One of the hardest things to get from someone involved in making mezcal is their list of favorite mezcals. Because their list usually begins and ends with their own brand. You’re really pushing these guys when you ask them to offer up the competition.
As I write this, my mouth is watering. I’ve been to Sola de Vega and have had mezcal milled in a canoe, or canoa as we say Oaxaca. I’ve walked the agave fields far from the road in San Dionesio and San Baltazar. In my personal collection, I’ve got plenty of mezcal that you’ll never find in the US. It’s only available when you stumble upon a mezcalero deeply hidden who cares deeply about his art, his craft.
Here’s what I’ve learned, and what Eduardo included at the end of his list… “You cannot leave this world believing that you know about mezcal if you never leave your comfort space and try these works of art.”
What he’s saying is this… get out of your box, get off the beaten track, explore, live a little and see if you can find a few of the unforgettable mezcals available all across My Mexico!
And now, I give the floor to Eduardo…
When Dave asked me to recommend five mezcals I was troubled. I’m part of the Wahaka Mezcal team, the 100% Mexican brand that features more than 20 different Mezcals in the US. I understand that I cannot be very objective and fair with other good brands available in the US.
So I decided to recommend five brands that are lead by some young and very talented people in Oaxaca, México. They are producing exceptionally high quality mezcals that you can’t find in the open market in the US (yet).
So here is my list of Five Artisanal Mezcals [in no particular order] to taste when you go to México that you will never forget…
Mezcal Chaneque Joven Jabalí… 48 AbV by Maestro Mezcalillero Gonzalo Martinez Serna, made in Santiago Matatlán, Oaxaca. Milled in Tahona, fermented in open wood, double distillation in an Arabic distiller. This unforgettable mezcal has a beautiful “perleado” and keeps a little red color after it is distilled. Chaneque is one of my favorite brands as they always respect the agave and its traditions. Chaneque always pays more than the fair price for the agave. The dynamic lawyer, Juan Carlos Rodriguez, is who makes this fantastic Mezcal brand possible.
Mezcal Jarabe de Pico Joven Espadín… 46 AbV by Maestro Mezcalillero Clemente Martinez, made at San Dionisio Ocotepec, Oaxaca. Milled in Tahona and fermented in open wood, double distillation in an Arabic distiller. This beauty keeps the agave flavor in your mouth forever… behind this great work is Horacio Arenas Nava, who isn’t in his first rodeo.
Mezcal Piquete Ziña Joven Tepeztate… 49 AbV Made by Armando Hernández at Santiago Matatlán Oaxaca. With traditional artisanal methods this “Tepe” is an awesome Mezcal who gives you the earthy flavor of a 25-year-old agave who grows in the wild. Victor Hernández, “El Mitch,” is who makes this amazing innovative brand possible.
Aguas Del Corazón Joven Barril… This mezcal is distilled in clay and totally milled by hand with wood (canoa). It’s a treasure coming from Sola de Vega, Oaxaca by Maestro Joaquin Garcia. This Mezcal enters your mouth and disappears like a ghost, leaving your nose with mint and agave senses. It is very smooth, even with its 50 AbV. “Chapeau” to Andy Sanchez Lopez, an awesome Mezcal lady who creates this water from her heart.
Rio Revuelto Joven Ensamble… With a perfect balance of Espadín and Madre Cuishe, this Ensamble at 47AbV, made by the Master Ramón Cruz in Miahuatlán, Oaxaca, is the perfect example of when even using an electric “desgarradora” in the process, your final product can be excellent. Erica Cano, a Mezcal activist and great “connoisseur,” is the person who deserves a lot of the credit for this great Mezcal.