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The Mezcalistas Mezcal Tasting Journal

How to manage mezcal tasting notes

When we started selling the Mezcal Tasting Journals we weren’t exactly sure how they’d be received. We certainly love them and have been using them for all our tastings ever since Tess Rose Lampert showed them to us. She’d developed the format along with Portland’s 33 Books Co. which has a number of other tasting journals.

One of the things that I liked immediately about the format is that it’s so concise and focuses you on key details while encouraging you to think a bit more widely about your mezcal experience. I have a tendency to be rather verbose with my notes which, handwriting notwithstanding, is generally a strength. But my one major weakness is that I forget to record key details about a bottle – this tasting journal really helps me make sure that I get the basics down without being overly reductive.

But the flavor wheel is what really helped me. Even though the concept has been around forever, having it in print, in front of my face while I’m tasting, provides inspiration without putting words in my mouth. Just a small example: I don’t always think about balance when tasting a mezcal because many of them are so well balanced, it’s only when a bottle is out of whack that I make note of it. But that little reminder that balance is an axis of the flavor wheel reminds me to think about that aspect. With that sort of inspiration I can then dive into all the strange associations that come out of a tasting.

As I said, we didn’t know how they would be received so we’ve been incredibly gratified by all the conversations we’ve had with people about how helpful the journals are. While some people have felt that these pages are too complex, the important thing is to make it as simple or complex as you want because this whole tasting thing is all about what you like and taste. We all have different preferences, associations, and physically different mouths so bring your individual sensations to life and don’t worry about what everyone else is writing. After all, this isn’t a test!

I bring this up because last night I had a great email exchange with Michelle Delgado who had recently ordered some journals and she sent me these great photos with, in high contrast to my own notes, legible handwriting! Now this is a demonstration of just how great these things are.

So, get yours today to join the club of organized mezcal tasters!

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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