K&L's First Ever Mezcal Project Hits this Week
You might remember a series of blog posts I wrote this past May while traveling through Oaxaca, part of which focused on the Los Danzantes distillery and its principal distiller Karina Abad Rojas. I don't think I've ever gushed as much about any singular professional in this business as I did while hanging out with Karina. I've never been as impressed with any distiller anywhere as I was during my time with her. She's rather reserved and soft-spoken by nature, yet really she's a stoic and somewhat intimidating figure. I spent three days driving around Oaxaca with her, listening to her talk about the various species of agave—their flavors, their soils, their nuances—while also spending time with her around the distillery. Everyone defers to her. She'll taste quietly in the corner while the men discuss business, but really she's running the show. From just a few conversations with her over a period of a few days, it was clear that Karina knows more about agave botany and appropriate distillation chemistry than just about anyone. What was funny to me, however, was that while all the Mezcalero label releases (the partnership between Danzantes and Craft Spirits in California) have featured the work of numerous male distillers around Oaxaca, they had yet to adorn a bottle with Karina's handywork—even though it's clear to just about everyone (at least the people I spoke with) what a master she is.
It wasn't all that surprising though. The agave spirits world is a very macho place, especially in a genre still dominated by heroic and masculine figures like Don Julio Gonzalez. When I sat with Karina in her office, however, I made it clear what I wanted were we to do something special together. "Quiero algo de ti, algo que has hecho," I told her. While Karina's work is always on display in the Los Danzantes mezcales (known now as Los Nahuales in the states), I wanted to showcase some of her more creative talents—her ability to blend the fierce flavors of wild agave—rather than just the espadin-distilled standards. I knew that Karina loved working with cuishe, the long and narrow wild agave species known for its bright and floral character when distilled. I suggested something fun that showcased her cuishe capabilities.
Five months later, the result of that sitdown meeting is in the bottle and on its way to K&L. A mezcal exclusive consisting of 58.5% sierrudo agave and 41.5% cuishe. The aromas of this blend are simply divine. There's a mild and sweet-fruited character on the nose, lightly-accented with white pepper and jalepeño. The palate is just as gentle with clean lines and a floral flutter, before the sweet and spicy symphony on the finish. Dare I say this mezcal has a feminine touch? Literally?