Now I’m not sure how many people pick Mezcal as their go-to drink come winter time. I mean, it’s eggnog and rum and brandy season after all. Not to mention Peaty whisky season, but what about the other smoky spirit? I can’t say I like mezcal better than peated whisky… Do you have a favourite child? They are both so different, there is absolutely room in my heart for both. That being said though, I did want to bring some attention and love to mezcal in the offseason, because A) its popularity is still rising in our lovely city, and B) It’s the Christmas season, and I’m all in for unique gifts and giving people things they themselves have no idea if they’ll enjoy (but come on… for mezcal, they have to like it right?).
Ok, so showcase some different producers and different agaves, various price points, but forget that barreled crap (it simply kills the beauty of Joven mezcal). To further showcase the versatility of the spirit I can make a couple of cocktails, and bing bang boom, we’ve got ourselves a tasting! Oh, snap… food. Luckily our neighbours and kindred spirits Peasant Cheese is always there to make up some beautiful boards full of cheats, cheese, maybe add some chips and salsa, orange slices (gotta be authentic!) just to seal the deal. Alright, I think that’s everything! That along with 20 or so thirsty guests. Here we go!
To start off the evening, I wanted to prime palates, and give the mezcal rookies a taste of what sort of flavours they should anticipate along with an example of how you can simply substitute this into your favourite cocktail with beautiful results. I chose the Tom Collins because it’s relatively simple to prepare(I’ve only got like an hour and a half to work with here), it’s crisp, acidic, with a hint of sweetness, all of which go so incredibly well with Mezcal smoke.
The recipe goes as such:
- 1 Part simple syrup
- 2 Part fresh squeezed lemon or lime juice
- 3 Parts Mezcal (preferably Joven)
-Dash of Lavender bitters
Combine ingredients, pour over ice and fill the glass with about 4-5 parts soda. Drink, then repeat.
After wetting our whistles, it was time to indulge in the main course. A selection of premium mezcals from various agave varietals and producers.
Bruxo 0 Receta Inicial Espadin: The name means “Initial recipe”, and is a worthy Mezcal for both the uninitiated and the those who’d like to relax and enjoy a finger or two of a worry-free Mezcal. Bottled at about 37% abv, this 100% Espadin showcases generous agave sweetness along with a mellow semi-vegetal smoke. Bananas and lychees accompany the creamy body and linger just slightly into the ashy finish.
Mezcal Agua Santa: We follow up with another easy drinking, but more complex spirit. There’s not much information to be found on this particular bottling, but it’s possible it’s Imported spirit, bottled for the Alberta market specifically. This soft, smoky, joven Espadin is a crisp and clean mezcal and is more well rounded and elegant than the Bruxo, with more earth-like notes along with slightly more tropical fruit.
El Jolgorio Tobaziche: This is the first time mezcal legend Pedro Vasquez had released a Tobaziche through the EJ line. The rare varietal takes at least 14 years to mature and makes for a beautiful spirit. This starts off with aromas of dehydrated onions near a smokehouse and hits the palate with notes of rubber, pine sap, cut dandelion greens and volatile acids. Terribly elegant and shows off its rarity quite nicely. The last 2 bottles on the shelf may be the last 2 in the province!
Mezcal Marca Negra: Our last straight sipper of the night is of one of the more famous agave varietals. This over-proof Tobala is bottled at just over 50% and gives notes of smoky chilies, burnt marshmallows that fell on the ground and off-brand sharpies. The slight heat from the alcohol says to be cautious of pairing with spicy foods, but perhaps it’d go nicely with something with a hint of sweetness to it.
The nightcap was an old favourite of mine, the Negroni, or Mezgroni as it were. It’s a full-bodied cocktail with a moderate sweetness, a balanced bitterness that makes for a good digestif. The smoke creeping around the sides of the palate mingles with the bitterness and oily texture in a unique way. If you want to try it yourself, use the following:
-1 Part Mezcal
-1 Part red vermouth
~1 Part Campari (to taste though if you’re opposed to bitterness)
Combine and stir over ice, and strain into a rocks glass, garnish.
The Negroni, in general, is welcomed with a mixed reception in my experience so the overall reaction to it was about what I expected, but I got the point across nicely: Take your favourite Cocktail, sub in mezcal and see what happens. At the very least it’ll be interesting.
Though my guests didn’t know the prices while tasting, it was fun to see the favourites of the night were the Marca Negra and the El Jolgorio (1st and 2nd place respectively), which means the quality of the spirit really speaks out. I myself am blown away by the El Jolgorio, but the crowd seemed to like the Marca Negra better. Fine fine, their opinions are what matters anyway.
In the new year, there will be another agave tasting, though this time it will feature both mezcal and tequila, and I’ll have to make sure to have all types of ageing and styles, so if this sounded fun, but you are itching to explore a little more, please make sure to take a look on our tasting schedule at https://www.kensingtonwinemarket.com/tastings/tasting-schedule/ and sign up before it’s full! You’ll get some tasty snacks out of it, along with my charming face and some education, and the same goes for the beer tastings on there as well!
That’s about all I have to say for now. Until next time!