All tequilas are mezcals, but mezcals are not tequilas. Got that? If not, here’s a brief run down of the similarities and differences.
Mezcal is distilled from agave. In fact, the word mezcal comes from mexcalmetl, Nahuatl (or Aztec) for agave. Once the agave is fermented it is called pulque and is similar in alcohol content to beer. By distilling this fermented agave juice, it becomes a spirit known as mezcal. Dating back to the 1500’s when Spanish invaders brought their knowledge of alembic stills, and a thirst for hearty spirits, mezcal has been the traditional drink of the working classes.
Tequila on the other hand, must come from the Jalisco region of Mexico, much like Cognac must come from the Cognac region of France. Unlike mezcal, tequila may contain up to 49% non-agave grain or sugar based spirits (usually or sugar cane). This is known as mixto tequila, and is generally to be avoided. Current regulations do permit a mezcal mixto containing up to 20% non-agave sugars. However, craft mezcal producers have petitioned to have the regulations changed to require only 100% agave allowed.
Mezcalero no. 11 is crafted by Alberto “Don Beto” Ortiz near Miahuatlan, Mexico from semi-wild agave karwinskii (madrecuishe), rhodacantha (Mexicano), and cultivated espadín. Like the rest of the Mezcalero portfolio, No. 11 is a limited edition which will sell out quickly.
Mezcalero no. 11 (94.6 proof)
Nose: Lightly smoked with a fruity agave nose. There is a grape-like character here which contributes to the vine fruit perception. Mouth-watering.
Taste: Well balanced and with a heft of smoke that works with the spirit and not against it. I am reminded of Highland Scotch whisky. A second taste brings out more of the smoke, but it still is working behind the scenes and allows the agave to work its magic. Effortless and masterfully distilled and aged.
Finish: As I mentioned earlier, there is a fruity quality here which keeps things light and approachable. Fresh and sprightly agave notes linger for a long time with only a hint of the earlier smoke.
Overall: The whole tasting experience starts off slow and builds to a crescendo, then quiets down again to a restful and pleasant finish. Possibly one of the finest mezcals I’ve had the pleasure of tasting. A bargain if you can find a bottle.
GSN Rating: A+
For more information go to: Craft Distillers