Ed Draves Samples… Mezcal El Rey Zapoteco

I’ve got to be honest, I can’t believe we have not reviewed mezcal from El Rey Zapoteco before. As one of the oldest established brands in Oaxaca, these guys have a great reputation. Just look at how often they show up on our “5 Mezcals Everyone Needs to Experience” lists.

Also, let me just say, personally, I love their mezcal. For me, it has that it factor. That intangible thing that sets it apart from so many other mezcals. It probably has a lot to do with how long they’ve been at their craft. Whatever the reason, trust me on this, the next time you visit Oaxaca, make sure you trek out to Matatlán, give these guys a visit and pick up some of the best mezcal you’re going to find.

And with that, let me turn it over to Ed Draves as he reviews and provides tasting notes for three of the offerings from El Rey Zapoteco.



Brand… El Rey Zapoteco

Category… All of the artisinal mezcals reviewed here today are harvested by hand, cooked in an inverted stone oven process, crushed in a stone tehona and distilled in a classic copper distillery.

Variety… Joven Espadin

Proof… 90

ABV… 45%

Tasting notes… What an approachable, compelling mezcal. It has a nice floral nose, is a little peppery and has a nice light, very clean finish. You’ll get some minerality, owing to its surroundings and also hints of allspice. It reminds a little of hot apple cider. This is a wonderful mezcal to serve in the fall here in the US.

Maguey Rating… Easily 4 magueys.



Variety… Cuishe

Proof… 90

ABV… 45%

Tasting notes… Here we’ve got a little classic mezcal smokiness, not overpowering, but there. It’s a very smooth, flavorful drink that gave me hints of fresh linen. It has a long finish, more than 2 minutes, that gives you just a bit of pepper. Wonderful drinkability.

Maguey Rating… 4 magueys.


Variety… Tepextate

Proof… 80

ABV… 40%

Tasting notes… WOW! This mezcal explodes in your mouth. It is mouth filling and intense, yet it is not too much, or not too hot. With a little zing of citrus zest, it danced across the tip of my tongue. Like the cuishe, this mezcal has a fantastically long finish. Without a doubt, one of my favorites.

Maguey Rating… 5 magueys.

About our ratings… Here’s where we start.  Ed Draves, of Buffalo, New York reviews all of our mezcals.

We love mezcal, but more importantly, we love artisanal mezcal.  The type that is hand made, following the centuries old traditions passed down from one generation to the next.

We only review small batch handmade 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 mezcal aficionados , that to truly appreciate mezcal, sooner or later you need to visit us in Oaxaca.

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