Once upon a time, I remember chants of “eat the worm, eat the worm” whenever a bottle of mezcal was passed around. Thank the tequila gods those rather disgusting times are long gone. The ancient intoxicating beverage called Mezcal has really come into its own with serious quality improvements and brands that offer tasty, complex flavor profiles. If you’re curious, and I hope you are, you may be wondering what are the best mezcal brands? Since the number of available brands has increased, it has become more difficult to figure out which mezcal to drink. This brief guide will help you to choose and enjoy tequila’s cousin, mezcal.
Mezcal is produced mainly in the Mexican state of Oaxaca, but not exclusively. It is made from a number of different types of agave plants, not just the blue agave like tequila. The many flavor nuances vary based upon the which type of agave is used, the water source, and even the soil in the area where it is produced.
With Mezcal, expect earthy smokiness that is somewhat reminiscent of certain types of Scotch.
Okay, on to some brand names and information that will help you to choose the right mezcal for you.
What are the Best Brands of Mezcal?
Ultra Premium Brands
An ultra premium mezcal that is made with the rare agave cupreata is Wahaka Vino de Mezcal Michoacan Capriatos produced by Wahaka. Only 44 bottles of this double distilled treat are produced each year and the $300 per bottle price reflects that super small batch run. From each sip, expect a damp earthiness that moves toward gentle citrus and herb flavors. Considering both the price and bottle run, this is a rare treat.
Two other ultra premiums mezcal brands are Pierde Almas Conejo and Del Maguey Iberico at $200 per bottle each.
The Iberico is a mezcal de pechuga which means that the mezcal is distilled a second time with a chicken or turkey breast cooked as it hangs over the still by the hot vapors. This supposedly adds to the distilling mezcals flavor. The Del Maguey Iberico uses an Iberico ham instead of the more traditional turkey which translates to added flavors of roasted vegetables and a caramel smokiness.
The Piedre Almas Conejo is also a mezcal de pechuga. They use a wild rabbit instead of the traditional turkey or chicken breast. Expect herbal and dried fruit flavors with each sip of this totally locally sourced mezcal.
Super Premium Mezcals
Our next artisanal brand of mezcal is El Jolgorio Madrecuixe at $135 a bottle. As the name implies, it is produced using only Madrecuize which is a variety of agave harvested wild. Only 250 bottles are produced each year using un-aged agave. Complex vegetable flavors abound in this 94 proof, in your face mezcal.
Mezcales de Leyenda Guerrero is a brand that uses only small batch producers for their label. Their Leyenda brand is unblended and produced using agave cupreata. This $80 a bottle macho mezcal dominated by straight up agave flavor, chile, and smoke. No excuses here.
Premium Mezcal Brands
Next up at $65 per bottle, there’s Benesin Mezcal Tobala. This organic mezcal uses agave that is harvested wild. Expect a relative smoothness with floral and smoky hints.
Montelobos Mezcal Joven is our final mezcal brand. This Double Gold Medal winner at the 2013 San Francisco World Spirits competition is made with unaged certified organic agave espadin. They use only traditional and sustainable methods in its production. With a balanced smooth and smoky flavor, it has a wider appeal. The $35 dollar per bottle price won’t put too much of a dent in your wallet either.
I’m hopeful that this is a great primer as you search for the best brand of mezcal both for your tastes and for your budget. All I can say is, “Good Luck and Cheers”. Enjoy, my friends. Also enjoy the rest of the Things Men Buy website!