If tequila had an older, sophisticated cousin with a mysterious side it would be mezcal. Despite the popularity of tequila, mezcal is the national spirit of Mexico, and its inviting, smokey flavor has quickly garnered the interest of libation lovers across the globe.
For those curious, the primary difference between tequila and mezcal is the type of agave used and where the spirit is produced. Additionally, unlike tequila, mezcal is typically made by roasting agave in an in-ground pit.
If you're new to the wonderfully, smokey world of mezcals, choosing the right bottle can be quite the intimidating task. But if you're looking for a variety of options to choose from, the mezcals ahead vary in price and distillation, but are all delicious options for both mezcal newbies and hardcore aficionados.
Izo Mezcal Joven
Sustainability has been huge in the past year, from clothing to food to spirits, and for obvious good reason. For a mezcal with a sustainable side, consider snatching up a bottle of Izo Mezcal Joven. Izo Mezcal Joven is made from 100% hand-harvested, slow-roasted agave, in rural Durango. Steeped in history, this mezcal pick is made by keeping centuries' worth of Mexican tradition in mind. And it's chic, minimalist bottle is sure to be a show-stopper at your next gathering.
Xicaru Mezcal Reposado
Aged in medium-toasted American oak barrels, Xicaru Mezcal Reposado is brimming with flavor. After resting in these barrels for two to four months, Xicaru Mezcal Reposado is then gifted with a golden, straw color, as well as tasting notes that lean towards the sweeter side. Gentle honey and vanilla are among the saccharine flavors present after taking a sip of this mezcal, which is made with 100% maguey espadin that has been cooked in a stone oven. On the nose is a mix of smokey mezcal and light vanilla and sweet caramel.
Ilegal Mezcal Joven
Perhaps one of the most popular mezcals by name alone, Ilegal Mezcal Joven, is another sustainable option. It is a mezcal that is made in the increasingly popular city of Oaxaca, Mexico. In Spanish, the word "joven" translates to "young," and in the mezcal world joven mezcals are those that are unaged. Given that it's unaged, Ilegal Mezcal Joven is ideal for those in the market for a mezcal that isn't too smokey. Instead, this mezcal flaunts welcoming hints of green apple, fresh citrus and red chiltepe.
Del Maguey Vida Mezcal
If the colorful label on a bottle of Del Maguey Vida Mezcal doesn't draw you in first, its affordable pricing surely will. Both artisanal and organic, Del Maguey Vida Mezcal is a spirit that takes pride in being highly mixable. Its versatility in the mixology department stems from a palate that offers ginger, cinnamon, burnt sandalwood, banana and tangerine.
For a simple cocktail option, combine Del Maguey Vida Mezcal with Colombian coffee, milk and sugar to create a Cafe Del Maguey.
Don Amado Mezcal Anejo
A mezcal that is triple-distilled during the distillation process, Don Amado Mezcal Anejo is extra smooth. To create Don Amado Mezcal Anejo, 100% pure, mature highland agave is roasted with firewood in in-ground pits. From there, the mash created from the roasted agave is double-distilled in ceramic pot stills and then triple-filtered before bottling. The end result is a savory, sweet mezcal with earthy notes, as well as notes of caramel and smoke.
Delirio De Oaxaca Mezcal Anejo
Delirio De Oaxaca Mezcal Anejo has the distinct pleasure of being made with a blend of not one, but two types of agave: agave espadin and agave madrecuishe, The agave, which is harvested by hand, is cooked for three days in a stone oven beneath the ground. Delirio De Oaxaca Mezcal Anejo undergoes quite the aging process, having been aged a minimum of twelve months in barrels made of medium toasted, new American oak. The outcome of these steps and others in the distilling process is a spirit that is both woodsy and sweet.
Clase Azul Mezcal
If you aren't afraid of a little splurge here and there, Clase Azul Mezcal is a must-have for your shelves. Considering that you can somehow take your attention away from Clase Azul Mezcal's effortlessly chic, black matte decanter (hand-crafted by artisans), you'll find a spirit that boasts dessert-y notes of peanut, brown sugar, honey, ash, wood and chocolate. These notes can be credited to the underground baking of 100% cenzino agave while the fermentation process brings out notes of ripened fruit.