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El Rey Zapoteco Tepeztate Tasting Notes



Rich and withholding, hint of roasted agave sugar and mint that drifts away, tantalizing.


This lives up to the vaunted tepeztate reputation for complexity and broad shoulders. There is an unexpected and contrasting bouquet of mint, cinnamon oregano, and avocado leaf layered on top of a rich roasted sugar base.

Method / Background Notes

One of the older family owned brands in the business dating back to 1960, a completely different era in the mezcal world, Rey Zapoteco seems to have threaded the needle and come out the other side as an artisanal brand which cultivates its own agave and has a stand out product to show for it. Every expression in this line is marked by a very light hand: The mezcals have low viscosity and are very expressive telling you a continuous story of the maestro’s distilling philosophy.

The production notes for this expression put the tepeztate at 25 years old at harvest which isn’t out of the ordinary but do put it in a separate category of rarity. Age alone doesn’t mean much, we venerate our elders reflexively because they deserve it but it’s really easy to not do much with an agave. The Hernandez family manages to express the identity of tepeztate in this bottle with all the amazing potential of 25 turns around the sun with all the weather beating down, minerals sucked from the ground, and generations of local kids running by. Imagine that these agave started their lives when the Internet as we know it was beginning.

The horno at the El Rey Zapoteco palenque. Photo by Marlene Lange.

Max co-founded Mezcalistas with Susan way back in 2012. Before that he was a journalist at Salon.com and The San Francisco Chronicle.

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