MEZCAL – Smoky Deliciousness

The nose of the mezcal reaches me, its earhty…and smoky…but not overwelmingly so – in a pleasant way it invites you to take a sip.

I have written about mezcal before but i feel its time again, its such a nice and interesting spirit. 

The first time I tasted mezcal i knew it would have a smoky taste almost like a scotch, I also knew it was made form the agave plant – maguey and that it differs from how tequila is made in that the hearts of the agave plants are roasted in a underground owen and it´s that which gives the mezcal its smoky flavour. I wasn´t prepared though for the whole array of complex delisciousness that smooth like silk found its way to every part of my palate.

The whole process in making mezcal is very old, about 400 years and every step is time consuming as its made by hand and mezcal is a real slow-food product – this is how flavour is made. Its every step in the process from harvesting the heavy agave plants to roasting, fermenting and distilling.

There are many factors that affects the the final product –  altitude, water, air-microbes and finally the most important thing – time – that creates these amazing flavours – and the hand of the maker who adds their personal touch to their mezcal. An experienced mezcal taster can by the flavour of a mezcal tell in which single village it was made and by whom.

Mezcal (mes-kal) generally refers to all agave-based distilled liquors that are not tequila.Tequila is made only from the blue agave plant.Mezcals are made from 100% agave while tequilas must be produced from a minimum of 51% agave and there are several different varietes of agave used each producing a different flavor of mezcal. Espadín agave is used in the making of about 90% of the mezcal.

The word mezcal means “cooked maguey” and the word maguey is synonymous with agave which contrary to many beliefs isn´t a cactus but a relative to the Lily and Amaryllis.

There are several types of mezcal, and there is a broad range of quality in terms of smoothness, flavor nuances and smokiness. I have tried both good and bad mezcals and of those i`ve had the pleasure to enjoy I would recommend Del Maguey and Ilegal, their products are smooth and very tasty. Ilegal makes outstanding small batch handcrafted mezcal and Del Maguey makes equally outstanding mezcals from different tiny remote villages in the state of Oaxaca, Mexico. Each Del Maguey mezcal carries the name of the village where its produced.

What makes mezcal so special is that is so unique.There´s no other spirit that tastes anything like it and its also very regional. A well made mezcal doesn´t have a straight forward or offensive smokiness – rather its a light smokiness that lingers in the background and gently makes itself known backed up by a very complex orchestra of distinct earthy-spicy fruity and herbal flavours.

And then there´s something mysterious in the feel about mezcal, something ancient…

Its traditionally enjoyed neat but it also mixes very well –  especially in fresh fruit and spicy drinks. Mezcal has been suffering from the myth of the worm for a long time, but in the top shelf brands i`ve tried there´s no need for any worm in the bottle and you`ll not find any.

With this i have here four cocktails you can try:

 

 

MATATLAN OAX

mezcal-matatlan-oax

1 oz mezcal

1 oz passionfruit juice

1/4 oz grenadine

1/4 oz orgeat

sprinkle of fresh lime

Garnish with a sugar rim

Rim the glass, then add everything except grenadine to a shaker and shake over ice, strain and pour into tumbler filled with fresh crushed ice and a few lime quarters. Add a splash of grenadine.

RAW & SWEET

cocoa-raw

1.5 oz mezcal

0.75 oz pineapple juice

0.5 oz Mozart Dry cocoa spirit or if you can`t find it, use coffee liqueur

1/4 oz orgeat

Shake and strain into a tumbler with crushed ice. Garnish with lime and mint.

Oh how the Mozart Dry makes this one taste special! Its the taste of pure cocoa without being cloingly sweet and it pairs really well with the mezcal.

MAYAHUEL

mezcal-mayahuel

1 oz mezcal

0.75 oz pineapple juice

1 barspoon coffee liqueur

1/4 oz orgeat

Shake and strain into a tumbler with crushed ice. For garnish i used a pineapple spear, zest of limequat and brandied cherry.

Btw did i mention that mezcal cocktails and spicy deep fried shrimps is a perfect match?

FIRE AND BRIMSTONE

fire-and-brimstone

1 oz mezcal

1 oz tequila reposado

0.25 oz homemade hibiscus grenadine

0.25 oz orgeat, homemade too – by Trader Tiki!

0.5 oz fresh lime

0.5 small red chili pepper to muddle, cut in 4 pieces

Gently muddle the chili pepper with lime juice and orgeat and then add everything else except grenadine to a shaker and shake over ice, strain and pour into a tumbler filled with fresh crushed ice. Add grenadine and garnish with pieces of red chili pepper on top of the crushed ice and fresh mint.