Mezcal has enjoyed burgeoning popularity over the past few years. From funky pechugas to rich and fruity single estate varieties, this diverse Mexican spirit is becoming more widely available in new U.S. markets. Like whiskey, mezcal is both fantastic on its own and in a variety of cocktails. Want to know which mezcal will suit your palate? We’ve got a few options that make a fantastic first impression along with ideas on how to drink them. Each one would make a great addition to your home bar arsenal.
If you know you enjoy most of the blanco tequilas you’ve encountered, chances are you’ll also enjoy this unaged mezcal. Made from espadín agave in Mexico’s Tlacolula Valley, Ilegal has a botanically inclined aroma and a bright, crisp flavor. Be aware: this mezcal also packs just the right amount of heat. Use it in a Margarita to see how its flavors are accentuated by an element of acid.
Enjoying Sombra Mezcal is a two-fold experience. For one, the spirit is delicious, with warming and slightly vegetal flavors. You’ll also likely be pleased by the brand’s commitment to sustainability. For example, Sombra uses the leftover materials from the distillation of its organic agave to help rebuild the local Oaxacan community. The brand employs a number of other initiatives from water conservation to clean energy. You can find out more details here. Try Sombra neat before mixing it in a Paloma where it will shine alongside bitter flavors and effervescent texture.
This joven mezcal made in the Sierra Madres mountains is a fantastic introduction to the smoky flavor many mezcals possess. It’s made with espadín agave and distilled by a fifth generation mezcalero who allows the agave to roast for up to a week and then to naturally ferment. This process results in a rich distillate with plenty of that smoky aroma and flavor many expect out of a mezcal. Additionally, the mezcal brings along with it a nice balance of herbal, briny goodness. Put its flavor on full display in an Old Fashioned.
If you’re already confident in your love of mezcal and want to branch out of the more beginner-focused joven varieties, try this single village mezcal from Del Maguey. Chichicapa explodes in a cacophony of flavors on the palate, from fruity to salty to roasty. Just be aware that as this is a single village mezcal there can be some slight batch variation. Drink this mezcal over a bit of ice with orange rind.
While this mezcal might have a heftier price tag than some of its counterparts, it’s well worth the splurge. Mezcalero Aquilino García López begins with his espadín mezcal distillate. He then showcases his genius by infusing it with roasted corn for this, aptly named Elote (corn in Spanish) variant. It may sound strange, but the flavors of the toasty vegetable impart a slight sweetness to the spirit that’s a delight for connoisseurs and beginner mezcal lovers alike. Do yourself a favor and drink it neat with no frills.
Now’s the time to try mezcal! Grab one of the recommendations above or search Distiller to find your perfect match.