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Friday
Oct232015

Los Nahuales Especial de K&L

Let me introduce you all to my newest baby: a blend of wild cuishe agave with the robust and giant-sized sierrudothat hopefully will serve as the gateway drug for many budding agave fans towards a new spirits adventure. I am as proud of this new mezcal we put together with Los Danzantes and the Craft Spirits Mezcalero label as I am of anything we’ve ever done at K&L. It’s a shining of example of everything that I want the K&L spirits department to be about: quality, accessibility, and creativity—all in one. While mezcal is a growing category it’s also a diverse and treacherous one. The multitude of dynamic flavors can range from muted and unassuming to bizarre and utterly confusing—and everywhere in between—so when you go out on a limb to create something grand, what you create needs to be both intriguing to the cultivated connoisseur and comprehensible to the excited newcomer. The problem in many cases with expensive mezcal (at least in my opinion) is that consumers are often paying for the rarity of the wild agave species, rather than the quality of the flavor it produces. That means you might pay $100 for a bottle you think should taste considerably better than the $50 one, but end up with something quite bizarre instead.

If mezcal is ever going to grow as a category, then the expensive and higher-end mezcals need to taste that much better. There needs to be an obvious and clear jump in quality from $50 to $100 if consumers are ever going to feel like they got their money's worth. In the case of this new special edition mezcal from Los Danzantes, I think we’ve put together something that fits the bill. We’ve got a recipe of roughly half cultivated agave and half wild agave that should offer veterans of the agave world something exciting and new. Simultaneously, it should wow the pants off of any casual tequila drinker and pretty much any fan of gin as well. There’s a lot of crossover potential here because the palate is full of citrus, pepper, and spice—flavors that could describe a number of different spirits across the board. More importantly, it was the best mezcal I tasted on my last trip to Oaxaca at any price.

What I'm ultimately going to tell people is: if you’ve never bought a bottle of mezcal before and only buy one mezcal ever in your life, one that you hope will open your eyes to the exciting possibilities you've heard mezcal might be capable of offering, this is the one to buy. Why? Because you get the exotic flavors that only wild agave can offer, but at a price that's a bit more manageable. While most pure cuishemezcales clock in somewhere between $90-$110, they don't necessarily offer supreme drinkability at that price because they're often focusing on purity over drinkability. That's where the blending of different agave species comes into play and a true master craftsman can help create something greater than the sum of its parts (much like blending a whisky). We trusted Karina to capture all those high-toned bursts of flavor, but to temper them into something more balanced and ultimately rewarding (and also lower in price!). She knocked it out of the park. I really can’t imagine anyone who likes clear spirits of expressive flavor not enjoying this immensely. I want to share with you the review from my colleague Jeff Garneau as an aside. He’s primarily a Bordeaux guy, but he just went crazy for our new special edition. His staff review is posted under the product on the main site, but I’ll post it here now:

When our Spirits Buyer, David Driscoll, returned from Mexico last May, it was as if he had had a religious conversion, a “Saint Paul on the road to Oaxaca” moment. Mezcal was his new god, and Karina Abad Rojas, the head of production for Los Danzantes, his High Priestess. David was as excited as only David can be, and within a few days of his return he had the staff here in Redwood City in a similar state, thrilled to be able to sell the Los Danzantes and Alipus mezcals, and ready to become evangelists for this remarkable agave spirit. How typical of David not to mention that there was something even better on the way, a mezcal handcrafted by none other than Karina Abad Rojas herself, a remarkable expression of her intense passion for, and deep knowledge of, the agave grown in and around her home state of Oaxaca. The Mezcalero Los Nahuales Special Edition Sierrudo-Cuishe Mezcal, a co-fermented blend of the massive and slow-growing Sierrudo and wild Cuishe agaves is an agave spirit of astonishing subtlety and refinement. I lingered long over complex notes of cedar smoke, fleur de sel, and candied lemon peel. It was nothing short of a revelation, and the most exciting thing to come out of Mexico since Salma Hayek. This is a mezcal that is going to win over not only tequila aficionados, but gin drinkers as well. And if you are already a mezcal fan, well, make a little room on your bar for this little miracle. It would be a sin not to.

So you get it now, right? We like this.

Mezcalero "Los Nahuales" Special Edition Sierrudo/Cuishe Mezcal $79.99- If you've ever been curious about mezcal and you've wanted to branch out from your normal spirits enjoyment, we think we've found the perfect segue into the Oaxacan world of agave. This special edition collaboration mezcal we've helped source from Los Danzantes not only showcases all of the incredible flavor and diversity of tequila's cousin to the south, it also brings together a number of other interesting factors that add to the experience. While much of what's generally available on the market is distilled from cultivated espadin agave, our special edition consists of 58.5% sierrudo agave and 41.5% cuishe, a wild species that must be sourced and foraged by hand. The pinas were co-fermented and distilled by Karina Abad Rojas, not only of the most talented distillers in the business, but also one of the few female distillers we've ever met south of the border. Her fingerprints are all over this complex and calculated spirit. The nose has all the candied citrus and tanginess of a Highland tequila, but below the surface are notes of smoke and roasted agave pulp. The flavors on the palate are bright and high-toned, there's a kiss of sweet fruit, but the spice is never punchy or overly-intense. The floral notes from the cuishe agave flutter delicately against another round of smoke and accents of spice all the way to the finish. For those interested in mezcal's top shelf, look no further. This is the perfect starting point into mezcal's high-end complexity and flavor.

-David Driscoll