Pretty fruits, café au lait, earthy agave, herbs, cut grass, embers, smoky, super soft.


Gold Medal
Gold medal



Bosscal Joven Mezcal



Marqués Plata Mezcal



Marqués
Agave Species: Salmiana

Nose: White toffee, cream soda, honey, pineapple, rose, grassy, cut grass, mint, hints of anise, sandalwood, coffee, wet stones, white linen, dusty.
Palate: Papaya, orange peel, tangerine, poached pear, fresh fruit, cane sugar, toasted mint, spearmint, plantain, sweet corn, bell pepper, fennel, earthy agave, herbal, cut grass, white pepper, spice, smoky, crisp.
Finish: Orange, caramel, honeyed herbs, cinnamon, white pepper, jalapeño, clean, silky, smooth.

Gold Medal
Gold medal



REPOSADO

DOUBLE-GOLD MEDAL WINNERS:

Los Amantes
Agave Species: Tobala & Espadín

Nose: Golden cane sugar, honey, caramel, crisp apple, citrus, agave, plantain, white flower, toasted almond, toast, light leather.
Palate: Pineapple, papaya, banana, tropical fruit, fig, date, lemon meringue pie, honey, buttery, vanilla, nougat, toasted almond, light anise, agave, sandalwood, oak, woody, light smoke, balanced.
Finish: Dried herbs, dried fruit, subtle pear, creamy, soft, smooth, amazing.

Double Gold Medal
Double Gold medal



Los Amantes Resposado Mezcal



Marqués Reposado Mezcal



Marqués
Agave Species: Salmiana

Nose: Vanilla, white sugar, molasses, taffy, caramel, sweet cream, cinnamon, pineapple, honeysuckle, white rose, floral, light jasmine, citrus, spice, eucalyptus, light oak.
Palate: Cream soda, vanilla, honey, banana, tropical fruit, roasted agave, lime, citrus, tangy, cinnamon, spice, white pepper, slight pepper, bouquet of herbs, sandalwood, touch of wood, perfect wood, perfect smoke, well balanced, very appealing.
Finish: Caramel, vanilla, toast, mint, spicy, jalapeño, embers, lovely wood, soft, smooth, elegant, lingering, enjoyable, perfect, fantastic.

Double Gold Medal
Double Gold medal



GOLD MEDAL WINNER:

Sacrificio
Agave Species: Espadín

Nose: Fig, banana, exceptionally fruity, vanilla notes, bread, herbaceous, licorice, root.
Palate: Honey, nougat, dried fruit, plantain, anise, fennel, agave, soft vegetal notes, tangy, spice, clove, white pepper, black pepper, wood, toasted oak, smooth.
Finish: Creamy, vanilla, honeyed herb, light spice, very smooth, clean, just right, elegant.

Gold Medal
Gold medal



 Sacrificio Reposado Mezcal

 

 

 

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. March 9, 2015 9:43 AM - by: Federico
You are missing two best: ARREBATO and ZAUCO
 
 


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