Remember those heady college days when you were the BMOC if you ate the worm that comes in that (to be totally honest) god-awful bottle of tequila’s less appealing cousin? Well, if that is your lasting impression of mezcal, prepare to rethink everything you thought was true.
First off, that is not a worm in the bottle. It’s the larvae of a moth that makes its home in the maguey plant, a relative of the agave. Second of all, there are no psychoactive properties to said larvae or mezcal. It has no connection to mescaline, but rather the word mezcal means “oven cooked agave”. Third, the larvae is a gimmick that’s been around for the last 70 years that doesn’t add anything to the spirit. So, what is mezcal?
The best mezcal is made from 100% agave, as is tequila. However, as I mentioned, mezcal is made from the maguey plant, a species of agave, as opposed to Blue Weber agave. This plant, also known as the century plant in the U.S., grows in the region of Oaxaca, Mexico. When traditionally making mezcal, generally the pulp of the maguey pina is roasted in an underground clay oven which imparts the characteristic smokey profile. The end result is very similar to what you’ll find in a highly peated Islay scotch. Zignum mezcal does things a bit differently tho’.
Instead of roasting the maguey, they extract the juice from the plants before steam-cooking them, which creates a cleaner and smoother flavor. They then age the distillate for two months in white American new oak barrels. Despite this relatively short aging process, the typical vanilla and caramel flavors come through quite clearly.
Zignum Reposado Mezcal (80 proof)
Visual: Very light pale gold.
Nose: Slightly smokey, but more vegetal with peppery notes. A warm and lingering sugary sweetness.
Taste: Light and sweet with a lot of similar character to an Irish whiskey. The usual smoke of a mezcal is downplayed in deference to the sweetness of the agave and the oak aging.
Finish: The finish is quite long leaving a lot of rock candy sweetness with a slightly dry bitterness.
Overall: An excellent sipping mezcal which also lends itself well to mixing in cocktails.
GSN Rating: B+
For more information go to: Zignum