The Mezcal & Tequila festival at Oyamel Restaurant
I’ve tasted mescal is cocktails and drinks before, I love the smoky-ness of it. Never tasted it on its own though. So the mescal & tequila festival was definitely the place for me. I attended the festival and tasted mescal for 3 days straight and learned something new everyday.
Wahaka Mezcal — I was able to taste 4 expressions of the Wahaka Mezcal poured by Eduardo (@mezcal_neat) from the West Coast if I’m not mistaken. The first 3 expressions were made from different types of agave, will the 4th was a blend of the 1st three. To make Wahaka Mezcal, agave plants are harvested one by one, and the hearts are roasted in pits in the ground then crushed using a horse-powered millstone. The resulting pulp is fermented in oak vats, then distilled, some in clay stills, some in copper. What sets Wahaka Mezcal apart from others is that it is 100% agave and 100% certified organic. My favorite mezcal from the lineup was the Joven Madre-Cuishe, un-aged with notes of citrus, earth and flowers. Eduardo was SO helpful and patient with us as well, he came and sat down, answered question after question while my nerdy self took notes. Thanks Eduardo!!
Del Maguey – The amazing Misty Kalkofen (@hankyp) poured this up for us! I remembered Misty from BarSmarts where she expertly served as assistant and judge. Huge fan as I love seeing women hang right in there with the men. For the Del Maguey mescals (yes, plural) Misty poured them into a ‘copita’ made of terracotta which allows for a better appreciation of the nose or the mezcal.
To make Del Maguey Mezcal, the hearts of maguey are roasted over hot stones covered with maguey fiber and earth in a conical pit in the ground for three to five days. They are then ground to a mash using horse-powered stone mills or hand held mallets, followed by a long period of natural, ambient fermentation in wooden vats (14 to 30 days), and finally distilled twice, very slowly, in wood-fired clay or copper stills. What sets Del Maguey Mezcal apart from others, every product in the collection is made by individual family palenqueros (producers) in old-style villages. I could really taste the difference in each one. Not necessarily which village, but there was a distinct difference in each example. My faves where the Chichicapa and the Crema de Mezcal.
Tequila Ocho & Pierde Almas – I must admit, I hadn’t heard of either of these brands before. I went to this tasting because the homie Nick Crutchfield (@caskproof) is the brand ambassador. If the brands are good enough for him to promote, I clearly need to know more about them. And learn I did! Nick explained the process from start to finish even though he had a huge crowd. So I don’t have as many notes from him BUT he did have Diablos made for us and the smoky flavor of the mezcal was all up and thru that cocktail! What I do know is that Pierde Almas Mezcal stands apart from the rest because they still bake the Agave Hearts for up to ten days in earthen ovens and mill them under a great stone wheel drawn by horses. Their fermentation is slow, careful and chemical-free, and the distillation occurs in a wood-fired, serpentine copper alembic whose design.
So see, it wasn’t just about drinking!! I learned so much from the amazing brand ambassadors that came out…even made some new friends that I look forward to seeing at Tales this month! The most important thing that EVERYONE said though, ‘SIP IT, DON’T SHOOT IT!!’