Jacob Osborn
10 Best Mezcals to Lift Your Spirits in Smoky Style | Man of Many
The word “mezcal” translates to “oven-cooked agave” and that should give you a good idea of how the spirit gets made. First, the agave plants must reach their proper age, after which they’re cut down and stripped of their hearts, also known as the piñas. The piñas are cleaned and then cooked in earthen pits, where they pick up a smoky flavour. Next, they’re crushed into a pulp, combined with water, fermented, and distilled. Factors like region, type of agave plant, aging methods, and cooking techniques will influence the resulting flavour profile.
How is Mezcal Made?
Mezcal not only pre-dates tequila, but all tequila is actually a form of mezcal (and not vice-versa). Like mezcal, tequila is made from the agave plant and double-distilled. Both liquors can also be aged after distillation for various periods of time, or not aged at all. Similarities notwithstanding, mezcal and tequila walk their own separate paths, something that becomes self-evident as soon as you compare the taste.
What’s the Difference between Tequila and Mezcal?
Being that great mezcals are produced in such limited batches, it’s hard to keep track of which ones actually live up to the hype. Hence, take the following list with a grain of tequila salt (sorry, had to do it), as it’s bound to leave off the mindblowing mezcal you tried in some Oaxacan alleyway bar.
10 Best Mezcals
The massive arroqueño agave plant can take up to 30 years to ripen, and one sip of this high-end mezcal will tell you it was worth the wait. Crafted in very small batches for obvious reasons, it packs a prix-fixe menu’s worth of flavours into every pour. This is easily one of the best mezcals you can try, presuming you’re willing to pony up for the privilege. Prepare your taste buds for a wild ride.
El Jolgorio Arroqueño Mezcal
More than any other mezcal brand, Del Maguey has turned the formerly marginalised spirit into a worldwide phenomenon. Each one of the label’s single village statements tells a story and Chichicapa is no exception. Hand-crafted entirely from agave espadín by Maestro Mezcalero Faustino Garcia Vasquez, it blends a range of flavours—including burnt sugar, pineapple, pepper, and smoky bacon—to perfection. For the fearless drinker, this unaged mezcal is a vessel of pure discovery.
Chichicapa Del Maguey Single Village Mezcal
While we’re riding the Del Maguey train, let’s make a stop at one of the label’s most premium offerings. As part of the Vino De Mezcal Series, Del Maguey Arroqueño Mezcal is produced in limited supply, cultivated from special terroirs, and hand-selected by brand founder Ron Cooper. Within its rich and creamy body, you’ll find a dizzying array of luscious flavours. If you can find it, try it.
Del Maguey Arroqueño Mezcal
Those who think the best mezcals are innately smoky will be pleasantly surprised by Mezcales de Leyenda San Luis Potosi. Touting a complex mineral essence, it balances notes of salt, citrus, sugar, and spice on the palate. In other words, you’ll find pretty much everything but smoke from this wonderfully smooth sipper, which is made using agave salmiana from San Luis Potosí.
Mezcales de Leyenda San Luis Potosi
If you’re looking for the best mezcals over on Dan Murphy’s, you might notice that there’s precious little to be found for under $100. So goes the cost of importing this already expensive spirit from overseas. In any case, we won’t say that Ilegal Mezcal Reposado is affordable at AU$99.95 a bottle, but relatively speaking, it delivers plenty of bang for its buck and goes down like sweet liquid smoke. If you want to save even more money, Ilegal Mezcal Joven is similarly no slouch.
Ilegal Mezcal Reposado
Pechuga mezcals are their own special breed, in that they’re usually crafted to celebrate a local harvest or religious holiday. It’s in this tradition that Siete Misterios Pechuga is produced. After being double-distilled, it’s infused with fruit from the harvest and then distilled a third time. What makes the third distillation so unique is that a turkey breast is suspended in the neck of the still. Is that why this mega-rare mezcal is so complex and rewarding? That’s a question only the Maestro Mezcalero can answer.
Siete Misterios Pechuga
Mezcal Vago is among the best mezcal brands in the game, and Tobalá might very well be the label’s masterpiece. It’s crafted from the mighty tobalá, a famously difficult agave plant that’s grown at high altitudes. The resulting spirit provides a veritable journey for the senses, juxtaposing various aromas, textures, and tastes. No two sips are exactly the same.
Mezcal Vago Tobalá
Despite its bold nose, Mezcal Marca Negra Dobadán comes in soft and sweet on the palate. As notes of molasses, brown sugar, grapefruit peel, herbs, and a touch of smoke swirl in your mouth, you might very well remember what it means to live. This is what the best mezcals are all about in that every sip is an adventure.
Mezcal Marca Negra Dobadán
Distilled in the Oaxacan village of San Andrés, this young mezcal delivers palatable waves of smooth smoke. That makes it a classic example of everything you’ve come to expect from the best mezcals, and a terrific sipper in its own right. Go just beyond the smoky surface and you’ll discover notes of sweet tobacco and even some cherry. If you want to get your sip on in quintessential style, look no further.
Mezcal Alipus San Andres
Is Peloton De La Muerte Mezcal Joven Artesanal the best mezcal you’ll ever taste? Probably not, but it will make for one of the best mezcal margaritas. Should you want to put a new twist on the world’s foremost cocktail, here’s one surefire way to do it. Plus, this mezcal still makes for a solid sipper, which is why we once dedicated an Jimmy Brings is Offering Free Booze Delivery All Long Weekend to it.
Peloton De La Muerte Mezcal Joven Artesanal
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