Tag Archives: Agave

Del Maguey Mezcal Tasting, 42% to 49%.

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!

Gorgeous!

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.

A quintessential Mezcal quartet!

Sláinte

Bottle images courtesy Celtic Whiskey Shop

Agavales, Blanco Tequila, 35%

As it’s Day Of The Dead – I thought a Mexican Tequila would be in order to celebrate all those that have gone before.

Agavales Blanco c/othewhiskeynut

Part of my miniature haul purchased back at the start of the pandemic – Agavales Blanco is a 100% Agave from a distillery in Jalisco – NOM 1438 – that produces many brands.

Classic clear colourless blanco.

Prominent & pleasing agave pungency.

A tad soft & easy on the palate – which may reflect the 35% ABV.

Opens up on the finish with prickly peppery spice & an enlivening bite too!

A toast to the dead! c/othewhiskeynut

A rather gentle introduction into 100% agave.

Salud

A Maestro Dobel Tequila Trio, Silver, Diamante Reposado & Anejo, 40%

Tequila – It makes me happy.

Sang Terrorvision back in the 1990’s.

And both are still keeping me happy today!

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Tequila trio c/othewhiskeynut

This tasty trio from Maestro Dobel come in classy bottles topped with cork stoppers – even in miniatures!

Silver – otherwise unaged Tequila.

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Silver c/othewhiskeynut

A delightful full on flavoursome agave hit – rich earthiness abounds! It’s what I like in a 100% agave – and it certainly delivers.

A lovely exploration of the tequila genre.

Diamante Reposado – aged from 2 to 12 months in oak barrels.

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Diamante c/othewhiskeynut

Usually reposado tequila takes on a slightly golden hue from the barrel ageing – but Diamante Reposado has been filtered to remove the colour – and although exceptionally smooth & easy going with a touch of spice on the rear – I can’t help feeling some of those rich agave flavours have been stripped out too!

Añejo – aged from 1 to 3 years in oak.

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Anejo c/othewhiskeynut

A touch of woodiness, a hint of tobacco, a smidgen of smoke.

Añejo is an elegantly balanced & complex tequila displaying an agave base overlaid with flavours emanating from those wooden barrels.

A wonderful combination!

Picking a winner from this trio depends on the angle you’re coming from;

For agave fans – Silver is the truest representation,

Añejo would please whiskey drinkers,

While Diamante Reposado offers an easy drinking platform for cocktails.

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Back label c/othewhiskeynut

For me Diamante Reposado was a bit of a disappointment – but the full on flavours of both Silver & Añejo excited my palate.

They kept me happy!

Sláinte

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La Penca, Joven Mezcal, Con Gusano, 40%

Have you ever encountered a spirit that simply reels you in with seductive aromas?

Entices you with fabulous flavours?

Entertains as it dances merrily on your palate?

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Smoking Mezcal c/othewhiskeynut

Well that’s how La Penca struck me.

Simmering smokiness on the nose.

Smooth earthy agave intermingling with campfire warmth.

The embers gently fading away in a cosy embrace.

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And no, I declined the worm! c/othewhiskeynut

Should have bought the large bottle!

Sheer delight.

Sláinte

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Joven is young or unaged.

Con Gusano is with worm

La Penca uses Salmiana agave for distillation.

 

Desperado Original, Tequila Flavoured Beer, 5.9%

Well – I had to try it.

After exploring whiskey barrel aged beers I searched for tequila equivalents  – and ended up with this.

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Desperado? c/othewhiskeynut

A tequila flavoured beer by Heineken – of all people.

Now lawsuits were threatened over the use of the word ‘Tequila’ by the Mexican Tequila Regulation Board – CRT.

Tequila is a strictly defined category of alcoholic drinks made in Mexico from the blue agave plant – which Desperado clearly is not.

The brand is readily available in Ireland.

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Desperate! c/othewhiskeynut

Golden straw in colour, lively head.

Decidedly empty on the flavour front.  A hint of sweet oranges & a chemically aftertaste.

No depth, no body & definitely no agave.

At 5.9% it’s deceptively light.

Not a pleasant drinking experience.

Desperate.

Sláinte

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Jose Cuervo, Especial Reposado, 38%

As tequila finishing is now a ‘thing’ in Irish Whiskey – see JJ Corry The Battalion & Killowen Experimental Series Tequila Cask – along with the fact tequila distillers Jose Cuervo own Bushmills – I thought an exploration of the category would be fun.

Tequila is a highly regulated spirit.

The governing body – Tequila Regulatory Council (CRT) operate strict guidelines as to what is – or is not – allowed under the Official Standards of Tequila – or NOM – which are available at crt.org.mx

Jose Cuervo is the biggest selling Tequila brand in the world – stats from 2019 here.

The brands bottles are readily available in Ireland & I picked up their Especial Reposado for appraisal.

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Tequila sunshine! c/othewhiskeynut

All tequila has to be made with the blue agave plant in Mexico.

If it doesn’t state ‘100% agave’ – like this especial – it must contain a minimum of 51% agave. The remainder can be made up of permitted additives; caramel colouring, natural oak extract, glycerin & sugar syrup for example.

This obviously effects the tasting experience.

So how did I find Jose Cuervo Especial Reposado?

Well – initially that distinctive pungenty earthy agave aroma greeted me – but it was overlaid by a sweet & slightly sickly caramel I dislike in many a whiskey.

The palate was very smooth & easy – just lacking a rich powerful earthiness – which is what I’m after in a tequila.

Only on the finish did those lovely agave notes resurface as it gently dried out leaving a peppery spice.

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Mit farbstoff c/othewhiskeynut

This is mass market stuff.

Simple, sweet, easy & smooth.

And it sells well.

It’s the equivalent of many a blended whiskey & exhibits the same sweet caramelly notes that – on my palate at least – hide the purity of the agave – or subtleties of the barley – depending on your drink of choice.

Just like whiskey – to get the better stuff you usually have to pay more.

But those tequilas are harder to find in Ireland.

Sláinte

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Tequila Pedro Infante, Anejo, 38%

Before the pandemic, visiting friends at home was an everyday occurrence.

Having the opportunity to raid their drink’s cabinets for something interesting or unusual was always a treat.

A handsome, suave, almost dashing type of character emblazoned on a Tequila bottle caught my attention.

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Quién es? c/othewhiskeynut

Who is this & how does the tequila taste?

Pedro Infante was an iconic figure in the Mexican heyday of cinema – 1940’s to 50’s.

A highly popular singing career also ran concurrently before a plane crash tragically cut short his life.

What better way to celebrate his legacy to Mexican culture than having a range of Tequilas named after him?

So a glass was poured.

Now don’t let the pale straw colour put you off – this was definitely tequila.

A soft, earthy agave note greeted me for starters.

A mild & mellow palate from the oak ageing gave a gentle easy going sipping experience.

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¿puede alguien traducir? c/othewhiskeynut

No rough edges here.

Rather like the dapper gentleman on the label!

Salud

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Mezcal Amores, Cupreata & Espadín Joven, 41%

The generous folks at Axiom Brands kindly sent out some tasty samples from their eclectic spirits portfolio for me to enjoy.

Having already sampled the delights of Australia’s Starward Whisky here,

And visited the maturing casks of Chapel Gate Whiskey here,

I thought it opportune to explore some of Axiom’s other stars.

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An assembly of Axiom Brands spirits. c/othewhiskeynut

Like Mezcal Amores.

I first became acquainted with Mezcal doing a Level 2 Spirits Award at the WSET – Wine & Spirit Education Trust.

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Spirited reading c/othewhiskeynut

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.

It’s definitely amore for Mezcal Amores from me!

Cue Dean Martin.

Sláinte

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Monte Alban, 100% Agave, Mezcal, 40%

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.

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Innovation in an Irish Whiskey c/othewhiskeynut

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.

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Mexican Mezcal c/othewhiskeynut

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.

Sláinte

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