Following on from part 1 [I guess], here are some notes from an old mezcal session I enjoyed when I had zero mezcal experience – slightly less than I have now. Understandably, most of my references then were whisky-based, so an interesting read for malt heads perhaps?
Initially lined up in abv order, we decided to re-order them based on nose smokiness & freakiness.
Ilegal Anejo  Ob. 100% agave 40% [50cl] WF82: ‘I think this would please many a whisky drinker’.
- N: Likably sweet, buttery and whisky-like with notes of creamy fudge & caramel. It evolves into more than a passing resemblance to Diplomatico’s rums – i.e. like warm vanilla icecream in a glass yet only a fraction as sweet.
- T: This must be the casks talking [aged for over a year in new or re-charred whisky barrels], as it’s delicious, highly drinkable, light, whisky-like malty juice. Carries on with a straight ahead, unfaltering delivery and a decent enough weight behind it. Becomes mildly sweet and creamy [full fat-ish], mid-palate.
- F: Sweet & creamy with a suggestion of lime and a little struck match – a note that creeps up on you. I can’t imagine how the following mezcals will finish like, ash-wise, given this was the least smoky of the bunch. With decent form throughout, I perceived sour-cream Maltesers at the death.
- C: As a mezcal novice, I found this aged spirit akin to a rum mixed with a little [peaty<smoky] whisky & a touch of tequila – grain-like throughout however and therefore a clear malternative.
Scores 83 points
TAKE 2, possibly from a newer batch:
Ilegal Anejo  Ob. 100% agave Lot #05 [btl #3251/5280] 40% [50cl]
Whilst we are here: I got to try this again the following day. I noticed that this version was clearer/lighter in colour compared to yesterday’s wishy-washy yellow-y/brown illegal.
- N: Comparing it to an Islay whisky, this is more on burnt char than peat, though those young Laphroaig’s seem heavily charred these days. Slightly detergent-y and vegetal, or should I say cactal, this is a dryish lighter mezcal, one that’s easy to quaff.
- T: Softly sweet and vegetal smoky. This could be perceived as in ‘ok’ malt or a decent Mezcal, depending on your view.
- F: Continues fair with a sweet-vegetal (ice) creamy, icing sugar finish – that core cactal vegetal note remaining firm. Light consolidated burning smoke with a lingering cocoa & buttery maltiness.
- C: Much like last night’s Ilegal, a straight ahead yet decent quality mezcal without any wackiness, one that effortlessly appeals to my whisky palate.
Scores 82 points
Del Maguey Vida  Ob. Espadin agave 42% [WF]83
Single village mezcal.
- N: Whoa, I’ve smelled that before! As a smoky/farmy peat-like, salty cucumber-vegetal number, it’s something like an Elements of Islay Caol ila or one of the more recent Ardbeg Day releases [Perpetuum for example]. It’s Octomore-like too, clearly far lighter yet with just as much confidence, but more than anything it’s like clairins. Continues with creamy & nutty cigar ash, iron fillings, sweet Laphroaig [Select], mayonnaise-y and Wensleydale cheese>cranberries with damp clay and nondescript shrub blossom.
- T: There are a few ‘Eastern’ flavours on the turn before the Laphroaig-esque notes kick back in at high power. Though we’re only at 42% abv, it’s actually a tad astringent but also delicious hitting juice.
- F: More young Laphroaig [Select] on the finish, oily-smoky dry with some banana, green hedge leaf and cinnamon notes. Really exciting spirit with plenty of bitter herbal smoky movements to the end.
- C: “Flavour & sensation” concludes Ashley. A malternative, a rum-alternative,… all sorts, love it!
Scores 86 points
Del Maguey San Luis del Rio  Ob. Espadin agave 47% [WF]84
‘Thai food in a glass’.
- N: Similar to the Vida with a more burned oily/garage-y/tarry core. Also, there’s cucumber and sweet chilli sauce with lemon grass, galangal, putrid vegan Parmesan cheese and coriander [Ashley]. Eventually and sensationally, it resembles so closely a Thai green curry, it’s jaw-dropping.
- T: More Thai green curry though with less coconut cream, moving more towards galangal notes & that peppery broth you get at every on-street Thai food stall.
- F: Dryish yet salivating in the same breath, savoury-sweet with cucumber, burned ice-cream?, brandy on pancakes, more vegan cheese, metallic vibes, black bananas, and yet green banana skins too?!…. so much. There’s even a bitter-sour burned oak reference, from the fire pits?
- C: Juice that sticks to the glass and no doubt my palate memory. I’d probably be buying this just for its novelty Thai green reference alone. Sensationally mental!
Scores 86 points
Derrumbes Pino Bonito Michoacan  Ob. Cupreata & Cenizo agave 46% [WF]90
- N: This holds the essence of the previous Del Maguey, but without the Thai green curry facsimile. This is a more onion-y vegetal Octomore-like, slightly cheesy, squidgy and salty mezcal with a Palo Santo incense smokiness and an implied fish &<< chips note – basically sunflower oil & uncooked batter.
- T: Laphroaig, here we go again again – amazing – though with only a hint of tcp. It’s peppery in a good way and there’s more herbal wood church incense.
- F: More action on the same lines, wrapping up with more implied fish [smoked >mackerel >cod] & < chip vibes with malted onion vinegar and a cardboard-y< maltiness.
- C: Seems I posted this and the last session the wrong way round. ‘I’d love to present a blind mezcal session, on Islay’, I wrote.
Scores 86 points
Derrumbes San Luis Potosi  Ob. Salmiana agave 43.5% WF84
- N: A lighter/less dense & saltier version of the previous Michoacan, with light white hard cheesy<Laphroaig Select notes. Of all the Laphroaig’s to reference!
- T: It’s so Laphroaig-esque its untrue, abound with essence from an oily-slick car mechanics floor. Follows up with an illusion thereof of light bourbon vanilla ageing.
- F: Straight ahead easy finish.
- C: The simplest of the lot. Straight ahead, balanced, decent mezcal with no surprises – which was a surprise.
Scores 82 points
My overall impressions of mezcal’s flavour traits from this session alone:
- Rum/clairins-like spirit with leafy herbal, cheesy>putrid notes – from long fermentations and the help of natural air-borne yeasts I’m guessing.
- Laphroaig>Octomore-esque with a smoky peat< char character, tcp & << carbolic molecules [from the fire pits], attaching themselves to the agave herbal heart.
- Asian peppery spices, savoury-sweet in the main.
With distillate like this, who needs ageing?
The mezcal madness is definitely finally over for now. With this weekend being Rumfest, when I’m back, it’ll be either rum or whisky – double promise.