G’day guys. The warm weather is returning and soon too will the retail industry’s ads to capitalize on it with new pool lounges and clothes from Target and whatever else comes with it. So this week I’m featuring a summer favorite. An exotic tequila. The wines and spirits game goes hand-in-hand with the sort of food and drink pairing that basically everyone of all persuasions of tastes can participate in. Basically all drinks are neutrally bias. There’s very few drinks that would upset anybody adverse to meat or animal products. With the exception of one kind. It isn’t exactly bottled in a flagon of solidified sacrificial lamb’s blood or lined with puppy’s fur, but I’m sure there will be some objection to this, however sordid. Mezcal tequila. Something, that when you first hear about it (especially for those of you reading this, who still don’t know what this is) sounds like something especially created for a visit to Mexico from Bear Grylls. Certainly it sees the sort of thing he would be known to drink if he does. The difference here is, what Bear Grylls does is rugged outdoor indulgences. The kind I wish I could do. This, on the other hand is a top shelf premium. A product of luxury.
Tequila, as we all know, comes from the distilled fermentation of the sap of the blue agave plant. The pulque. Made when the colonizing Spaniards distilled the native Mexican’s pulque to substitute for their brandy. And it’s come to explode in popularity since, and become known as a fun party drink. Being used as mixers for cocktails, shooters and everything in between. The best of which are one hundred percent Agave. This here, is a key diverging point in this article. We are talking about Mezcal today. Normal tequila and Mezcal (or mescal in proper Español) are two totally different animals. Tequila is made from the blue agave plant. And only the blue agave. Mezcal, can be fermented from any number of Mexico’s agave species. The top contestants being the espadín, tobalá, arroqueño, tepeztate and tobaziche species of agave plants. It also differs further when it comes time to distill the brew. With regular tequila, the heart of the agave plant, piña it’s called, once laboriously unearthed by hand by workers are collected and taken to be cooked in mass, above-ground ovens. To activate the agave piña’s sugars present inside them for alcoholic fermentation. Similar to the process of cooking a wort when brewing whiskey, with the obvious exception of it being baked in an oven rather than boiled in a pot. The above-ground oven method is an invention of the twenty-first century’s tequila trade practice – Mezcal, cooks their piña in the ways of the old. Traditionally cooked in pits, with hot stones for heat, heated by fire. For up to three days. This slow and low cooking process underground, is what gives Mezcal, it’s beloved smoky flavor. The cooked piña is then crushed, by a heavy stone pumice powered by a horse walking in a circle, and then added to a vat or barrel for fermentation. Tradition here, continues still. As not, Mezcal is distilled with mass copper stills, stills that by the standards of your honorable Irish whiskey, Kentucky bourbon or Cognac distillery would be a perfectly, even a femininely beautiful piece of craftsmanship to marvel at and covet. Mezcal, apparently deems copper to be too modern after all their efforts to carry out preparations for their beloved Mezcal traditionally as like it had been done a hundred years ago. And instead opts for rustic clay stills. Simple alquitar style stills, as introduced by the colonizing Spanish. Heated by wood fire. With condensers mounted directly atop the boiler, as opposed to aside it, as with pot stills. The vapour of the wash passes straight up vertically through the pipe into an awaiting bowl of cooling water, then forward and downward after the wash is turned back to it’s liquid form.
By now you’re probably wondering about what I mentioned earlier, about how if you’re the type to not eat things that directly resulted too an animal’s death then you wouldn’t like Mezcal. A classic trademark of quality in a top shelf Mezcal has it’s little telltale signs to look for, like any other spirit. If I’m worth my salt as a blogger, at least some returning readers among you will have learnt a tip of mine, that if the label has gone through the trouble of fitting a cork to their bottles and not a simple aluminum cap, this is a sign that this is not any old cocktail mixer. And more a neat-sipping spirit. A trademark of a good Mezcal, is a worm. A Mezcal worm, is either a Red worm or a Maguey worm caterpillar. Added to the fermentation vat for taste. In some cases, the caterpillars even survive their time spent in the fermenter and exit as butterflies. And in recognition of this – a worm is added, after being soaked in pure alcohol before bottling. Traditionally in Mexico, the glass among the last few glasses that receives the worm, is good luck, and is the one to eat it. Yes, eat it. You understand now why I felt obliged to mention Bear Grylls in this article. Nice man, but I would want more information if I were ever fortunate enough to be invited over for a barbecue at his place. So no, no fluffy bunny rabbits or Bambi’s or any delicious game otherwise died to create this tequila. Just one arachnid.
Here in the land Down Under, we’ve got a treasure trove of deadly insects and animals. Not to brag, but while America’s mountain lions and grizzly bears, and when applicable startled ungulates like moose and bison pose a more obvious threat. Our spiders and snakes are the most venomous in the world. A mountain lion can’t hide in your boots, and a bear can’t crawl up your pant leg. They get you when you can’t see them coming. Funnel-web spiders, trapdoor spiders, redback spiders, redbelly snakes, taipans, brown snakes, tiger snakes. And yes, scorpions. We have the lot. It is clear now, that God was using the arid red lands of the Outback to test his mostly deadly of weapons long before the United Kingdom’s military saw fit to do the same. Scorpions are deadly little creatures, present on all continents except Antarctica. In Mexico too, obviously. I don’t actually know the true species of the little creature I met floating in my bottle, but what is clear to be seen is that they felt the need to remove it’s stinger. So I’m willing to bet that if whatever it is, if it stung you, you’d be high-tailing it to the nearest emergency room.
Alright, enough filler. Let’s get to the bottle. A decoratively appointed bottle, with flair. I hardly think I need mention the little sombrero it comes with. An Aztec pattern is embossed into the glass, and again in the design on the label. A gold colored cap with a scorpion upon it. And scorpions debossed into the neck. Clearly, the founder had a fondness for scorpions. Being a reposado tequila, it is oaked – After a scout around the label’s website, I learnt that the tequila is not oaked in American oak as you would assume of a tequila. But French oak. Points for originality. So let’s get to drinking. Upon the breakage of the seal, the opened cap releases a sweet, light organic nose at first. Followed by a deep, dark earthy smoky scent. Thick of depth and unequivocal in it’s presence. On ice, the sweet scent of agave is freed up to mingle with the depth of smoky flavor. The flavor on the palette is both smooth and spicy. You’re able to indulge in the full extent of the spice and the smoke on the palette, without the barb of the sting. I’m able to delve into all those days those Mexican agave piña’s spent in subterranean ovens, the accumulation of all those things. The full unapologetic murky grit.
In review: There’s a lot of unoffensive drinks on this site I have had, that which I have had to answer the question of whether or not I would buy it again. The question in hindsight of taste is not in question. I’ve had passing flirtations with Mezcal in the pass with tastings. This Mezcal, not only goes far and beyond in outclassing liquors well above it’s pricetag, I may have just found a new personal favorite. The uninhibited dark smoke of the palette, cannot be over exaggerated. Tropical drinks have never been my forte, as the tropical climate in which I find myself trapped during the unwelcoming summer months has never been too kind to me. But me and this drink, we get along real well. I don’t simply advise you to buy this drink. Put some Johnny Cash on, pour yourself a glass of this over ice, sit back and relax. Cheers