Day five sees a change of pace with he first aged or anejo expression, from Los Danzantes in Oxaca. This particular one has had 16 months in oak barrels.
The wood ageing has given it a lovely pale golden hue and its pretty viscous with the legs of the spirit clinging resolutely to the sides of the glass. There’s an earthy damp wood aroma, lightly vegetal with an underlying sage herbality. In the mouth its pretty perfumed with oaky vanilins, perhaps overpoweringly so & quite a light smokiness. It finishes quite heavy, with sticky sherry-like umami oxidation notes.
Its fairly tough going as straight drink due to the level of wood character, but this means it should hold its own in a cocktail. I like the sound of this cocktail for example, but we decided to try a Mezcal Old Fashioned, substituting Agave Syrup for the sugar with orange bitters instead of Angostora. This worked quite well, but I think the dilution effect of the ice helped to be honest.
Verdict probably not a contender for cocktails as it doesn’t have the versatility of a joven and we wouldn’t want to drink it unmixed.
Day three and Joven number 3; Alipun San Baltazar. Another espadin joven from small producers. A difference here seems to be fermentation in pine VATs, lets see if that gives any flavour difference.
Steve reckons there’s earthy molasses and pear skin on the nose whilst Daisy picked up toffee and vanilla, alongside a medicinal whisky like smokiness. Adding water doesn’t do much for the aroma, making it seem more chemical/ plasticky.
Taste wise there’s a lot of smoke action, quite phenolic like a high PPM peaty whisky with a sweet and ashen finish. Daisy picked up some woody notes which could come from fermentation vessels. Contrary to aroma a touch of water brings out a peppermint note which is rather pleasant.
Verdict: This would make a good cocktail mixer but a little brash to be truly enjoyable by itself
Back again with day number the second of this very adult advent. Today’s door revealed the mellifluously named QuiQuiRiQui, from the San Juan Del Rio region. This is a mountainous area, producing agaves within a different microclimate or terroir and therefore a different taste. Its an unaged (joven) expression and is made entirely of the commonly used Espadin species of agave. Double distilling in a copper pot still also contributes to its flavour.
Enough of the technical stuff; how is it to drink?!
There’s a volatile punchy floral perfumed aroma with undercurrents of mace and fresh cut grass. Fairly dry and woody, with an ashen paper note to taste, with a peppery spicey finish. Its 48% ABV gives it the impression of sweetness on the tongue and adding water brings out more of a smoky star anise note. Daisy found it to be quite sweet with an alcoholic warmth, which would probably lend it the ability to mix well in drinks.
Verdict: This one has enough of interest that it would certainly be a contender for mixology purposes, especially given its reasonable price tag. The bottle design looks pretty groovy too.
I’m hoping to blog each day of December* with the contents of my Advent mezcalendar which the lovely Daisy bought me for my birthday. I’d long wanted to try this smoky cousin of tequila since I read about Carrie’s trips to Oxaca in the excellent Perzine You Don’t Get There From Here. We finally came across it in cocktails in Paris this Spring and since then we’ve been trying it at every opportunity. The great thing about these calendars is that you’re able to try a number of different mezcals without having to pay bar prices or fork out for a whole bottle at home. We’re quite new to the flavours in these but expect to find characters similar to Islay whiskys and tequila – please bear with us! Hopeful by the end of this we’ll have settled on a joven to buy for home mixology and perhaps a reposado or anejo for drinking neat.
So behind the door on day one is perhaps the most widely known brand, Ilegal Mezcal Joven (unaged). This is the third largest selling mezcal in the world; so is quite widely available (as mezcals go!) We’ve had this in cocktails before but how does it fare as a neat spirit?
Daisy found it to have a slightly plasticky burning rubber aroma which reminded her of “new car smell”. This was even ore noticeable with added water. Taste wise its lightly smoky and fairly bitter, almost IPA-like.
Steve found to be quite gentle on the nose, with a low level of smoke and fruity coconut water/ agave notes. It certainly taste quite sweet with agave syrup and a touch of smoke, fairly brief in finishing but returning with a flourish of citus at the end. Adding water brought out some suggestions of cooling menthol.
Verdict: Neither of us were particularly keen on it; and for this reason it wouldn’t be a contender for our cocktail cabinet.