A recent post highlighting an Australian Agave Project caught my attention lately.
Being a fan of Tequila & Mezcal – both Geographical Indicator protected terms specific to Mexico – I was intrigued to hear of an Australian company growing agave with the intention of releasing an agave spirit.
Whilst researching for my Whisky In Africa blog I also happened to come across a distillery in South Africa already marketing a Karoo Agave drink.
Both of these companies immediately attracted my attention.
Neither of them can use the terms ‘Tequila’ or ‘Mezcal’ – but that is essentially what they are making.
Using agave plants – which can be grown outside of Mexico – to make the spirits using similar techniques the results would make for a very interesting tasting.
Would you be able to discern the difference between the 3 drinks?
I’d certainly love to try them!
What about you?
Explanation of what a Geographical Indicator is from World Intellectual Property Organisation website here.
Anytime I pop over the Irish Sea I tend to use up my amazon.co.uk vouchers – which are otherwise worthless – & order up a bottle of spirits.
Rather than leave behind a partially drunk full-size offering the attractively designed Madre Mezcal 200ml caught my eye.
Made using 2 different styles of agave plant – Espadin & Cuishe – & roasted in earthen pits – Madre Mezcal is all about the raw ingredients & artisanal production methods used in this unaged spirit for the wonderful flavours to be enjoyed.
And what flavours they were!
An engaging soft smokiness off the nose. Not peaty – more earthy or woody like a gentle campfire.
Smooth & oily on the palate coating the mouth in subtle herbal agave notes.
A flourish of warming heat on the finish where the dry & slightly prickly smoke reappeared leaving the embers slowly drifting away.
A well rounded & finely balanced Mezcal offering a delicately smoked agave rich introduction to the flavourful charms of this wholesome spirit.
Mezcal – the artisanal spirit from Mexico that’s attracting attention right now.
Already a convert – mainly due to the smokey element – I eagerly signed up for the Celtic Whiskey Bar & Larder Zoom Tasting with Del Maguey Mezcal.
The 1st offering – Vida Mezcal, 42% – immediately satisfied. A seductive smokiness combined with those rich earthy agave notes reeled me in!
Chichicapa Mezcal, 46%, dialed down the smoke a touch & ramped up the pungent agave along with a prickly dryness on the finish from the higher ABV.
Unlike the whiskey world – which for some is all about the wood to bring about complexity & flavour – Mezcal is all about the raw ingredients & production methods used to deliver a fully flavoured spirit with depth & complexity straight from the still.
Tobala Mezcal, 45%, shone in this department. Using a roast time of 30 days accentuated the rich smokiness. A long fermentation of up to a week brought out some cheesy funky notes & using the A. potatorum agave species added pungent earthy overtones.
Certainly the Mezcal that enamoured me the most!
Pichuga Mezcal, 49%, rounded the evening off.
Compared to the others there was less smoke evident – but those engaging earthy agave aromas entertained me no end.
The Del Maguey website is packed full of information on these single village mezcals.
If you haven’t ventured into Mezcal yet – you won’t go far wrong enjoying any of the above.
I first became acquainted with Mezcal doing a Level 2 Spirits Award at the WSET – Wine & Spirit Education Trust.
There is long and proud tradition of spirit production in Mexico that parallels that of whiskey manufacture in Ireland or Scotland. There are rules & regulations to get any spirit geek excited – and it certainly helps I was hooked immediately by the rich & complex flavours contained within the Mezcals I tasted.
Terroir is key to Mezcal.
Geographically protected to certain regions within Mexico & made with varietals of the long lived agave plant, Mezcal is the artisanal based small scale product to the mass produced sister spirit Tequila.
The 2 Mezcal Amores sent showcased the results of 2 different varietals of agave with the same production methods.
Joven in both these expressions means unaged.
With a spirit as pure and unadulterated as Mexcal – no ageing is required.
Espadín Amores – as suggested in the name – is made from the Espadín agave which must be used to make Tequila – but Mezcal can use any variety of agave.
There is no harsh abrasiveness to this spirit.
It gently warms & caresses both the nose & palate with a richness of flavours.
A gentle soft sweetness combined with hints of leather or even tobacco from the roasting used to prepare the agave swirl around in the mouth in a comforting snug.
Lip smackingly enjoyable.
Cupreata Amores was even better!
Made from the Cupreata agave which matures for 8 to 13 years before being harvested. This mezcal possessed a deeper – even darker – cornucopia of complexity to hook me in even further to the charms of this Mexican spirit.
There was a contrast to the almost muscovado dark sweetness at the start to a warming stewed note at the end.
Wild yeasts are used in fermenting – much like the popular Brett yeasts of craft beer fame – but without the sour tart results – funky perhaps – but not overpowering – just well balanced & enticing.
I had to have more!
No wonder there is a fan club as fanatical as whiskey has for this fabulous spirit.
One of the most innovative & interesting new whiskeys I managed to sample at the recent Whiskey Live Dublin event was a 10 year old grain finished in ex-Mezcal casks.
Mezcal might not be familiar to many – I only recently sampled one myself – hence I thought it timely to explore this drink.
Mezcal is a distilled spirit made from the agave plant. It has Geographical Indication status and must be made in Mexico.
Mezcal has a long history & tradition involving roasting pits to process the raw agave. The addition of agave fibres to boost flavour during fermentation and distillation in pot stills made of clay – at least for the highest grade of Ancestral Mezcal.
The Monte Alban before me would be an entry level Mezcal – it’s all I could find at my local store – and is produced in Mexico for the Sazerac group.
The nose is very pungent with heavy deep earthy notes complimented by a mere wisp of smoke.
Very smooth & approachable on the palate. The earthy aromas dominate in an oily mouthfeel which slowly dries out leaving a lovely ash laden quality on the long finish.
I found this a very satisfying and intriguing spirit.
One that pulls me in.
I’m certainly looking forward to seeing what Mezcal flavours come through in the final mix of the retail version Mezcal finished Irish Whiskey from JJ Corry.