The latest in Craft Distillers’ Mezcalero line which delivers extremely small production batches from a variety of locations around Oaxaca.
– Location: San Baltazar Guélavila
– Agave: Cultivated espadín and agave de lumbre
– Maestro Mescalero: Cirilo Hernández
– Quantity: 184 cases / 1104 bottles
– Distillation Date: March 2014
– Bottled: June 2015.
– ABV: 48%
– NOM: O14X
These are the sort of one off distillations that used to define mezcal so this series is something of a relic of another era and testament to all the riches that remain. As I’ve said before, the mere existence of Mezcalero is fantastic, the fact that they continue to produce such high quality mezcals so consistently is even better.
The latest is something of a departure. Those accustomed to overwhelming mezcals take note, this bottle may not be for you but you’d be well advised to taste it because its defined by a light balance, it’s almost shy as mezcals go. Put another way, this is the sort of bottle I’d pour for a tequila lover if I wanted to introduce them to the wonders of mezcals without putting them into shock because the Mezcalero #17 has the distinctive light caramelization that defines many great tequilas. That’s not to say that anyone would mistake it for a tequila, there is a dash of smoke and a distinctive bite.
This is mezcal old and new. The cultivated agave speaks to sustainability, the little known agave de lumbre speaks to all of the mystery in the mezcal world. According to Craft Distillers’ Ansley Coale it’s a “a local agave of which I know absolutely nothing.” It could just as easily be a hybridization of something well known or a radical sport.
I don’t get much of a nose from this bottle, a whiff of acetal alcohol tells me that it’s definitely a spirit. It really comes alive on the palate but in the most well mannered sense because the animating idea of the Mescalero #17 is balance. A first sip gives you a delightful charge of sweet agave. After further tastes I find it round and very mellow. That’s when that tequila caramelization kicks into gear. There’s a very balanced viscosity and it finishes with a hint of menthol. The 48% ABV means that you definitely taste the mezcal and feel the alcohol but it’s not front of mind.
The usual caveat applies here, once these bottles are gone, they truly are gone. Make your purchase decision accordingly.
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