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Hi, this is one of our (almost) daily tastings. Santé!

November 25, 2018


A few mezcals

It’s true, we like mezcal, it’s often quite close to malty territories, hence making for pleasant malternatives. Unless, of course, you dislike olives, earth, and roots. Do you?

Los Cuerudos ‘Reposado 2015’ (38%, OB, mescal)

Los Cuerudos ‘Reposado 2015’ (38%, OB, mescal)
This one was aged for a little less than one year in oak barrels. The brand also have a joven ‘con gusano’, that is to say with a stupid worm inside the bottle. Very bad news to us… Colour: straw. Nose: some slightly bizarre notes of smoked ham at first, some new plastic as well, then some vanilla, pears, overripe bananas and touches of light molasses, probably from the casks. Not the first time I’m thinking that vanilla-y oak plus some robust distillate such as tequila or mescal just wouldn’t fit, unless there’s been some proper long-term aging having taken place. Mouth: not bad, but too strange and dissonant to me. Salted custard, smoked ham, pickled pears, and other bizarre combinations. Finish: medium, smoky, very dry. Salted black tea and cranberry juice – a mistake, surely. Comments: not saying this is bad spirit, not at all, it’s just that it doesn’t tick many boxes in my book. That’s all personal, as you know.
SGP:462 - 62 points.

I think we have a properly aged one in the boxes, hold on…

Nucano ‘Anejo Espadin’ (40%, OB, mezcal, +/-2018)

Nucano ‘Anejo Espadin’ (40%, OB, mezcal, +/-2018) Three stars
This one was aged for five years, which is already a lot by Central American standards. Colour: full gold. Nose: it’s a rather soft mezcal, with a feeling of milk chocolate flavoured with lavender or violets, which gives it a rather tequila-y side. A little fudge as well, butterscotch, cappuccino… It’s got even less raw mezcalness than the Los Cuerudos, but on the other hand, everything’s in place and well-balanced. Mouth: good arrival, agave-y and mildly rooty, with some brine and more violets (or Parfait Amour liqueur), then rather Jaffa cakes and orangettes. Perhaps one small olive in a far distance. Finish: medium, rather on salted chocolate, which works extremely well as soon as some kind of balance has been achieved. Smoky herbs on the aftertaste, and more black tea. Comments: not totally my cup of agave eau-de-vie but I think we’re flying rather high already. Hey, that’s a figure of speech!
SGP:452 - 80 points.

While we’re at Nucano’s, let’s have some of their jovens!…

Nucano ‘Espadin-Cuishe Ensemble’ (45.34%, OB, mezcal, joven, +/-2018)

Nucano ‘Espadin-Cuishe Ensemble’ (45.34%, OB, mezcal, joven, +/-2018) Four stars
We’ve already tried both their pure espadin (WF 82) and their pure cuishe (WF 86) earlier this year. This is, as I understand it, a blend of those two varietals. Colour: white. Nose: you don’t beat a good joven. Perfect notes of soft pickled gherkins, fresh pineapple, green olives, damp beach sand, Brussels sprout, zucchini, and indeed violet sweets (from Toulouse). The whole’s rather elegant, delicate, fragrant, some would say ‘feminine’. Mouth: perfect, flavourful, starting with fennel seeds, pink olives, drops of pastis, a touch of custard, and violets again. Then smokier elements, a wee feeling of peat smoke, lapsang souchong, samphires, green tea, and various herbs. A touch of gentian. Finish: rather long, even earthier, but never rustic. Some well-mannered mezcal. Comments: excellent, flavourful and civilised.
SGP:362 - 85 points.

Nucano ‘Espadin-Tobala Ensemble’ (45.7%, OB, mezcal, joven, +/-2018)

Nucano ‘Espadin-Tobala Ensemble’ (45.7%, OB, mezcal, joven, +/-2018) Four stars
Tobala is a small, flavourful wild agave, as far as I can remember. Nucano’s single-varietal tobala is excellent (WF 86). Colour: white. Nose: it’s fruitier for sure, we’re rather wandering throughout a western orchard, with many pears and juicy apples. Very lightly olive-y and earthy, this really seems to be some gentler mescal, for the lounge. Unless… Mouth: there’s more happening on the palate indeed, but it remains rather fruity, and rather less rooty/olive-y indeed. There’s more citrus for sure, rather tangerines than the tartest lemons this time. Agave syrup, a touch of papaya juice, some unexpected wild raspberries. Finish: medium, very fruity, even going towards artisanal marshmallows now. Comments: an easy, posh version that’s delicate and rather easy to quaff. Which do I like best? I couldn’t tell you!
SGP:551 - 85 points.

Perhaps some single varietals?...

Nucano ‘Tepextate’ (46.7%, OB, mezcal, +/-2018)

Nucano ‘Tepextate’ (46.7%, OB, mezcal, joven, +/-2018) Four stars
Tepextate is another wild agave, quite big I think, that grows high in the mountains. I think it’s the first time I’m trying a tepextate. Colour: white. Nose: very different, and rather on fresh vegetables this time. Little brine or olives or smoke, rather fresh French beans and peas this time. Organic, of course. Brilliant nose! Well, looks like I’ll have to try to distil peas one day (stay tuned!) Mouth: very lovely, with more citrus this time, peppermint, chives, a touch of white peach, and once again not a huge mezcalness. Geranium and zucchini flowers. Excellent spirit, if not extremely earthy and, well, mezcaly. Finish: a little short, perhaps, but very good. Rather on grapefruit and violets bonbons. Peels. Gherkins are back in the aftertaste, though (and afternose!) Comments: a different kind of high-quality mezcal. A Rosebank of mezcal, if you like.
SGP:641 - 86 points.

Nucano ‘Arroqueno’ (47%, OB, mezcal, +/-2018)

Nucano ‘Arroqueno’ (47%, OB, mezcal, joven, +/-2018) Three stars and a half
Another varietal I had never heard of before. How many different kinds of wild agaves are there? According to proper websites, Arroqueno’s ‘the mother’ of the cultivated Espadin, and is a huge wild agave that takes more than twenty years to become an adult. It seems that it’s getting rarer these days, thanks to the success of artisan mezcals (who said tequila for hipsters, who?) Colour: white. Nose: really very gentle, this time, and rather floral, with some geranium (which I often find in mezcal) and wisteria. Agave syrup, stewed apricots… It’s really very mild. Mouth: remains floral and fruity, with minimal earthiness and roots. Almost no brine, rather pink grapefruits, greengages, medlars, prickly pears, oranges… Finish: medium, sweet, fruity, a tad syrupy. The smallest olive in the aftertaste. Picholines? Comments: very easy, rather sweet, fruity… Excellent, just a tad too easy for me, as I tend to prefer earthier, smokier mezcals.
SGP:631 - 83 points.

Those excellent Nucanos got gentler as the strengths went up, isn’t that funny? But this is not over…

Alipús ‘San Juan’ (47.5%, OB, mezcal, lot SJR 104/15, 2100 bottles, 2015)

Alipús ‘San Juan’ (47.5%, OB, mezcal, joven, lot SJR 104/15, 2100 bottles, 2015) Four stars
This one’s famously double distilled in small copper pot stills. I think it’s espadin. Colour: white. Nose: immediately wilder, rawer, much more fermentary and even feinty than all Nucanos, earthier, yeastier, more ‘gherkiny’ (I know), kind of acetic, with even touches of acetone and, well, gym socks, mud, musty old fabric… Whether that’s all nice or not will be decided on in a few seconds… Mouth: well, this batch is a wee tad sweeter than expected, but otherwise all is pretty perfect. Cucumber juice, green bananas, olives, grapefruits, gherkins, and a touch of honey that keeps it sweet and rounded. Not an extreme mezcal for sure, but we’ll see if we can find some pechuga… Finish: rather long, a tad less well-chiselled than the high-def Nucanos, but quite perfect. Candied pineapples here and there, with a sweeter aftertaste on, well, candied pineapples. Oh and olives. Comments: just excellent. A gentle wrestler.
SGP:562 - 86 points.

So, pechuga he said…

Pierde Almas ‘Pechuga’ (50.3%, OB, mezcal, joven, lot no. 07-P) Two stars
When making these pechugas once a year in November, the distillers add the breast of a wild turkey inside the still. Not sure they do the same in the US with that famous bourbon, by the way. I have to say I never quite fell in love with any of the (very) few pechugas I’ve tasted so far. Colour: white. Nose: yeah well, there’s some aniseed, fennel and dill, coated with vanilla sauce and genepy, that’s what I’m finding. Absinth and verbena. Did that wild turkey drink something before it was remorselessly slaughtered? Ouzo? Raki? Mouth: what mezcal? This is not mezcal, it is rather herbal liqueur. How very strange! Grapefruits topped with wormwood, liquorice, aniseed, and kummel. Not too sure… Finish: rather long, herbal. Mexican toothpaste? Comments: something strange happened here. I shall have to give a call to Dr. Watson. Could some chicken breast impart so many herbal, almost mentholy notes to a mezcal?
SGP:671 - 74 points.

What was that? Bah, basta cosi, as they say in Oaxaca.

(Gracias Jürgen and Lucero)

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