I love mezcal. I'm learning more about it every week and I'm finding myself in need of a Oaxacan pilgrimage. While I'm hoping to take some time off in October to wander through the agave fields, the people at Craft Distillers have been keeping me busy here in the store. In addition to their outstanding Mezcalero label, they've now begun importing Mezcal Alipus - a very special collection of distillates that showcase various styles of mezcal making. At about $40 a bottle, these are as good as I've seen for the price. There are plenty of more-expensive mezcals that don't come close to the Alipus three. Check out the notes and see what you think:
Mezcal Alipus San Andres Mezcal $42.99 - New mezcals de un pueblo from Craft Distillers! The Alipus line is fabulous selection of quality selections at reasonable prices. The San Andres mezcal was fermented in cypress vats and distilled by Don Valente Angel from agave Espadin grown at 5,000 feet. The flavors are tangy on the entry, but then turn bright with sweet agave notes, before transforming into earth with hints of baking spice. Very complex and extremely tasty. Instantly one of my favorites.
Mezcal Alipus San Baltazar Guelavila Mezcal $42.99 - The San Baltazar Guelavila mezcal is fermented in pine vats and distilled by Don Cosme Hernandez from agave Espadin grown at 5700 feet in white, rocky soil. More delicate in mouthfeel than the other two, the palate is still quite expressive with sweet fruits and white pepper notes intertwining with the smoky tang. Earthy notes on the finish. Delicious.
Mezcal Alipus San Juan Del Rio Mezcal $42.99 - The San Juan del Rio mezcal is fermented in oak vats and distilled by Don Joel Cruz from non-irrigated agave Espadin grown in sunny mountain top plantings in ferriferous soil at 4600 feet. Perhaps a bit more user friendly than the other selections, the flavors are concentrated but mild and more in check with the alcohol. Brilliant depth, loads of pepper and spice, but a subtle hint of sweet baking spices keeps it together. Classic mezcal for people looking for a starting point.
These spirits are so alive with flavor and character that it's hard to believe they're unaged. That's not to say that they taste barrel-matured, just that in the whisky world we're accustomed to complexity as something that comes with time. Here it's all about distillation methods and quality agave. Mezcal is definitely the new frontier for spirits fans. I'm gravitating that way, at least. On a hot California afternoon like today, I'm definitely game for a few shots after my Mexican dinner.