On Sunday evening August 20th I attended a Mezcal night party. The event was held at Salvation Taco, a restaurant in the Pod 39 hotel located at 145 East 39th Street in Manhattan.
The event was a benefit for El Rosario A. C. library in Santa Catarina Minas in Oaxaca, Mexico and was a walk around tasting of over 50 mescal from 16 of the top producers.
I have to admit that before attending this party my knowledge of mezcal was very limited. I always thought that mescal was the tequila wannabe with the worm in the bottle. I learned that much mescal is made from small, family run producers using traditional methods.
To put it simply, all tequila are mezcal but not all mezcal are tequila. Tequila must be made from the Blue Agave while mezcal can be made from many varieties (over 30, many of them wild) of the agave plant. Tequila is site specific while mezcal can be legally made anywhere in Mexico though most come from Oaxaca. In tequila the agave are baked in a stone oven while in mezcal the agave are slow roasted in pits lined with volcanic rock which give it its signature smokiness.
On a bottle of artisanal Mezcal you should find information about he village, state and type of agave used in the production stated on the label. In addition, numbers on the label (2, 3, 4 etc.) show the age of the agave plant when it was harvested.
There were an overwhelming amount of spirits poured, I would have like to sit down with a couple of producers and have a horizontal tasting but in the spirit of the walk-around tasting I sampled many.
Some of the bottles I tried:
Gracias a Dios “Cuxie”
Gracias a Dios “Tobala”
Nuestra Soledad “Santiago Matalan”
Nuestra Soledad “San Luis del Rio”
Mezcales de Leyenda “Guerrero”
Mezcales de Leyenda “Puebla”
Bruxo “N° 1”
Bruxo “N° 2”
Montelbos Mezcal Joven
Siete Misterios “Coyote”
Siete Misterios “Mexicanos”
Del Maguey “San Pablo Ameyaltepec”
Real Minero “Barril”
Real Minero “Espadin”