Following on from Part 1:
The Leyenda range highlights regional differences, with five mezcals made from five different agaves from five different growing regions – all of which are USDA Organic & Fair Trade certified. Leyenda say they were the first to produce mezcal with an organic seal.
Leyenda San Luis Potosi  Ob. 100% Salmiana agave 42% INFO
The Salmiana agave [commonly known as the maguey Serrano], takes between 7-10 years to reach maturity. This mezcal was produced by Juan Jose Hernandez.
- N: We are in business! The nose is almost curried with a cheesy leafy funk and some plastics,..
- T: ,.. followed up with green leaf & indian Jalebi-style sugars.
- F: We are quickly into a bone dry, ivy leaf greenness, finishing with more of a minerality.
- C: The essence of mezcal lives here. This is great.
Scores 88 points
Leyenda Puebla  Ob. 100% Potatorum agave 48% INFO
This particular agave is harvested from a large sustainably cultivated area, under the guardianship of the Alva family and 4th generation mezcalero Don Aaron. The agave potatorum is commonly known as Tobala, or Cenizo in Puebla. Taking between 8-11 years to reach maturity, 14-16kg of this agave is required to produce 1 litre of mezcal.
- N: This is a pleasing gear change with shoe polish, varnish and beeswax notes and a coastal [Islay] character, continuing with soot, coal dust, road tar, sweet vanilla, apple,….
- T: More coal tar & road tar,… truly an Islay blend! With a creamy mouthfeel, it’s perfect taken neat.
- F: More shoe polish & beeswax and then into medical lozenges. Gotta love these combos.
- C: The fire pits speak candidly. Super mezcal for peat-heads.
Scores 89 points
Leyenda Durango  Ob. 100% Durangensis agave 47% INFO
It is said that Leyenda’s Durango producers see themselves as guardians for harvesting, protecting & preserving their agave through traditional practises for the next generations to come. The agave they harvest are so remote and small-scale, it’s unlikely that wild harvesting would affect this particular source. Grown on a high dessert-like plateau, the Durangensis agave is around five times smaller than the regular espadin.
- N: A creamy, vanilla sponge sweetness.
- T: Earthy-like with an almost literal soil-like sweetness.
- F: Finishes with a light version of the heavier, harder-punching Puebla.
- C: Great stuff once again.
Scores 87 points
Leyenda Guerrero  Ob. 100% Cupreata agave 45%
INFO: ‘This wild agave Cupreata, known as Papalote or Ancho, grows wild below the deciduous forest and oak trees. This agave takes between 7 and 10 years to reach maturity, and will takes approximately 14-17kg of agave to produce 1 liter of mezcal. With much pride we sustainably harvest these wild magueys‘.
- N: This offers a particular spearmint & peppermint-sweet note coupled with a little cheesiness.
- T: More mint with a saltiness.
- F: Turns surprisingly meaty.
- C: Good again but I forgot to score it. Chatting again!
With thanks to Pablo Angel Lugo, ‘The Dave Worthington of Mezcal’ and an artist too. Pablo, like Dave, demonstrates that if you’re passionate enough and keen to help out, you can become a brand ambassador.
After a super chat about mezcal, Pablo took me over to the Spirit Cartel stand where I discover Koch El.
I’m soon greeted by Benji who is wearing a very cool shirt that rivals my own. He kindly takes me through Koch El’s range of six.
Koch El Espadin  Ob. 100% agave 47.2%
C: Good & straight with a medicinal finish.
Scores 82 points
Koch El Ensamble de Ejutla  Ob. 100% espadin agave 47.76%
This ensamble is made up of four different agave types that are blended at the beginning of the production process, before being burned, fermented and distilled.
C: Another decent standard mezcal.
Scores 82 points
Koch El Madrecuishe  Ob. 100% agave 46.74%
C: My scant notes read: a mild cheesy funk with a light meatiness. The quality of Koch El so far, is proving extremely consistent.
Scores 82 points
Koch El Barril  Ob. 100% agave 47%
Carlos Moreno [founder of Koch El], says that it takes on average, 11kg of agave to produce one bottle of mezcal. Grown closer together than other maguey, the barril agave matures at 12-15 years [or more], producing huge tube-shaped pinas that weigh up to 120kg. It’s distilled in a series of 12 or more clay pots.
- C: Taste-wise, it’s a green plant-based bitter one compared to the others, with some complexity lurking within. Now I want to do a Barril flight.
Scores 83 points
Below are espadin agave fibres, delicious snacks to suck on. The watery-sugar cane savoury<sweet taste is of Indian sweets and liquorice sticks.
Whilst a useful compost source, some producers use discarded agave off-cuts to fill in the gaps of the pina fires. Once packed in, a tarpaulin may be placed on top and a hole made in order to regularly pour in water. This creates more heat, just like a lava-rock sauna.
Koch El Coyote  Ob. 100% 46.62% PHD
- C: A firm one. For malt-heads, it’s Mannochmore-esque.
Scores 82 points
Koch El Tepeztate  Ob. 100% agave 46.85% MR3/5
This agave ripens after 12-15 years.
- N: My first truly-direct butyric=cheesy one today.
- T: Proceeds with a now familiar, mezcal-funky style.
- F: Sweet with aniseed.
- C: My favourite of the bunch, with it’s clear essence of agave coupled with a fire-pit & mala-lactose complexity.
Scores 85 points
With thanks to Benji who saved the best till last and persisted with me for an hour. He tells me to find G4 [coming up in Part 3], a very great call indeed.