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Tapatio Reposado is how aged tequila should be. The notes of spice and pepper coming from oak aging integrate wonderfully with the natural sweetness and tropical fruit quality of the Blue Weber agave. As you take more time with this tequila, it reveals hints of caramel, cacao, toasted coconut and floral perfume. A grassy undertone leads to a crisp and mineral finish. Great as a sipper, this finds a perfect home in cocktails,from Margaritas and Palomas to a Tequila Old-Fashioned. Oskar Kostecki
'Tío' Pedro Hernandez Arellanes is a maestro mezcalero, with over fifty years of distilling under his belt. After many of those years working for other distilleries, he was able to build his own palenque 'La Esperanza' adjacent to his house in Santa Catarina Minas. His clay pot stills are lined with shaggy 'bagasse' (post-distillation agave fiber); opposite to the stills are his open-top pine fermentation tinas. Near where the roasted piñas rest, a trough (known as a canoe) is carved into the floor, to hold the piñas as they are crushed by large, very heavy, mallets. Pedro does have a tiny mechanical shredder, but prefers not to use it because he isn't impressed by the resulting spirit. Cultivated Espadín (A. angustafolia) is hand-harvested and cut down to roast in earthen oven. After roasting, the piñas are crushed by mallet and the fibers are mixed with well water to ferment in the tina. Distillation is twice through clay pot still. Proofed to 49% with tails, this batch of Espadín yielded 66L (~88 btls). We were able to taste a recently distilled batch of Espadín when we visited Pedro and his wife Andrea in September of this year and were impressed by the already complex (if a bit rowdy) spirit and could tell it had a bright future ahead. The batch in NY has had time to settle into this complexity. Banana skin and nut brittle, chilis in vinegar, banana, dark chocolate, balanced by a green grass and bright minerality. Fantastic! Cari Bernard
Produced from the wild agave Selmiana in the high altitude Central Mexican Plateau in the state of San Luis Potosi, this is a beautiful foil to traditional Oaxacan mezcal. The agave is not roasted, but cooked (similar to Tequila) resulting in a spirit that is not smokey, but instead bursts on the palate with a crazy array of flavors. Herbal and mineral tones weave their way through a bright citrus and floral character. There's a slight sourness, a funk that I associate with cheese rind, and noticeable acidity, which is quite shocking for a distillate. The wilder side of mezcal. What I also notice with my bottle of Selmiana is that it changes quite remarkably once open. When I first popped the cork, it felt slightly muted and withdrawn, but within 20 minutes all the exuberance I remembered from previous bottles was there again. It is fascinating watching the bottle change and evolve over a period of weeks. Oskar Kostecki
The brand Farolito comes from batches selected by Ulises Torrentera, owner of the legendary In Situ Mezcaleria in Oaxaca City. This batch is distilled by mezcalero Virgilio Ramirez in the town of Santa Maria Ixcatlan. The papalometl (agave potatorum) was crushed by hand, fermented in bovine leather vats, and distilled twice in clay stills. The natural sweetness and concentration of sugars from the agave is beautifully contrasted with an underlying savory characteristic. Vivid tropical fruit is coupled with herbs, earthiness and umami. The palate is rich, viscous and mouth-coating. A very intriguing mezcal, and one you want to spend some time with. A great introduction of the In Situ range to the New York market. Oskar Kostecki
Jabalí is notoriously difficult to ferment and distill. The higher level of saponins in the plant causes a large amount of foam to be produced at both stages, which usually means two things are possible: one is you lose some of your fermenting liquid to foamy overflow, and the other is the lyne arm of your still can break from the pressure from the foam. Sometimes three distillations are needed to come to a clear, more refined product, and sometimes people will retrofit their still to protect against the breakage possibility. Needless to say Jabalí a bit of a challenge, and we don't see much in the states in general. For this bottling, the piñas are roasted in earthen pit for three days followed by a five-day rest before being broken down by mechanical shredder and then smashed further by horse-drawn tahona. Fermentation is in pine tina with well water. Brothers Poncho and Chucho Sánchez have been able to pull off only double distilling the Jabalí by under-filling their copper alembic still for each pass. Final proofing to 47.46% ABV is with puntas and colas (April 2018). Green olive and a bit of vinyl, pollen, and bread yeast, greengage plum and a touch of volitility. The palate is high-toned with notes of pink peppercorn and brine, with roasted carrot, nutmeg and dark chocolate on the finish, such an enjoyable spirit we're excited to see where this bottle goes. Cari Bernard
Espadín from Ejutla! Félix Ramírez (Mendez) is a second-generation mezcalero based in the town of Yogana, about an hour and a half drive south of Oaxaca de Juárez. We're very excited to offer his first bottling to make it to NYC. The Espadín piñas are roasted in earthen pit for three days before a five day rest. Milling is by tahona and the fibers ferment with well water in Cypress tina followed by a single distillation through a copper alembic still with refrescadera typical to the Ejutla region, having a cool water-submerged montera above the pot with two rectifying plates inside. The cold water and the plates work to further distill the vapors, so a single pass is usually all that's needed to get close to the desired spirit, then proofed to 46.69% ABV with puntas and colas (Aug 2018). Cari Bernard
I'm not sure we've ever had a mezcal from Victor and Emanuel Ramos we haven't loved. The father-son duo is just a constant source of excellent spirits, based in Miahuatlán, Oaxaca. The term 'Coyote' is used quite loosely in regards to agave, and doesn't always mean the same thing depending on where the plant is coming from. In this case, it's a hybrid, a Madrecuixe (A. karwinskii) that has been pollinated by a Tobalá (A. potatorum). Piñas roast in earthen pit for six days, followed by a week-long rest, they are tahona-milled, and fermentation is in Cypress tina with well water. Distillation is twice in copper alembic still with refrescadera (no plates), and final proofing to 49.94% ABV is with puntas and colas (May 2019). Burnt squash, bay leaf, celery salt, and a light mustiness out of the glass. Bright minerality, cardamom pod, peanut brittle and warm cinnamon are loud and clear on the palate. Very complex and punchy and should be fantastic with more time open to mix with air in the bottle. Cari Bernard
The Espadín from Real Minero is consistently one of our favorite examples of this particular agave. Harvested in Santa Caterina Minas and distilled in the traditional clay pot stills of the area, the usual tropical fruit and hot rock mineral flavor profile of agave Espadin is accentuated with and earthy and savory edge. Real Minero is now expertly run by Graciela Angeles and her brother Edgar, after the passing of their father, the legendary mezcalero Don Lorenzo Angeles in 2016. We're incredibly excited to offer this particular batch of Real Minero Espadín from the 2016 harvest, one of the last distilled by Don Lorenzo! After a few years in glass, it is drinking beautifully, with a great palate-coating viscosity and weight added to the usual qualities of Real Minero Espadín. For all mezcal lovers out there, this is a bottle not to be missed. Oskar Kostecki
The ancestral batches from Real Minero are always indelible experiences. For a mezcal to qualify as an "ancestral" it must adhere to the strictest methods of traditional production: the agave must be crushed by hand (usually by mallets in a wooden canoe), fermentation must include the agave fibers, and distillation must be done on clay pot stills. Real Minero usually release their mezcals under the "mezcal artesanal" designation, meaning they adhere to all the ancestral methods, except they crush the agave using a tahona (large stone wheel) instead of by hand. The ancestral designation is reserved for the very special releases, and that is the case with this beautiful blend of agave Marteño and agave Barril. One of the most intense Real Minero's we've ever seen, clocking in at 53.38% abv. Viscous and incredibly mouth-coating on the palate, this is wildly complex, with a combination of earthy and funky characteristics blending with an intense tropical fruit quality; mango, pineapple, apricot, mirabelle plum, and a hint of cherry. An incredible batch! Oskar Kostecki
The clay pot shows incredibly well in this particular batch, not overbearing but present, and harmoniously integrated. Savory notes of hazelnuts, raw cacao, and barbecue mesh with sweeter hints of dried apricots, raisins, brown sugar, and cocoa butter. I also find mint, dried oregano and wet gravel. During the Real Minero fiesta, in between all the dancing bodies, pounding music, and smell of charred meat, this was the bottle I found myself most often reaching for. Oskar Kostecki
The plots for Tosba's Espadin are scattered throughout the valley, ranging in altitude from 1100m close to the village of Lachiroig to about 600m around the palenque. The growing conditions and maturation times vary greatly. Lower down the mountain, due to the more tropical conditions,the Espadin can mature in as little as 6-7 years, while the plots at higher elevations take up to 11 years. At the moment Edgar is co-fermenting and co-distilling plants taken from all the different parcels, but on my visit we talked about the future possibility of separating the Espadin according to terroir. Though currently we are in love with this new release. Higher proof than the earlier batches, it still retains its hallmark vivacity and acidity. The nose is all crushed rock and tropical fruit (banana!), with a faint whiff of aged Parmesan. The palate shows notes of guava and watermelon bubblegum, with a floral element reminiscent of hibiscus. There is a hint of thyme and cardamom, along with a smoky, charcoal note. Viva Mezcal Tosba, this is sensational Espadin! Oskar Kostecki
The first release we've seen from Job Cortés, the son of Margarito Cortés, famed maestro mezcalero from Miahuatlan and the author of some of our favorite Mezcalosfera releases of that past few years. As with most bottlings from Mezcalosfera (the export label for the Oaxacan mezcal bar Mezcaloteca) this Madrecuixe release is a tiny batch of 120 liters, with only a handful of bottles making it to New York; we tried to get as much as we possibly could! This mezcal was very impressive, with a vibrancy to both the nose and the palate, showing notes of citrus, lime, lime peels, herbs, purple flowers, and a hint of earthiness. The palate is punchy, lively and intense, with more floral character and a hint of tanginess and acidity. A beautiful example of agave Karwinskii from Miahuatlan. Oskar Kostecki
Neta works with a group of mezcaleros from around Miahuatlán, Oaxaca. The maestro behind this release is Candido García Cruz, who has been distilling for decades. Ninety Espadín (Agave angustifolia) plants were left ‘capón, or quiotudo’ (the plant’s flowering stalk is cut early and the plant remains unharvested, concentrating sugars in the piña) for a full year before harvesting. The piñas roasted for two weeks in an earthen oven, and rested for a week before being broken down by a mix of machete and mechanical mill. This was followed by a two-day rest for the fibers and then a sixteen-day fermentation in cypress vats and a double distillation in a copper pot still, proofed to 49.15% ABV, 900L produced, under 200L of which made it to us in NYC. Harvest was in 2015, and there is an inherent complexity and a subtle balance, with a mix of florals, cinnamon and lemon oil and creamy mouthfeel, this is a truly elegant Espadín. Cari Bernard
Candido García Cruz and his family harvested 300 wild ‘capón/quiotudo’ (see Neta Espadín note) Bicuixe (Agave karwinskii) from the red, rocky soils of the Sierra Sur region. The process remains similar to the Espadín, albeit on a faster timeline: conical earthen oven roast for eight days, three-day rest before machete/axe/mill crushing, one day of rest for the fibers, and fermentation in four cypress vats lasting over eight days. Twice-distilled in copper pot still. I feel like I need more time with this, because just a taste was not enough. Banana peel, green cardamom pod, loquat, preserved lemon and florals, the palate is a mix of sunflowers and savory herbs and I wish I had better notes. More forthcoming after I buy the bottle and take it home for more 'research'! Cari Bernard