Craft Spirits: Mezcal
Hello friends and patrons of The Wine Connection! Thanks for taking the time to tune into this week’s blog post. I’d like to take this opportunity to put mezcal in the limelight for a bit.
Some of you all are probably experts, but I’d like to explain in simple terms for those who aren’t well-versed in Mexican craft spirits.
In the simplest definition, mezcal, much like tequila, is a distilled alcoholic beverage that is made from agave plants. The name ‘mezcal’ is actually derived from an ancient Aztec word for ‘oven cooked agave.’
The production process is quite straight forward. The hearts or ‘piñas’ of the agave plant are harvested and cooked in an earthen mound over a pit of hot rocks. This is what imparts the smokiness. Then the hearts are crushed and mashed by a stone wheel (often turned by a horse) and are left to ferment in vats or barrels with water added. Then the liquid is collected and distilled, and either aged or bottled. Sometimes producers will age mezcals for up to 12 years.
Agave plants are native to Mexico, and 70% of the world’s mezcal is produced in the state of Oaxaca where there is a vast variety of agave varieties. Each distinct bottling of mezcal might be named or classified based on the species of agave that was used during production. Mezcal is classically smoky (similar to the ‘peat’ aroma present in scotch), and is typically enjoyed neat. However, mezcals have become popular among mixologists for uses in various cocktails, such as a Mezcal Margarita or a Naked & Famous.
If you haven’t tried a Naked & Famous, I strongly suggest it. And if you have, I also strongly suggest it! The recipe is as follows:
1 part mezcal
1 part Yellow Chartreuse
1 part Aperol (or other amaro of your choice)
1 part lime juice
Shake and serve up in a coupe. Garnish with a twist of grapefruit or lemon.
Some of our favorite cocktails at the shop are Rey Campero’s Espadin Joven, Tres Papalote’s Wild Cupreata Joven, Yu Baal’s Tobala Joven, and Yu Baal’s Espadin Reposado.
To recap, the name ‘Espadin’ or ‘Cupreata’ is in reference to the species of agave used to make each mezcal. Let’s find your favorite variety!