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La Altena Distillery has a bit of a cult following in Mexico because of their high-quality Tequilas. They have been operating since the early 1800's and it remains a family operation to this day. Their 100% Blue Agave is double-distilled and bottled without any additions, even water. The Añejo is aged for 18 months in used American Whiskey barrels which give it this slightly amber color and notes of caramel and cinnamon.
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
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 When I first popped the cork, it felt slightly muted and withdrawn, but within 20 minutes all the exuberance I remembered from previous bottles was there again.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 makers of Fortaleza Tequila have been in the business for over 140 years. Their approach is entirely traditional, maintaining the same recipe and equipment as their ancestors. The mineral-rich agave from the surrounding Tequila Valley is cooked very slowly in a small brick oven, stone-crushed, fermented in wooden tanks, and then double distilled in copper pots. Each lot of Reposado is aged and bottled separately after spending roughly seven months in used American Oak barrels that have been re-chipped and re-charred for more complexity in the final product.
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
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 agave that Edgar calls Warash is most likely indigenous to the Sierra Norte Mountains. At least the folks at the Consejo Regulador de Mezcal down in Oaxaca City seem to think so, as they have never seen anything like it anywhere else. Edgar first encountered a solitary plant as he was walking in the mountains and became intrigued. After monitoring this sole agave, he was able to obtain seeds, and propagate it on a wider scale. After a few attempts at distilling it, this year Mezcal Tosba has finally been able to release the first ever commercial batch of Warash! This is a truly knockout mezcal and unlike anything I've ever tasted. Wave after wave of roasted pineapple, red berry fruit, wild raspberries, lime zest and a green, herbal character. Extravagant yet balanced, there is beautiful viscosity on the palate and almost a honeyed edge. To tame the raw distillate, Edgar rested this batch in glass for a year and a half, and only 180 bottles were produced in this first batch. Having tasted it at the palenque and then again in New York, I can safely say it is one of the best mezcals I have tried this year. 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
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