We’ve been asked many times how we do our mezcal tastings. So let’s pull the curtain back a little and give you the skinny.
First, all of our tastings are done by Ed Draves. Ed has spent many years in the wine business, selling, buying, tasting and everything in between. Then one day he found himself with me in Oaxaca and I took him to a palenque. He was hooked.
That day started early and ended late. Somewhere about 3:00pm, he told me he couldn’t drink anymore. And then he confided in me that he seldom drank anything. “Ed” I said, “How can you be a wine taster and not drink?” That’s when he told me he spits. Apparently you just can’t drink everything you taste without killing your liver.
Since that day, Ed has been tasting mezcal and tequila for us. Our mezcal for tasting is sourced in two ways. One, through Premier Wine and Spirits where Ed is the “wine guy.” As they get new product, often at Ed’s urging, he gets a bottle to sample. That represents about 25% of the mezcals Dave Miller’s Mexico samples and publishes.
The second way we are sourced is through our mezcal contacts. We purchase, or are given bottles that we then send to Ed for tasting. But there’s a catch. Recently we started sending Ed mezcal in unmarked generic bottles. We number them all and keep a control list back at the office. Ed tastes, and then emails his notes back to us based solely on a number.
In this way Ed is not influenced by brand familiarity. What we are getting is a “clean” review, based just on what he has in front of him at that moment. No pretension, no influence of a brand and certainly, no feeling of a need to review mezcal favorably based on a relationship.
In short, the great majority of our mezcal tastings are now 100% blind.
The above video, Mezcal Tasting 101, is one we shot last year with Ed in Oaxaca on how you can do a tasting. It’s good stuff, even if the cinematography is a little lacking. Give it a look. And if you want some great unbiased mezcal reviews, complete with tasting notes, prices and availability, check out our #DMX review page. And remember, come back often as it is constantly being updated.
Finally, many of you have asked us how we do our ratings, or determine how many magueys, agaves or sotols something gets.
So, here’s the ratings skinny!
We only review small batch artisanal 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 4 or 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, Dave Miller’s Mexico and many mezcaleros, that to truly appreciate mezcal, sooner or later you need to visit us in Oaxaca.
If you want us to review your mezcal, tequila, or other Mexico based spirit or wine, drop us a line and we’ll get you our mailing address.