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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. Too good to not mention over and over again!

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 but of course i haven´t tried them all – far from it – too far if you ask me…but 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… which transports you.

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:

Here`s first two new takes on two of my favorite mezcal cocktails  – well worth mixing up! The first i call “Fire and Brimstone” and is based on a cocktail that is called Matatlan Oax. The second cocktail is based on the cocktail Mayahuel and i call it Cocoa Raw as it has the oh so lovely pure cocoa spirit in it – Mozart Dry.

The first cocktail is peppery and fresh and the second is like its name – raw cocoa – and on the sweeter side but not too sweet. Both carries the lingering smokiness of the mezcal, and the first also contains tequila reposado.

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.

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.

COCOA RAW

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?

 

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10 comments to MEZCAL – Smoky Deliciousness

  • While I’m definitely intrigued, the price point scares me off, much like rhum agricole. In both cases, it’s tough to find anything that’s rated decently priced under $40/750 mL, which is usually too rich for my pocketbook.

  • Those all look so delicious Tiare! I’m on a tequila + mezcal kick right now, but have to make every drop count with the mezcals (since they cost so much here!)

  • Jordan and Janice, Del Maguey is coming out with a new product called Vida that is more affordable, you can read about it here – http://www.examiner.com/x-14072-Tequila-Examiner~y2010m6d2-Del-Maguey-releases-Mezcal-Vida–sipable-mixable-and-affordable

    Any good Mezcal, if these were sold here in my country would have cost at least the double from what they cost in the US..

    A way to make the drops last longer is to mix the mezcal with tequila in your cocktails. Really with mezcal, a little goes a long way as it contains so much flavor.

    And last…its a real handcrafted product.

  • Not to be a party pooper but that first taste of Mezcal was the last. It was pure poison. Or maybe I got a bad batch.

  • Hi Bill, it sounds to me like you got a bad mezcal. If i was you i would give it a second chance and try one of the good brands like Del Maguey or Illegal (the two good brands i`ve tried) Sadly a bad first experinece can put you off for a very long time.

    Then it also must be said, that mezcal does have a very special flavor and not everyone may like it, but if you got a bad batch it would be a pity if you never got to try the good one..

  • [...] is definitely in the running for one of my favorite spirits and with these four cocktail recipes, you’ll find yourself on a whole ‘nother plain of flavour. |A Mountain of Crushed [...]

  • Great list Tiare! We need to get you a bottle of our new mezcal, which just won the gold medal at the Spirits Of Mexico tasting competition, to be named the #1 Mezcal Joven. Email me your details and let’s see if we can get some over to you!
    And you can follow us here: http://www.facebook.com/LaPalabraMezcal

  • Thank you Scott, i have e-mailed you.

    Cheers!

    Tiare

  • Having tequila but no mezcal I’ve just made a Mayahuel with a Laphroaig rinse. It’s tatsy but I’m not noticing the coffee. Maybe overpowered by the smoke? With adjusted proportions I think I’ll be trying this one again (and again, and again etc).

    Thanks for the recipe Tiare!

  • Dagreb, thanks! you could always up the coffee a bit maybe? to suit your taste..;-) it`s a nice drink, i hope you can find a good mezcal to try!

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