I was sitting one day with Cecilia Rios, La Niña del Mezcal, at In Situ, the classic mezcaleria in Oaxaca when I decided to ask her thoughts on five mezcals everyone should experience. One of the mezcals she mentioned was Marca Negra. When I asked why, she answered because they have one of the best bottles in the business.
There’s no doubt about that. Heavy, green tinted with that embedded fingerprint, it is a marvel to hold in your hand.
But Marca Negra is more than a bottle, good as that is. They’ve got a fine mezcal. John McEvoy, the Mezcal PhD and author of the book, “Holy Smoke! It’s Mezcal!” liked it enough to include it in his Mezcal Starter Kit. We would agree!
Here’s our review, from Ed Draves, a Buffalo native and our resident taster of all things mezcal that we come across.
Category… Espadin Joven
Origin… San Juan del Rio, Oaxaca
Tasting Notes… Smokey sweet/tart nose with some fruit in the background. Very nice. Has a little burn with orange citrusy notes and a very minerally finish.
Maguey Rating… 3 magueys
Availability… Widely available in the US
Cost… $55.00 USD
Explaining our ratings…
Here’s where we start. We love mezcal, but more importantly, we love artisanal mezcal. The type that and hand made, following the centuries old traditions passed down from one generation to the next.
We only review small batch mezcal so if you are expecting to read about mezcals that come from some 10,000 liter vat, you won’t find them here. We don’t believe that they truly represent the heart and soul of the truly magical mezcals that are produced in Oaxaca and other places around the great country of Mexico.
We rate everything on a scale of 1 to 5 magueys.
If we write it up, it’s good and will be guaranteed at least 1 maguey. 3 magueys is top notch and the cherished 5 maguey rating is reserved for the really special stuff. If you are fortunate to have a mezcal that gets 5 magueys, consider yourself fortunate, because it is a top of the mountain spirit, in the same class as a fine French wine or a treasured single malt Scotch.
Finally, not all of the mezcals we review are available in the US. This reflects the view of Ulises Torrentera of In Situ Mezcaleria, and many mezcaleros, that to truly appreciate mezcal, sooner or later you need to visit us in Oaxaca.