The results of the Ultimate Spirits Challenge 2012 are out, and I must say they are a bit puzzling to me. I am, of course focusing on the mezcal results, but click the full results if you care to review them. http://www.ultimate-beverage.com/the-results/2012-spirits-results/#category_6
To me, the surprising result is that the top rated mezcal is Del Maguey Vida. Now this is no doubt a fine mezcal but I am guessing that even Ron Cooper at Del Maguey would not see this as Del Maguey’s top rated mezcal. Though I can happily sip it, there are many more that I think are better sipping mezcals, and I view this as great product with which to make mezcal cocktails. Even though I don’t get it, congrats to Vida.
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Calling myself Mezcal PhD is really more of an aspirational title than one based in fact. On the other hand, who is to really say? Can you really get a PhD in spirits, and more specifically Mezcal? And who would award such a degree? Would you really want to have THAT alma mater on your resume? (more…)
As you probably know, mezcal has a cult-like following. Perhaps these sayings have emerged as a result of that, or maybe people are trying to further the education of mezcal, or maybe they are trying to capture the cultural and spiritual heritage of this spirit. Or maybe they were just bombed when they came up with them! Whatever it is, I don’t know of any other spirit that actually has a growing body of descriptive phrases surrounding it. Or maybe I have not been paying attention! That said, here are a few of my favorites:
- Mezcal is an acquired taste, but a taste worth acquiring.
- If you drink too much mezcal, they don’t say you are drunk; they say you are “closer to god”.
- For everything bad, mezcal. For everything good, mezcal.
- Based on the long growth period (8-12 years) for an agave plant to reach the age of harvest, they say that mezcal represents “drops of time”.
- You don’t find mezcal, mezcal finds you!
- Tequila is to wake the living. Mezcal is to wake the dead.
In Mexico, mezcal is uniquely tied to the history and the culture. It is spiritual, romantic, mystical, traditional, and revered. It is served at births, weddings, funerals and everything in between.
In the U.S., mezcal is largely misunderstood, though we are trying to change that. In my youth (the bar-hopping good times of the late ’80’s) there was a bar in NYC called Lucy’s on the Upper West Side. It was a packed, raucous, meat-market (so I was told) that was always a scene. If you wanted a Lucy’s T-shirt though, you had to down a small bottle of mezcal that had a worm in it (I will get to the worm later). And this mezcal was DISGUSTING – the retching, burning, gag-inducing crap that you would only do when already well on your way, and your buddies were egging you on.
Unfortunately, most people, if they have any impression of mezcal at all, think of that nasty stuff with the worm. While you can still find this junk, today’s mezcals are nothing like that, and that’s what this blog is all about. As Eric Asimov, Food & Wine writer for the NY Times, said in 2010:
“Mezcal is one of the world’s great spirits: complex, gorgeous and endlessly intriguing, distinguished like great wines by a strong sense of place.”
Now that’s what I’m talkin’ about! Let’s review the basics of Mezcal (just the facts ma’am): (more…)