Best Mezcal
 

Best Mezcal

The Fifty Best Mezcal Tasting 2021

 

The Tasting:
The Fifty Best held a “blind” tasting of 18 mezcals with fourteen members of our spirits judging panel. The order of service was established beforehand by lottery. Strict tasting rules were applied. Each of the mezcals were poured into fresh glasses from new sealed bottles and served at room temperature. Only ice water, neutral unflavored crackers and chips were available to cleanse the palate.

The judges wrote down their impressions on score sheets. The scoring was done on a 5-point system, with 5 as the highest. Double Gold, Gold and Silver medals are awarded according to a set range of final point scores received from the judges. There were no Bronze medals awarded for this tasting. Medals are provided based entirely on merit and only to products judged worthy of such award.

The tasting notes that follow are summaries of the judges’ opinions, with all replicated commentary eliminated. The agave species and municipalities of origin are identified for each mezcal. Clicking on the brands' names will link to their websites.


DOUBLE-GOLD MEDAL WINNERS

GEM&BOLT Mezcal Artesanal
Agave Species: Espadin & Damiana
(Oaxaca) 88° proof

Nose: Baked upside down pineapple cake, cream, sweet orange, citrus, smoked maple syrup, mint, spearmint, licorice, orange blossom, magnolia, green olives, allspice, oregano, pepper, bread, canvas, leather, briny, bark, mesquite BBQ, bellows of smoke.
Palate: Baked apple, pineapple, tropical fruit, lime peel, citrus, brown batter, maple syrup, candy cane, roasted corn, raw juniper berries, coffee beans, herbal, mint, peppermint, pimento, jalapeño, peppery, habanero pepper, smoked brisket, earth, stone, briny, earthy char, charcoal, campfire, smoke, nicely blended, smooth.
Finish: Smoked papaya, lime/lemon, citrus, blueberry, honey, light vegetal, pine, charred pepper, sweet with a bite, mineral, saline, dry earth, silky, smooth, bold, rich, easy to drink straight, tantalizing, pleasant.


Double Gold Medal
Double Gold medal



GEM&BOLT Mezcal Artesanal



Se Busca Mezcal Artesanal Reposado
Agave Species: Espadín
(Oaxaca) 80° proof

Aroma: Vanilla, toasted vanilla, vanilla cream, nougat, toffee, caramel, pan-browned sugar, brown sugar, maple syrup, honey, bitter chocolate, hazelnut, nutty, delicate floral notes, berry, orange peel, tannin, subtle wood, oaky, bourbon barrel.
Palate: Caramel, toffee, creamy, sweet cream, cream soda, vanilla, maple, honey, caramelized bananas, dried fig, caramel spice, cinnamon, hint of tarragon, peppercorn, peppery, smoke, charred oak, wood, oak, very explosive mix, nicely balanced, bourbon-like, easy-drinking.
Finish: Caramel, smoky caramel, lingering vanilla, cacao, honey, Bananas Foster, coffee, nutty, nutmeg, clove, cinnamon, subtle spice, light pepper, peppered maple, smoke, oak dominant, pleasantly sweet, soft, smooth, well made, perfect, delightful, delicious.

Double Gold Medal
Double Gold medal



Se Busca Mezcal Artesanal Reposado



GOLD MEDAL WINNERS

Amarás Mezcal Artesanal Joven
Agave Species: Cupreata
(Guerrero) 80° proof

Aroma: Bing cherries, blackberry, stone fruit, cassis, grape, ripe banana, tropical fruit, pear, green apple, roasted apple, smoky sugarcane, jammy, bubble gum, herbal, honeyed herbs, banana leaf, vegetal, pepper, mulch, sweet pickle brine, new sawn oak, inviting.
Palate: Caramel, dark brown sugar, cream soda, creamy, sweet plantains, papaya, pomegranate, green mango, watermelon gum, lemon zest, citrus, root beer, roasted agave, bamboo, green bell pepper, vegetal, minty, floral, herbal, sandalwood, peppercorn, complex spices, leather, brine, mineral, char notes, gentle smoke, nicely balanced, it’s got everything.
Finish: Tropical fruit, watermelon hard candy, lemon, spiced citrus, mint, menthol, light agave, green pepper, pepper, charcoal, smoky, lots of body, well balanced, super interesting, flavorful, rich, smooth, delicious.

Gold Medal
Gold medal




Amarás Mezcal Artesanal Joven Cupreata



Perro de San Juan Mezcal
Agave Species: Espadín
(Oaxaca) 84.8° proof

Aroma: Agave, fresh agave, charred agave, roasted pineapple, subtle citrus, herbaceous, vegetal, grassy, eucalyptus, pine forest, briny, smoky, lightly buttery, classic.
Palate: Agave, sweet agave, charred pineapple, black cherry, honey, dried fruit, dried lemon, pleasantly vegetal, herbal, autumn leaves, textile, leathery, briny, nice smoke, woody, very smooth, rich.
Finish: Bittersweet chocolate, lingering agave, banana peel, vegetal, herbal, grassy, eucalyptus, spicy, smoky, oak barrel, beautifully balanced, smooth, creamy, velvety, delightful, elegant.

Gold Medal
Gold medal



Perro de San Juan Mezcal Espadin



El Tinieblo Mezcal Artesanal Joven
Edicion Especial #3

Agave Species: Salmiana & Estoquillo
(Tamaulipas) 90° proof

Aroma: Sweet melon, green apple, baked apple, fermented fruit, smoked molasses, smoky flowers, floral, agave, mushroom, vegetal, herbal, tarragon, black oil, earthy, brine, roasted beer can chicken, ham, smoked pork belly, smoked meat, mesquite BBQ, BBQ pit, smoky, funky, rum, agricole.
Palate: Shimmer of woody vanilla, delightful sweet cream, honey, tart berries, lemon, citrus, lemon mint, grassy, fennel, juniper, roasted pepper, peppercorn, white pepper, herbal, salty, saline, mineral oil, earth, roasted meat, deep char, smoke, balanced, rich.
Finish: Creamy nougat, honey, licorice, anise, mint, lime, citrus, dried fruity herbs, bitter herbs, vegetal, pepper, spicy, mineral oil, earth, smoked brisket, smoky, smooth.

Gold Medal
Gold medal



El Tinieblo Mezcal Artesanal Joven Edicion Especial #3



Perro de San Juan Mezcal
Agave Species: Cirial
(Oaxaca) 85° proof

Aroma: Green pepper, vegetal, grassy, aloe, cactus, smoky agave, peppercorns, mineral, wet stone, earth, saline, lightly roasted, char, smoke, clean, bright.
Palate: Melon, apple, fig, raisin, herbal, hint of spearmint, lemongrass, grass, fresh peas, fresh veggies, vegetal, peppery citrus, smoked agave, leather, earthy, saline, wet wood, forest floor, fresh cut wood, a hint of smoke, very smooth.
Finish: Cooked pear, sweet piña, green apple, grassy, freshly cut grass, tobacco leaves, fresh cut wood, earthy, briny. smoke, aquavit-like, smooth, clean, crisp, interesting, pleasant.

Gold Medal
Gold medal



Perro de San Juan Mezcal Cirial



Se Busca Mezcal Artesanal Añejo
Agave Species: Espadín
(Oaxaca) 80° proof

Aroma: Rich caramel, toffee, butterscotch, nougat, vanilla, cream, molasses, dark sugar, Log Cabin syrup, honey, cappuccino, chicory coffee, charred orange, coffee liqueur, herbal, nutmeg, ham, oak.
Palate: Caramel, toffee, milk chocolate, cocoa, cacao, burnt sugar, nougat, vanilla, crème, sweet cream, spicy syrup, baked apple, vanilla bourbon, coffee liqueur, milk coffee, coffee, chicory, almond, nut, clove, complex grassy notes, smoked, char, oak, extra smooth, creamy.
Finish: Butterscotch, vanilla, cacao, coffee, cold brew, smooth hazelnut, toasted nuts, light pepper spice, earthy, a touch of smoke, oak dominant, balanced, well made, soft, delicious, amazing, perfect.

Gold Medal
Gold medal



Se Busca Mezcal Artesanal Añejo



El Tinieblo Mezcal Artesanal Añejo
Agave Species: Espadín
(Tamaulipas) 80° proof

Aroma: Caramel, toffee, cocoa, dark chocolate, vanilla, creamy vanilla, dark cherry, tart apple, mint, charred grapefruit, charred pineapple, earth, agave, baked agave, cooked piña, fire pit, BBQ meat, smoked meat, smoky, mesquite BBQ, charred mesquite, oak, charred oak.
Palate: Toffee, coffee, dark chocolate, honey, dried fruits, sour cherry, lemon peel, citrus, mint, herb, agave, coffee, spice, brine, super char, balanced smoke, smoked cherry wood, woody, oak, clean, funky, rich.
Finish: Dark chocolate, creamy, touch of vanilla, baked cobbler, orange citrus, baking spices, pepper, bacon, smoky, wood fire, oak, balanced, crisp, different, interesting.

Gold Medal
Gold medal



El Tinieblo Mezcal Artesanal Añejo



Ojo de Tigre Mezcal Artesanal Joven
Agave Species: Espadín & Tobalá
(Oaxaca) 80° proof

Aroma: Vanilla, toasted vanilla, coffee cake, sweet corn, cereal grains, cinnamon crisps, charred Pez candy, watermelon, pear, citrus, lightly floral, agave, mint, mineral, clay, wet stone, faint wood, light mesquite, smoke.
Palate: Caramel, dark sugar, smoked sugar cane, vanilla, peaches & cream, sweet smoked cream, honey, pineapple, pear, apple, hints of citrus, burnt fruit, roasted corn, roasted vegetables, herbal, anise, grass, mint, peppermint, spice, pepper, toasted peppercorn, white pepper, mocha coffee, tobacco, earth, mineral, smoke, well blended..
Finish: Sweet cream, pastry dough, brown sugar, orange peel, citrus, flowers on a summer breeze, mellow sandalwood, mint, pepper, vegetal, wet stone, slight char, smoke, wood, very balanced, zesty.

Gold Medal
Gold medal



Ojo de Tigre Mezcal Artesanal Joven



SILVER MEDAL WINNERS

Verde Momento Mezcal Artesanal Joven
Agave Species: Espadín
(Oaxaca) 86° proof

Aroma: Milk chocolate, vanilla, honeycomb, charred pineapple, ripe tropical fruits, canned pears, lime, citrus, charred avocado, light roasted agave, earthy agave, mountain floral, herbaceous, river rocks, mineral, earthy, sap, smoky, woody, clean.
Palate: Vanilla, sweet cream, guava, banana, pineapple, lime, bright citrus notes, tropically floral, juniper, herbal, herbs, mint, anise, roasted pepper, bell pepper, pepper, saline, briny, bog, peat moss, clay, char, smoky, smoked hickory chips, woody, spicy oak, creamy, smooth.
Finish: Earthy agave, mint, citrus, vegetal, spicy, peppery, white pepper, tobacco leaf, sandalwood, earthy, slate, wet stone, lingering char, clean, crisp, bold, silky mouth feel, smooth, pretty.

Silver Medal
Silver medal



Verde Momento Mezcal Artesanal Joven



Perro de San Juan Mezcal con Grana Cochinilla
Agave Species: Espadín
(Oaxaca) 84.6° proof

Aroma: Vanilla, pear, citrus, rose petal, roses, herbal, mint, anise, vegetal, cinnamon, mineral, smoke.
Palate: Ripe banana, nice citrus, juniper, smoked agave, vegetal, anise, cut grass, mint, cinnamon, stick, peppercorns, textile, brine, earthy, smoky, wood, smooth, elegant.
Finish: Grassy, a touch of mint, chicken bouillon, meaty, pleasant smoke, scotch-like, smooth, soft, interesting, elegant.

Silver Medal
Silver medal



Perro de San Juan Mezcal Espadin con Grana Cochinilla



El Tinieblo Mezcal Artesanal Joven
Agave Species: Espadín, Salmiana & Tequilana
(Tamaulipas) 80° proof

Aroma: Roasted banana, sweet plantain, buttery, orange rinds, citrus, green pepper, mint, herbal, herbaceous, peppery, vegetal, banana leaf, fermented, brine, earth, red soil, tobacco, mesquite, potent smoke.
Palate: Toasted pineapple, dried plums, lime, citrus, juniper, anise, mint, smoked spearmint, extremely herbaceous, basil, cilantro, leafy, sharp pepper, mineral oil, musty, earth, sand, soil, wood, matchbook, charcoal, smoky.
Finish: Dried apricot, lime, mint, herbaceous, spiced, white pepper, peppery, mineral oil, BBQ’d pork, BBQ pit, smoke, campfire, clean, smooth, smoked mojito, great for cocktails, fun.

Silver Medal
Silver medal



El Tinieblo Mezcal Artesanal Joven



El Tinieblo Mezcal Artesanal Reposado
Agave Species: Espadín, Salmiana, Tequilana & Sierrudo
(Tamaulipas) 80° proof

Aroma: Butterscotch, toffee, caramel, buttery, brown sugar, vanilla, vanilla cream, vanilla wafer, cream, cream soda, honey, tropical fruit, dried fruit, fermented coconut, citrus, floral, herbal, allspice, nutmeg, sweet vegetal notes, tannin, brine, earthy, soil, mesquite smoke, oak, woody.
Palate: Vanilla, vanilla cookies, nougat, honey, creamy, sweet cream, peach ice cream, Creamsicle, orange, citrus, hint of mint, nutty notes, hops, pepper, smoked pepper, BBQ beef, smoke, oak, wood, well balanced, funky, bright, bold.
Finish: Caramel, honey, smoked pineapple cake, citrus, mint, cumin, oregano, spicy, peppery, hops, roasted agave, bacon, charred pork belly, smoke, earth, balanced, smooth, silky, pleasant.

Silver Medal
Silver medal



El Tinieblo Mezcal Artesanal Reposado



Prolijo Mezcal Artesanal Pechuga
Agave Species: Espadín
(Oaxaca) 96° proof

Aroma: Roasted pineapple, smoked fruit gum, apple, pear, bright citrus, vanilla, cream, cream soda, brown sugar, root beer, honey, sweet corn, plantain, vegetal, herbs, dried herbs, mint, green leaves, lightly floral, kurkuma, allspice, thyme, clove, spiced mulled wine, brine, earthy, woody, smoke, slight funk.
Palate: Vanilla, clotted cream, caramel, berry, citrus, herbal, spearmint, mint, anise, fennel, licorice, tea tree oil, grassy, laurel, thyme, cinnamon, spice, green peppercorn, pepper, white pepper, wood, oaky, hints of smoke, funky notes, bright.
Finish: Roasted pineapple, citrus, grass, licorice, vegetal, cinnamon, baking spices, peppery, white pepper, tea tree oil, earthy, smoke, smoked wood fire, well balanced, very clean, complex, extra smooth, great, delightful.

Silver Medal
Silver medal



Prolijo Mezcal Artesanal Pechuga



Doña Vega Mezcal Artesanal Joven
Agave Species: Espadín
(Oaxaca) 86° proof

Aroma: Vanilla, cane sugar, honey, anisette candy, raisins, papaya, stone fruit, plantain, roasted corn, banana peel, lime, mixed citrus, dill, mint leaves, tropical herbs, smoked herbs, earthy, gravel, wet stone bog, briny, BBQ, mesquite, sweet smoke, redwood.
Palate: Pear, lime, lime juice, dried fruit, corn, almond, honeyed herb, herbal, anise, licorice, mint, spearmint, tomato leaf, pepper, spicy, fern, moss, earthy, hints of wet gravel, clay pot, peppered oak, char, sweet smoke, smoky, clean, crisp.
Finish: Earthy agave, pineapple, lemon, lime, anise, mint tea, white pepper, lingering spice, spicy pine, wood, black barrel, smoke, well-balanced, big, clean, crisp.

Silver Medal
Silver medal



Doña Vega Mezcal Artesanal Joven



Amarás Mezcal Artesanal Reposado
Agave Species: Espadín
(Oaxaca) 80° proof

Aroma: Rich caramel, milk chocolate, white chocolate, vanilla, sweet cream, maple syrup, sweet dried fruits, baked pineapple, charred grapefruit, wildflowers, flowers, mint, mixed bean, cooked agave, French bread, oak, meat, ham, bacon, chicken skin.
Palate: Caramel, vanilla taffy, vanilla, vanilla cake, nougat, cream soda, honey, sweet spiced apple, green apple, tangerine, orange citrus, roasted lime, grassy, sweet mint, basil, juniper, cacao, coffee, spicy, white pepper, black pepper, soft brine, smoked salt, light smoke, charred oak, smoked margarita, balanced, soft, funky.
Finish: Coffee, cold brew, cacao, toasted nuts, honey, sweet allspice, spice, mint, pepper, chicken leg, light earth, charcoal, light smoke, clean, crisp, smooth, savory, great.

Silver Medal
Silver medal



Amarás Mezcal Artesanal Reposado



Se Busca Mezcal Artesanal Joven
Agave Species: Espadín
(Oaxaca) 80° proof

Aroma: Stone fruit, lively citrus, dried fruit, cane sugar, clotted cream, chocolate powder, sweet agave, rich agave, cactus, herbal, fresh cut grass, vegetal, spicy, saline, faint earth, soft mesquite, light smoke.
Palate: Sweet toffee, maple syrup, vanilla, sweet cream, lemon curd, apricot, smoked honeydew melon, honey herb, green pepper, green olive, light olive oil, grassy, toasted pecans, hint of salt, earthy, sweet smoke, smoky, BBQ, woody notes, oak, complex, rich, creamy.
Finish: Caramel, earthy agave, roasted agave, roasted pepper, green beans, green bell pepper, vegetal, tarragon, sandalwood, spice, tart apple, wet stone, clean, smooth, well balanced, flavorful.

Silver Medal
Silver medal



Se Busca Mezcal Artesanal Joven Espadin



Se Busca Mezcal Artesanal Joven
Agave Species: Madrecuishe
(Oaxaca) 90° proof

Aroma: Vanilla, creamy vanilla, clotted cream, taffy, gummy bear, fermented pineapple, pear, fresh cut tropical fruit, lightly floral, herbal, walnuts, potato chip, shitake mushroom, earthy, rich soil, dirt, mulch, funkiness, rum Agricole.
Palate: Cacao, dry cocoa, dark chocolate bar, dark sugars, vanilla, sweet cream, creamy, burnt papaya, pineapple, pear, green apple, sour sop, lime juice, fruit gum, floral, grassy, mint, spearmint, fennel, green bell pepper, coffee, brine, wormwood, smoke.
Finish: 90% cacao bar, dried plum, honey, sweet dill, citrus, mint, earthy agave, capers, lemon spice, lingering spice, smoked coffee beans, mesquite, char, charcoal, wood, oak, sweet funk, rich, crisp, interesting.

Silver Medal
Silver medal



Se Busca Mezcal Artesanal Joven Madrecuishe

 

 


 

Mezcal had mystical origins when the Aztecs produced the beverage in Mexico centuries ago. 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).

In the 1500s, the Spanish 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). It is still debated whether the Spaniards brought the distillation process to Mexico or if the indigenous tribes had the knowledge before the conquistadors got there.

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 principal ingredients 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 roots of the agave plant. Originally used as an appellation control element, the worm does not serve any function other than as a marketing gimmick. However, some experts claim that the worm definitely adds flavor to the mezcal. Despite popular belief, consuming the worm is non-hallucinogenic. Nowadays, aficionados 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, hipsters and mixologists. It can be said that mezcal is "Mexico in a bottle”.

 

 

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!