DEL MAGUEY MEZCALS
Del Maguey mezcals are some of the easiest to find in Southern California. Their single village series is stocked by many premium liquor stores. We sampled three of them. Except for the Tobala, they are named for the village in which they were made. The Del Magueys lack age statements which leads me to believe they are unaged or blanco mezcals.
Chichicapa, 47.8% alcohol
This was my favorite of all of the mezcals we tasted. It has a distinct smoky flavor, almost comparable to an Islay Scotch. The smoke and agave flavors are beautifully interwoven in a way that made me want to keep sniffing and sipping.
Minero, Santa Catarina Minas, 49.2% alcohol
The Minero is very tangy and fruity with some sweetness. This was probably my least favorite of the three, but had a very distinct flavor that others may like.
Tobala, Wild Mountain Maguey, 46.1% alcohol
Unlike the other mezcals on this list, Tobala is made with the tobala variety of agave as opposed to the more common espadin variety. The Tobala had some smoke but the more dominant flavor was fruit. Clocking in at about $120, it's almost double the price of the Chichicapa and more than double the Minero.
Los Danzantes, Reposado, 42% alcohol
Smoky and smooth this reposado (rested - aged from six months to one year) mezcal had a very sophisticated feel to it. In the Scotch realm (all things must be compared to Scotch) I'd compare it to a smooth Speysider, though it did have some smoke. I found it very pleasant...one of my favorites. Unfortunately, I haven't seen it in California...this bottle came from New Mexico.
El Señorio, Reposado, 38% alcohol
This smoky mezcal does not appear to be available in the US but was purchased in Oaxaca by my brother-in-law on a recent trip. It has very good smoke and great agave flavor, though it lacks some of the subtlety of Los Danzantes and is less powerful than Chichicapa. It's also con gusano (there's a worm in the bottle) which is frowned on by mezcal purists, but doesn't seem to make this stuff taste any less good.
I hope you have enjoyed our brief journey into mezcal, and if you haven't tried it, I hope you will. I leave you with this Oaxacan saying:
Para todo mal, mezcal.
Para todo bien tambien.
For all that is bad, mezcal.
For all that is good as well.
Next Week: Back to Whiskey on Wednesday