New Bottles: 1800 Tequila
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New Booze: Mezcalero Mezcal

This one is only available in California- sorry, rest of world!

Mezcalero mezcal Craft Distillers, the Ukiah-based marketing group that makes Germain-Robin brandy and helps market other brands they believe in, has been importing Los Danzantes mezcal for a few years now, after Ron Cooper of Del Maguey introduced G-R's Ansley Coale to some artisan distillers in Mexico. They're now bringing in a new mezcal called Mezcalero- a whopping 168 bottles of it for sale in California only.

Mezcalero is made in San Juan del Rio in the Mexican state of Oaxaca and distilled by Joel Antonio Cruz. As you may know, all tequila is a subset of mezcal, made from one type of agave/maguey (Blue Weber). Much mezcal that is not tequila is made in Oaxaca and Chihuahua and it is made from espadin agave/maguey. Mezcalero, on the other hand, is made from a blend of wild harvested tobala and tepeztate agave.

Mezcalero has that smoky glue aroma associated with mezcal (from roasting the agaves in a smoky pit rather than baking it in steam ovens as in tequila), but with an equally powerful very bright, sweet, overripe  green olive aspect to the nose as well. On the palate there's an amazing citrus burst that quickly dissipates into a sweet nothingness but the fire and smoke you expect from mezcal is absent, leaving a pleasant charred touch on the tongue while a creamy orange green pepper and jalapeno flavor lingers. I'd never have guessed it's 45.6% ABV. 

I can't claim to be any sort of expert on mezcal, but I can tell you this one is gooood.

Comments

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Ryan

Camper,

Do you know where someone could find this in the Bay? Any idea of what one of these runs at retail?

Camper English

Many of their products are sold here, though I don't see Mezcalero yet so you might call:
http://www.caddellwilliams.com/index.php

Or the Germain-Robin contact info is here:
http://germain-robin.com/html/howcanigetsome.html

Beyond that I would call the usual stores- Cask, John Walker.

Price- my press release says shelf price is $84

Mr Manhattan

Camper, general question for you.

In this piece you wrote: "As you may know, all tequila is a subset of mezcal..." I just happened to have been given a reprint of an article from Spirit Journal (September 2006) in which F. Paul Pacult states: "All agave-based spirits in Mexico, including tequila, are collected beneath the categorical umbrella known as mezcal. So mezcal, then, is both a spirit category associated solely with Mexico, and a particular subcategory within that category." In other words, both tequila and mezcal (the regional spirit) are peer sub-classes of mezcal (the overall spirit category).

Is Pacault's statement correct? If so, then what you wrote seems a bit misleading.

Michael (flexing new found knowledge. ;->)

Camper English

Actually I think "all tequila is a subset of mezcal" is the most clear statement (take that, Pacult). (I'll also note that in Kindred Spirits 2 he doesn't use this same language.) You can make mezcal that is not tequila in the designated geographical region for tequila (for example: mezcal from tobala agave instead of blue weber agave), but you can't make tequila outside of its designated region even if you use the blue weber agave. So tequila is always a subset of mezcal.

For judging purposes though, we would say that all mezcal that is not tequila is in the category of mezcal. So this latter "mezcal" now refers to a subcategory of mezcal. But that's just because we chose the categories that way.

And if you want it to be even more confusing (when it doesn't need to be) all mezcal is just a subcategory of "agave spirits."

Let's say we were judging French grape brandy. Cognac and Armagnac are subcategories of French grape brandy. But if we were in a judging, we'd make three categories, one for Cognac, one for Armagnac, and one for "French grape brandy that isn't cognac or armagnac". I think (but could be wrong) that this is what Pacult was describing with his 'mezcal as a category of mezcal' statement. It means "mezcal that is not tequila."

Does that make sense?

Mr Manhattan

Camper - thanks for the detailed reply. I *think* I'm pretty clear on this. Let me test that...

Using your example at the end as a template, would it be correct to say: "Tequila and Mezcal are sub-categories of mezcal (the category), which is itself a sub-category of an even larger category called "agave spirits." If we were in a judging, we'd make three categories, one for Tequila, one for Mezcal, and one for "Mezcal/agave spirits that aren't Tequila or Mezcal."

Is that correct?

Michael

Camper English

Sounds right to me. In reality, don't know how non-mezcal agave spirits are judged (since there are only about 2 of them on the market), but that could be a way to do it. This scheme is just my best guess as to why you'd have Pacult mention "tequila separate from mezcal" as opposed to only "tequila a subcategory of mezcal." All tequila is by definition mezcal.

Wyatt Peabody

Gentlemen, it is entirely refreshing to see erudite discussion around the subject of mezcal.

Any time that one distills an agave [maguey] based distillate, it is called "mezcal."

The term mezcal describes not only the agave-based spirits from the Mexican state of Oaxaca, but the entire category of distillates created from the roasted heart of the agave plant [piƱa] made anywhere in Mexico.

Tequila is actually a specific type of Mezcal that was originally only produced in the state of Jalisco, in and around the town of Tequila, and is now legally produced in 5 Mexican states.

Bacanora is mezcal;Sotol is made from Dasylirion wheeleri [sotol], hence, it in not mezcal; Raicilla is an entirely different animal, which might just turn out to be "mezcal" once the Mexican government figures out how to tax it.

Saludos,

Wyatt

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