Tequila and What The Heck Is Mezcal!!!
Tequila! Before moving to Mexico, tequila was merely a distraction. Distraction? Yeah, something that would take me off the normal path and it didn’t take much.
Slamming down a shot of tequila with a slice of lime and a web of salt seemed to be cool too. Jose Cuervo! I think that was the standard among ‘shots’ and being cool.
So, I really didn’t take that much of a liking to tequila……I like to taste what I’m drinking. One of the purposes of drinking is to enjoy the flavor of the beverage…..well it’s a big reason for me. Yeah, I’ll take a slice of lime in a few of the beers I drink, but I’ll also drink those same beers without lime. Exploring the pallet as I’ve aged.
I’ve mentioned Mezcal and I’ll get to that in a bit……I’m still with the tequila.
Living in Mexico for the past year I’ve learned to appreciate the flavor of tequila, I even surprise the bartenders that I shun lime and salt to engage the delightful juice of the Agave plant.
There’s 2 categories of tequila; 100% Blue Agave and Tequila Mixto (mixed). Mixto is 51% agave and sugars while 100% Blue Agave is…….well 100% agave.
But there’s more to this….remember, I get around. I get involved with the locals and Mexican’s from various parts of the country……I know jack shit!
Tequila silver comes in white, silver and platinum. These are unaged and the intensity of the agave bares it’s influence.
Tequila gold is usually Mixto used in mixed drinks.
There’s more to this but that would bog us down and that wouldn’t be much fun. But, I must introduce you to the quality aspect.
The quality of tequilas
Tequila Resposado: A Reposado Tequila is the first stage of “rested and aged”. The Tequila is aged in wood barrels or storage tanks between 2 months and about 11 months sort of like rum and whiskey but for a shorter period of time. It’s “rested”!
Tequila Añejo: After aging for at least one year, Tequila can then be classified as an “Añejo”. The distillers are required to age Añejo Tequila in barrels that do not exceed 600 liters. This aging process darkens the Tequila to an Amber color, and the flavor can become smoother, richer, and more complex.
Tequila Extra Añejo (ultra aged): A new classification added in 2006, labeling any Tequila aged more than 3 years, an “Extra Añejo”. The rules of aging apply as above. With this extended amount of aging, the Tequila becomes much darker in color and is so rich it actually loses that tequila trait that of just shooting it. It becomes difficult to distinguish it from other quality aged spirits. After the aging process, the alcohol content must be diluted by adding distilled water. These Extra Añejo’s are extremely smooth and complex. Pricey too……I paid $18 for one shot, I sipped it very gently and really didn’t recognize it as tequila!
Okay! That’s enough of the technical shit.
I usually sip Don Julio…….recently was introduced to the silver extra Añejo and it was a WOW experience. Deedee had a touch of lime juice in hers. I’m not sure how it stays clear with aging and really don’t need to know. I had 3 shots or was it 4?
Most people are familiar with either Jose’ Cuervo or Patron. Different scales of tequila and there’s lots of good stuff in between that on one hand won’t sock you away for the night (Jose’ Cuervo) or break the bank (Patron and above). That’s where my Don Julio lies.
There’s also; 1800, Hornitos, Herradura, Corazan, Sauza, Cabo Wabo, Voodoo Tiki, and Rey Sol to mention a few. But, I must say in amends to Jose’ Cuervo that there is some fine finishes to be had that are aged and ultra aged.
But what about this Mezcal?
I’m glad you asked.
Mezcal like Tequila is made from the ‘agave’ plant just not exclusively from the ‘blue agave’ and until recently was mostly made in Oaxaca (which has some GREAT cheese too!!). It is made from the heart of the ‘agave’ plant called the pina (there’s a wiggly accent line over the n in Espanol). The pina is cooked and it’s juice is firmented, known as ‘the elixir of gods’. There’s a story behind that having to do with lightening striking the agave plant thereby cooking it and opening it releasing its nectar. Yeah.
This is a TOUGH drink. Just like my tequilas I sip it, I just don’t partake very often. It has a very harsh and pronounced flavor! Hurts! Some of the brands even have a worm in it! That’s where it belongs, not in the tequila…..tequila is wormless.
My first experience with Mezcal is memorable. On a beach at a nearby resort with ‘roasted cricket’. Yep, ‘roasted cricket’. I’ll try stuff, I’m telling you!
Mezcal is not produced in large quantities like the tequilas are, the mezcal is handcrafted by small-scale producer.
Mezcal is smokey in flavor and this is how that’s produced. The leaves and roots are cut away leaving only the heart which is cooked for 3 days in earthen mounds over pits of rocks. This gives it its distinctive smokey flavor.
I’ve not engage in too much Mezcal libation…….I’ve enjoyed my tequila a bit more. But, when I do I’m assured a unique burning sensation on its way down to its appointed destination.
There’s a lot of variations in the blends of Mezcal as it’s handcrafted and uses other fruits and herbs.
It’s an interesting brew. Mostly sipped but as of recently in the U.S. it is being used more in cocktail varieties.
This has been an interesting experience for me…..the problem with experimenting with the Mezcal down here is that it is bottle only in 700 and 900 ml. No pints and such. So, it can get expensive to search thru to find your taste of gold at the end of the rainbow.
By the way……I didn’t eat the worm (but the roasted cricket…..yeah!) GADS!!!
Peace, love, and beaches,