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  1. Max at |

    Can we be honest at least though and admit that the mezcals you disparage as “purist” simply taste better and more interesting than watered down “pragmatic” bottles? And that cocktails are fine, but a waste of good quality mezcal (maybe a good use for the pragmatic stuff). Also I’d argue that the good ABV range is from 45-80% to account for the great puntas that can be found.

    1. mike caton at |

      look at the list of the Pragamatists names in the last paragraph of you entertaining post: Andrew Says of Liberty Bar in Seattle, Casey Robison of Barrio Mexican Kitchen and Bar also in Seattle, brand owners like Stephen Myers of Ilegal, Arik Torren of Fidencio, John Henry of El Buho, and on and on.

      Now do you understand why Mexicans involved in the Mezcal business are pushing back hard? they dont want their product going down the same shithole that tequila went down.

      (also explains their completely logical distaste of aged mezcal. its only something you need to do to increase market share and completely ruins any decent mezcal, by definition. it tastes like some american oak barrel. if you want that stick to whiskey.)

  2. Luis Alvarez at |


    I am really enjoying your website thank you for all your hard work

    I will be visiting Cancun, Merida, & Tulum. I want to buy some traditional and artesian mezcal. I would like to buy Mezcal that isnt available in the USA or cheaper in Mexico. Which brand would you recommend ? So I like & own bottles of bruxo #1 &3, leyda mezcal Durango. I would like a tobala.

  3. Enrique Mendez at |

    Great article! Very informative as well. Going to back to your point on traditional mezcal. I don’t have anything against aged mezcal, I actually just started liking them do to the fact that I enjoy whiskeys. But I wouldn’t call an aged mezcal traditional for the fact the traditional is an expression used for something with its original heritage/ background. Traditional mezcal, for me at at least, is the way it was originally enjoyed by the first mezcaleros. In all my studying of mezcal I have done I have not scene anything about the ancestors aging mezcal. For the most part, it was enjoyed in its purist way for the fact that you are able to taste the agave its self. You don’t have other flavors masquerading the actual spirit or enhancing it in anyway. When I sip mezcal, yes sip because sipping it is the correct way of enjoying and taste the spirit, I want to be able to taste the minerals, sweet agave, the roastiness, the life those agaves lived. Keep in mind most of these agaves have lived anywhere between 8-20 years, depending of the agave being used and the environment it grew in. This is how mezcal was meant to be enjoyed by our ancestors. Aging however does help bring in a new group of people into the mezcal world. For those who can’t find the pleasure of enjoying a nice mezcal at 48% ABV, a aged mezcal would be better for them. For those who are just starting to get a feel for mezcal and are not huge fans of the smokiness the spirit presents this too would be a great intro into this amazing world. I’ve been bartending for some years now and that has been the best way to introduce people to this amazing spirit. Because its like I tell many people that I introduce to mezcal. Mezcal is like the wine of agave spirits. It rages from so many different states and expressions of agave plants that even if its the same agave plant it will still depend what region it came from as well as how the maestro created it and the life if had. Again, nothing against aged mezcal but to be called traditional it should refer to its original origins. Its like calling Taco Bell, or Del Taco traditional Mexican food just cause its similar to it. Its similar but nowhere in Mexico do they have food like that exactly. Same situation, aged mezcal is not traditional because its not the way it was meant to be served but an expression created to attract a new group of people to expand the mezcal passion.

  4. Dan at |

    Just bought a bottle of Sombra Mezcal uno Joven and was wondering if you’ve tried it?

    New to Mezcal and hard to find more than a few brands in the liquor stores in Vancouver BC Canada.

  5. Wilma at |

    I was given a very old bottle of mezcal, and am trying to determine if it is okay to drink or if it is a collectible .
    I haven’t been able to find any reference of it on the internet.
    Can I send you a photo of it, perhaps you can assist me.

    Thank you

  6. Art Mayers at |

    Unfortunately, traditional ways do not necessarily produce a safe product. No matter what you do in cooking and fermenting the pinas unless the distillation is done with proper controls methanol (which tastes smoother than ethanol) can be part of the final product. Methanol is poisonous. Under pressure to produce more product, these “masters” may be tempted to blend some of the first 10 percent off the still to meet demand. Mezcal is moonshine south of the .border. Paying $75 a bottle for something that could blind you is insane.

  7. Oliver at |

    Just for the record, throughout its history, there has been some producers that do rest or age mescal, however, they used (and still use in some communities) glass recipients and not wooden barrels. This allows the mescal to keep its original notes.

    And in my opinion, “traditional” not only refers as how the mescal is produced but how communities and the maestros consume it (which is above 45%).
    All those brands/kinds of mescal that you mentioned are selling below 45% due to commercial reasons as someone stated above. And call me a purist, but if you ask me, the best of those mentioned is Pierde Almas (if we are to compare the same kind of agave – angustifolia- ) the rest are trying to get to an entry level niche by adjusting the taste and even not cooking the pinas for as long as they should to eliminate some of the smoky flavour. Nahuales (now Danzantes) and Mezcales de Leyenda come as second bests (actually, for someone that likes his mescal joven, I must admit that I really enjoyed the Danzantes repo and would recommend it to anyone getting into the mescal world).

    And those other brands “like Mezcal Union, El Koch, Siete Misterios, Real Minero…” are actually really good mescals with a superb quality.

    I agree there should be different kinds for all palates, however, these palates should be educated first about mescal if we do not want them to put such spirit in the same category as cheap tequila – call me a purist again, but seen many people shooting mescal!! –

    Also, if you check the NOM 70, you will realise (Im sure you already know it!) that there are now 3 categories:
    Mezcal artesanal
    Mezcal ancestral

    yes no mezcal tradicional at all 🙁

    Perhaps you can start a new discussion about what makes one mescal ancestral -or what on earth is a komil- ? 🙂


  8. David Barksdale at |

    Great article, well written and informative. Stumbled upon it via a Google search for a good Mezcal to pick up at the local Specs. Would guess that I fall into the pragmatist spectrum. Just want a fine sippin’ bottle of Mezcal. Still looking and will follow this string for suggestions. Many thanks. Vaya con Dios.

    1. Frank Torres at |

      David, if you don’t mind me asking, what part of Texas are you from? While Specs may have the most stores and cheapest prices they don’t have a very big mezcal selection in many stores. You may get lucky and find some Del Maguey Vida or the Illegal line but they will mostly have rot gut Zignum top shelf and other cheap brands. I am in the San Antonio area let me know if you’re anywhere around here and I will direct you to a store with a real selection of Mezcals.

      1. David Barksdale at |

        Frank, Many thanks for the note. We’rd up on the Llano Estacado in Lubbock and you are rightv as rain, Specs was a total zero with but three bottles of $20+ Mezcal. Don’t know much but know to avoid such as that. Until August, owned Manna Bread and Wine, a restaurant & whisky bar up here for years. We ordered some “artisional” Mezcals to go with the Top shelf whiskies. One was Zignum, delightfully smooth but as I later discovered, not exactly artisinal. Thought that we might have ordered it from Specs or Docs, a local wholesaler owned by Specs. Thus, I’m back to looking up here. Will check with old WS connects to get some options sent up from Dallas.

  9. dom perri mezcal at |

    “cordon” is also a test that bootleggers use. a test for you if you like, find 3 bottles of varying % of alcohol, as for apart from each other as possible. 151,60 and 42.
    shake each one and nice how long the bubbles stick around. the lower the percentage to longer the bubbles last also noting the quantity. the higher % the opposite.
    i would also like to add that it is possible to distill at a low percentage, but that process would be very slow, and the still would need to be controlled like a swiss watch. alcohol evaporating in the 170’s comes out of the still at a pretty high percentage but that percentage dwindles as the run finishes out. it wouldn’t be at the end that the percentage would drop. from the photos of mezcal distillers that i’ve seen, a lot of them are running pot still, with roaring fires. this could add h20 to the process, but down the road at bottling time, when the labels are getting put on, those distillers decided at a specific taxable %. if their runs were higher in percentage then they would be screwed, or they could add distilled agua to the mezcal to meet their percentage. also, if they have a super efficient reflux still, and do multiple runs, adding water before bottling just stretches out their money.

    everyone does it, whiskey, rum, vodka, neutral

    Im in mexico now and just tried some mezcal from “pescadero de suenos”
    like your page

  10. kalena at |

    i am enjoying your website quite a bit.
    have you tasted through benesin mezcal?

    Master Distiller Efrain Nolasco has been cultivating agave and producing mezcal for over forty years, having learned from his fatter before him.
    After moving from Oaxaca to California in 1987 and working his way up in the Napa Valley Agriculture, Nolasco began bringing mezcal to the united states to help support his native San Juan del Rio, Oaxaca.

    in 2000, he created the San Juan del Rio Agave Growers Cooperative, by 2004 his mezcal brands, Benesin and San Juan del Rio, had reached California and in 2006, they became certified organic. Truly authentic, truly traditional.

    10% of the proceeds go to benefit education for children in San Juan Del Rio.


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