Tequila and Mezcal with Hunter

Ah, the classic Mexican beverage drinking celebration that everyone looks forward to and regrets looking back. Is there any way better to celebrate than drinking copious amounts of Corona and Cuervo? Perhaps body shots would make the evening more exciting. Luckily for those with better sense, there was another event in town that offered better Mexican spirits than what is available on the standard back bar. Unfortunately, it was not on the fifth. No, instead it was relegated to the fourth, a day much better than the fifth. This gave the attendees a chance to do it all again the following night if they wished to.

The bottles we poured were of a calibre unlike any other done for the Cinco de Mayo “Spirit Special” at one’s local pub. Here are the spirits we chose to represent Mexico on Cuatro de Mayo.

Tequila Ocho Plata – $69
A small producer creating, in my humblest opinion, some of the most invigorating tequilas on the market. Of the different tequilas I’ve had, Tequila Ocho offers the most high-toned, elegant, perfumed, and complex of tequilas. Such beauty is not to be contained in the glass; the vibrant nose showing delicate floral tones, akin to a stroll through an exotic, equatorial garden. Slightly fleshy on the palate, the essence of succulent plants, clementine orange, and lemon zest perform a delicate dance. This is one of the best Blanco tequilas I have had. The definitive favourite of the night, I could drink this all summer.

Clase Azul Blanco – $115 (Gift Pack Version)
Fatter and more oily than the Ocho, Azul is the big, bad, sweet tooth satisfying tequila that loves to shower the drinker in hedonistic bliss. I can see why this company is so enthralled by the variety of flavorful barrels they use, Azul appears to cater to opulence. The nose is near oceanic, a splash of brine in the background with an oyster like thickness to the palate. Mashed kiwis, dragon fruit and tired starfruit provide a cavalcade of flavours stimulating all sorts of tropical imaginings. Not my favourite – given the opulent nature of this bottlings richness, but nevertheless a crowd pleaser and a favourite of the participants.

Tierra-Noble Reposado – $91
If you have read some of my previous tasting posts, you may be aware that I am not terribly fond of barrel aged agave spirits. Considering the unique nature of agave in contrast to the rest of the world’s grain distillation practices, I usually like to see the spirit in it’s purest expression, generally unaged and uncontaminated by barrel presence. That said, Tierra-Noble did flip my expectations, soothing my complaints. I’m not saying I have changed my mind entirely, instead, I simply believe that Tierra-Noble’s Reposado is done well enough to do both the agave and the barrel justice. To smell, baking pie crust, an interior of golden delicious apples and bits of basil. The herbaceous nature follows to the palate, along with a bit of lemon meringue filling to compliment the baking apple goodness.

1921 Single Barrel Anejo – $62
The aforementioned info holds – I’m still not entirely convinced by barrel ageing agave spirits. What I will say is that 1921 has a special place in my heart, being the first tequila I had that convinced me agave spirits can be fine drinks indeed. The barrel is relatively muted on this one, though present in the form of slightly scorched toffee and soft vanilla bean tones. Any hint of greenery is dried up in this bottle, dead leaves and slight forest floor tones. A peppery nature comes through as well, spicing up the mix a bit. Lastly, this bottle also holds a bit of earth, not full dirt but perhaps reminiscent of a saloon in a one horse town, tumbleweeds and dust storms showering everything in dust. I imagine this one is like a barkeep pouring you one in a dusty glass.

Excellia Anejo – $122
Talking about barrel tones, Excellia goes all out with a combination of sauterne barriques and cognac barrels to mature this spirit. The base character is full of ripe and slightly tropical fruit, the top layers clouded by graham crackers with honey, some kind of allspice baked good, and a dessert-like finish of decadent sticky toffee pudding. There is no subtlety to this bottle, but that is okay. Some people like the sweeter tequilas. Those people have yet to be enlightened. I’m just joking, but only a little. This was one of the other class favourites of the night.

Nuestra Soledad Zolquitlan (Joven) – $80
Here is where I would generally begin to rant about how superior mezcal is to tequila. I will spare you, dear reader, if only you make yourself a promise. Give mezcal an open-minded try. It is not the easiest step to mount, and it may seem daunting, but I promise you, the reward for enjoying mezcal is absolutely worth it. There is nothing like it in the world, and, once you understand it there will only be bliss. Soledad’s cooperative operation is well put together, each release a unique take on Espadin by the distiller. One might even argue that each one is more of an extension of the distiller’s personality than the agave at this point. The Zolquitlan is all about jalapenos, spicy capsaicin tones alongside charred vegetative matter of the desert. Brush fires and rice dishes with plenty of peppers, followed by smoke from a clay oven baking cheese filled jalapenos. Lovely, well-priced mezcal. I could gladly take a glass of this any day.

Artemezcal (Joven) – $240
Of the most legendary releases, I was under the impression that I had already poured the big bomb (El Jolgorio Tobaziche) at my last mezcal event. Then this bottling arrived. In a one litre, blue glass jug of sorts, this is the kind of bottle you expect to find in an illicit distiller’s shack with no label. Lucky for us it is adorned with the melancholy image of a bedroom, the steel bed frame lacking a mattress attracting the eye first, walls of washed out clay and a dirty window letting in dull light, just enough to call attention to the cleared out nature of the room. I don’t know what it means, but it would look cool on my shelf. The name of the agave escapes my mind at the moment. What I do know is that this is another of those exotic agave varietals that offers such a range of flavours that I’m nearly at a loss to describe it. Nosing evokes sandalwood, the cologne they use so abundantly at Abercrombie & Fitch stores (akin to Montblanc The Legend), and a hint of beech and driftwood bonfires next to the seaside. To taste, an exotic collaboration of cigar lounges, hinting at well-used leather seats, newspapers, and cigar smoke, alongside more oceanic brine. The oils and general feel of this spirit are so highly toned and delicate that I was afraid it may fall apart like some priceless antique. This is either the work of a master or some celestial spirit that has transcended the meaning of mezcal. My other favourite from the event, along with the favourite of the crowd – perhaps coerced by the lunatic ravings I unleashed upon them once I tasted it. Experiences like this are one in a million, and I don’t believe that is an exaggeration.

Cut, this movie is bad.
Hunter
hunter@kensingtonwinemarket.com

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