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