Ohhh Mezcal, where art thou worm?

“Mezcal, meet John”

“John, meet Mezcal”

“Hi Mezcal, you could be the greatest thing on the face of the earth or a vile torridness that haunts me forever”

So, Mezcal. I don’t know if you’ve heard about mezcal but it’s got quite the reputation. In fact, a lot of tequila’s bad rap comes from mezcal. That worm? That was started by the producers of mezcal as a marketing gimmick to get college kids and party animals (yours truly) to buy it. Now I’ve never had the worm, never cared to and don’t plan on it. Thankfully this juice we have right here is devoid of all things insect.

Now, all tequila is mezcal but not all mezcal is tequila. Confusing? Mezcal can be made anywhere in Mexico and with almost any agave plant. Tequila on the other hand needs to be made in the region of tequila and only with Blue Weber Agave’s while Mezcal is typically made in Oaxaca. Another difference between it’s tequila brethren is the agave’s used in mezcal production are cooked in fire pits underground as opposed to clay or stone ovens. Neat huh? So this underground fire pit creates smoke, and smoke is one of the overwhelming flavors of mezcal. Lot’s of tequila drinkers have been completely turned off of mezcal because of it’s smokiness. It’s characteristic smokiness often draws parallels to Islay scotches known for their peaty, smokey goodness. It’s a good thing I enjoy a glass of Lagavulin every now and again.

This bottle is a reposado, so it’s an aged mezcal not a Joven (unaged) which translates to, Young. The mezcal lexicon is slightly different from tequila’s but there are plenty of crossovers. The brand is Los Danzantes, and like most mezcals, can be pretty hard to find, at least east of California. Anyway, I picked this bottle up for just under $40 bucks from Holiday Package on Buford Hwy in Chamblee, Ga. I’ve only seen this brand at 2 other stores around Atlanta and they were both kissing the $70 mark. That’s the other problem with mezcal, the price. See most mezcal’s aren’t mass-produced like tequila’s. Most are made single-village style and thus each have their own distinct flavor profile. You’ll see brands market by the name of the village. Del Maguey is perhaps the most famous mezcal, and known for this technique, but we’re drinking Los Danzantes, which is made with the Espadin Agave.

Now this bottle is neat, it’s got a ceramic stopper on top of a neat medicinal style bottle covered in inverted dimples. It’s label is small and minimalist without being overly modern. My bottle is Lot no. 001 and bottle 1308. I don’t know they do their bottling but this seems pretty early in the production run. Those other bottles on the shelf were all lot 001 as well, just saying.

Immediately opening the bottle I got lots of smoke and agave. It promptly brought my senses back to a backyard barbaque with wafts of smoke and something swine being slow cooked at a low temperature. After letting it breath some sweetness started to come out, dark honey and caramelized agave maybe? On the pallet I was greeted with a crisp bite quickly followed by a creaminess laced with smoke that was among the most interesting alcoholic tastings I’ve ever had outside of my first foray into Islay scotches. My worries are over. I was thinking the 42% alcohol would be too much as would the infamous smoke.

Needless to say, I’m hooked. If more bottles of mezcal were available in the southeast I’d try them but from here on out it looks to be mail order or barstock only. If I had more, I’d love to try some cocktails with this. The smoke would add a depth to some Paloma’s the world has never seen. Now the Holiday Package had 2 bottles left when I grabbed this, if you buy the remaining stock before I get my hands on that other bottle…you die…it’s that good. 4.5 outta 5


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2 Responses to “Ohhh Mezcal, where art thou worm?”

  1. vic Says:

    Good article, and I like you live here in the southeast and am finding it hard ti enjoy the better Mezcals that are available up north. Monte Alban is the lowest form of Mezcal. I have had it and some called Lajita which was a good smokey mezcal I purchased in Georgia. Have also seen Scorpion Mezcal but it is kind of expensive. If you know of a retailer who will ship to Alabama. let me know

    • elcazadordetaco Says:

      I believe Cask in San Francisco and Hitimewine.net will ship to ‘bama although you’d have to check their sites. Mezcals have been popping up more recently around here with brands like Del Maguey, fidencio and sombra. All which are excellent brands. Let me know if you get your hands on any more bottles and look out for some more mezcal reviews here coming shortly. Thanks for reading!

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