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Monday, May 15, 2017

Mezcal Viejo Coyote Tepestate, An In-depth Review by Shay Addams

Made from an agave that grows wild in the mountains of Oaxaca for up to 25 years, Viejo Coyote Tepestate is still an average mezcal in flavor and body.

The bottler does not state if this mezcal is made in the traditional, artisanal way, or is industrially produced. Lack of a handwritten label noting the batch and bottle number and signature of the mezcalero would indicate that it is not artisanal, but “cooked” with machines rather than in a pit, and produced in huge vats.

It tastes like Peppermint Patty -- the candy, not the Peanuts cartoon character --  and appears to be a joven. No proof was listed on the label; it felt like under 75 proof, with no bite. It's more bland than smooth., and I did not get a lift from this mezcal as I do from the better brands.

Coyote does not appear to be exported, though several other bottlers have brands that include the name coyote. Mexican bars sell a shot for 65 pesos, about $3, which is expensive for such a watered down liquor. For another dollar, you can get an Amores and truly enjoy the experience. Even though the taste is more agreeable than cheaper mezcals like 400 Conejos and Gusano Rojo, I would prefer either of them over this pale imitation of Mexico’s finest liquor.

This outfit also makes a Tobala mezcal that is tastier and bolder, and something called Siete Misterios (Seven Mysteries), which I have not yet tasted.

Price: Not exported
Proof: Not listed on bottle
Rating: 1

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Gusano Rojo. An In-depth Review by Shay Addams

One of the two grandfathers of mezcal, Gusano Rojo was created by Jacobo Lozano Páez in 1950, five years after Mezcal Monte Alban pioneered the mezcal industry. Gusano Rojo (“red worm”) was the first mezcal with a worm at the bottom of each bottle. This was not based on Mexican tradition, but was simply a marketing technique that paid off very well – it remains the most popular mezcal in Mexico, and is also big in the United States due to its low price.

Made from espadin agave in Oaxaca, Gusano Rojo remains a family-owned mezcal made in the traditional artisanal way. I have read comments that it is made industrially in huge vats, but that’s not the story on the company’s Website. From the taste, this issue remains cloudy in my mind.

The Taste of Gusano Rojo 

Sporting the robust flavor of day-old licorice and charcoal, Gusano Rojo warms you up physically after two shots. Another shot, and it lifts your spirits like an Apache helicopter with Hellfire missiles locked and loaded.

If James Bond said “Mezcal -- oily, not smooth.” to the bartender in a Mexican mezcaleria, he probably would be served a shot of Gusano Rojo. It hits the back of the throat, not the roof of your mouth the way a refined mezcal does. Still, it’s not unpleasant, price considered. Best served with worm salt and a slice of orange, this hooch you want to knock back like tequila, not sip like the good stuff.

The grade of mezcal you would expect to find in a Tarantino bar scene, Gusano Rojo is a cut above other joven mezcals in the under $50 range. But it is the only mezcal so far that led to a headache even before the end of the night, so proceed with caution.

Price: $15-28
Proof: 76

Friday, May 12, 2017

Las Amores Cupreata Mezcal, An In-dpeth Review by Shay Addams

Made from the rare cupreata agave that grows only on the remotes mountain slopes of the Rio Balsas basin in Michoacán and Guerrero, Amores Cupreata is a joven mezcal produced in Mazatlan, Mexico.

The label says this clear joven mezcal tastes like “slow dancing.” I have never tasted slow dancing, but would describe Amores Cupreata as smokier than their reposada and richer in taste. It tastes woody (but not Harrelson), bringing to mind a hike through the forest. It is also reminiscent of fresh pine needles from the floor of a Mexican nativity scene, and perhaps clove.

There is a light aftertaste and no bite. It hits the cheeks and lightly touches the roof of the mouth, and delivers a distinct buzz to the forehead.

The company makes far less of this brand than their reposada, so it is hard to find in Mexico and even more so in the United States and other countries. (Only 600 bottles comprised the entire lot of the batch from 2016 that I sampled.) The only bar that serves it in San Cristobal del las Casas, Mexico, is Pan Optica, which was down to one bottle after I left yesterday.

Price: $55
Proof: 80.6

Rating: 9


Las Amores Reposado Mezcal, An In-dpeth Review by Shay Addams

Las Amores, one of my favorite brands of mezcal, means “loves” (the noun) in Spanish. Las Amores makes joven, añejo and reposada from espadin agave, and an unusual mezcal from the rare cupreata agave. Amores Espadin is made from nine-year-old espadin agave in Santiago Matatlán, Oaxaca.

Amores Reposada

Aged nine months in American oak barrels, the reposada tastes like a lush ripe pear or perhaps mango, though in both cases the flavor is understated. A hint of spearmint sends it to the roof of the mouth, like a good cognac.

Light smoke, crisp with no bite and smooth, it has a mild aftertaste. Eat an orange slice after drinking a shot or two, for a full and pleasurable sensation.

(Another reviewer describes the taste as “…like pencil shavings, smoked nut, dried tropical fruit, flan, and tobacco.” This guy is nuts! There is only one way to know the taste of pencil shavings, and I refuse to take advice on anything from someone who eats pencil shavings.)

One of my top five favorite mezcals, Amores reposada is too good to waste in a mixed drink. It makes an excellent aperitif. Or two. Also look for their Amores Cupreata, made from a rare agave.

Price: $65
Proof: 74

Rating: 8


 More In-depth Mezcal Reviews by Shay Addams