My Agave pick March ~ Ernesto Delgado

Clande Sotol

Part of the fun in sharing my Agave picks with you each month is getting to try (or try again) some great spirits.

One of the lesser-known but still amazing spirits from México is Sotol. Sotol is not made with the Agave plant, but the process is similar to the production of Mezcal.

Sotol is made with the Dasylirion Wheeleri plant, commonly called the desert spoon, or spoonflower plant. This plant is in the Asparagaceae, or Asparagus family. It’s considered a desert succulent and grows wild in arid regions ranging from Texas to Southern México. To be labeled ‘Sotol’, it must be produced in the states of Chihuahua, Durango or Coahuila.

Most of the Sotol imported to the United States comes from Chihuahua. There are mere dozens (as opposed to hundreds) of Sotol producers in this state, most creating small batches of artisan spirits.

Up until about 30 years ago, the Mexican government made it difficult for the native Sotol producers to bring their product to market because it favored luxury brands. Finally, through perseverance of the small farmers and those who supported their efforts, Sotol was legalized.

The terroir really shines through in Sotol. Varieties produced from plants in the desert can taste earthy and herbal; some produced from plants in forested areas have strong flavors of pine, eucalyptus, and menthol.

First Impressions:

Clande Sotol is presented in a stunningly beautiful bottle. The paper is clearly hand-made with fibers running through it. We looked for information about the origin of the fiber and were unable to ascertain what plant it came from, but we suspect the desert spoon plant is at least in part represented in this gorgeous label. The logo is die cut, which gives the bottle a unique appearance. The back of each label has detailed information about the specific batch.

History of Clande Sotol:

Sotol Clande is a co-op formed from producers across the state of Chihuahua. Each family has their own special recipe, handed down through many generations. In fact, Sotol in this region has an 800-year history. Clande hopes to bring a ‘single-village’ business model to the United States, with each expression representing a specific family recipe, terroir and ingredients.  Native people often cooked a number of plants in their recipes – whatever grew nearby would end up in the mixture. Clande has set out to honor the original methods of creating Sotol and supports the rustic custom of roasting the piñas like Mezcal in wood smoke and distilling in copper.

Founder Ricardo Pico believes that the distilled spirits of México are sacred when they are part of the culture and people of a region.

This artisan Sotol is not inexpensive – it takes up to 22 years for the desert spoon to mature, and it flowers only once in its lifetime. Each bottle of Clande Sotol contains an entire desert spoon piña, which grows up to 5 feet tall and 6 feet wide. Clande is working to develop methods to create a plan of sustainability so the desert spoon is never over-harvested.

Aromas, Flavors, and the Magic of Food:

We tasted the Clande Bienvenido Fernandez, Eduardo Arrieta and Chito Fernandez. In each, the aroma and taste of the soil was readily apparent – in fact, an expert could likely tell you exactly what region and family produced the Sotol.

The Bienvenido Fernandez was smooth and earthy – with strong herbal notes.  We loved this with a spicy fish stew – each brought out the flavor in the other.

The Forest variety, Chito Fernandez, brought to mind pine, cedar and a quiet forest floor of leaves and needles. It was strong and sharp – a fascinating, almost medicinal flavor that couldn’t be forgotten. This was amazing with a Tlayuda topped with black bean paste, lots of earthy mushrooms and spice.

Clande Eduardo Arrieta was soft and herbal, with a strong finish. This paired beautifully with a traditional corn cake dessert which was only mildly sweet – the flavors were wonderful together.

I invite you to come experience the wonders of Clande Sotol – it’s part of the history and passion of my beautiful culture.

Ernesto Delgado Agave Pick for February

It’s been a pleasure sharing my Agave picks with you – those I love and think you’ll want to experience as well. Some I’m quite familiar with; others I have tasted but revisit for this article.

First Impressions:

Don Amado Espadin Rustico represents the culmination of eleven generations of Master Distillers making fine Mezcal. The label truly takes me back to the México of my childhood – the traditional artwork hints at the generations of meticulous care that goes into each bottle. The rounded cork was particularly pleasing to hold as we began the tasting process.

 

History of Don Amado Rustico:

As with all fine Tequilas and Mezcales, it’s well worth taking your time when tasting. Those bottles hold the history and passion of the people who created it beginning 300 years ago.

Don Amado uses the Espadin Agave for this spirit – grown in Oaxaca at an elevation of over 5000 feet. They allow the Agave to ripen fully before harvesting, and roast them in wood-fired earthen pits. After crushing the piña fibers are added while fermentation takes place to add a rich Agave character. The spirit is double distilled in traditional ceramic clay.

 

My Impressions:

When pouring, I could see the clarity and silver-clear quality of this Mezcal. The aromas of Minero clay, a hint of smoke, crushed walnut and spice were evident.

The flavors burst on the tongue – at first a hint of fire, followed by a surprisingly smooth taste of citrus, apple wood, and a hint of the roasted Agave sweetness.

This is a surprisingly balanced Mezcal – one that could be enjoyed on a nice day with a friend. But our group decided to explore the pairing of foods to see what might evolve.

 

The Magic of Mezcal and Food:

We tried this Mezcal with some of the Tacos from our Mezcaleria and Taco Bar. While it was wonderful with everything we paired, what made the Mezcal dance on our tongues was the Taco de Camarón al Mezcal, which has flamed shrimp, bell pepper, Mexican crema, tomatillo salsa and pineapple. What we discovered is that this Mezcal tastes as if it’s made to be paired with pineapple, particularly grilled pineapple. What joy this discovery brought!

More Don Amado Rustica was poured while we experimented with the Grilled Fish Tostadas – the mango, pineapple, red onion, cilantro and pineapple salsa were delicious with every sip.

It was such a pleasurable experience, I invite you to come in and try these pairings. I think you’ll enjoy your experience every bit as much as I did.

 

My Agave Pick for January Clase Azul Ultra Añejo

Every month, I’ve been sharing a special Agave spirit with you – one I love and think you’ll enjoy.

Tequila aficionados love the anticipation of that first taste. We wonder if the spirit will live up to our expectations or – if we’re lucky – exceed them. As a Designer, I also love taking the time before that first sip to admire the bottle and label. It heightens my anticipation if they’re artistic and pleasing to behold.

First Impressions

Clase Azul Ultra Añejo comes in a beautiful bottle that hints at the treasure within. Every handmade decanter used for the Ultra takes Clase Azul two full weeks to create.  They are hand-painted with liquid platinum by a talented artisan and have a label made from 24 carat gold. The Clase Azul agave medallion is made from sterling silver.
This bottle is definitely a collector’s item – one you’ll want to proudly display on your bar.

History of Clase Azul Ultra Añejo

Clase Azul represents the passion of Mexican culture with their products – from the design of the bottles to the Agave spirits within, their goal is to create an appreciation of traditional Mexican art and traditions.

Once the Blue Weber Agave is harvested, it’s cooked in traditional brick ovens for 72 hours. It’s then fermented, and distilled twice. All Clase Azul Tequilas are produced in the Los Altos Highlands, in the town of Jesús María. Clase Azul ages the Ultra for five years in previously used sherry wood casks from Spain.

My Experience

Pouring this Tequila into a glass is a pleasure of its own. The color is a beautiful dark amber, hinting at the richness and beauty of the Tequila. The body is pure silk.

Aromas of caramel, vanilla, fruit and wood emanate from the glass. I took my time with this, because simply experiencing the aroma was wonderful.

The initial taste was very smooth, as you might expect. Flavor bursts from this Tequila, with a subtle sweetness that is very pleasing, hints of oak and just the right amount of spice.

With subsequent sips, it just got better and better. This is an elegant Tequila – one to take the time to appreciate from beginning to end. Truly more of an experience than simply a drink.

Other reviewers have had similar experiences. “Spectacular” and “Worth every penny!” are comments seen often. It’s no surprise.

Foods to try with Clase Azul Ultra Añejo

I tried this Tequila with our Tacos Poblanos de Arrachera and Pipian Verde con Chuleta de Puerco. It was excellent with both. The Ultra doesn’t overwhelm the flavorful dishes, but it retains its beautiful flavors throughout the meal. I think it would be great with our Ribeye con Chorizo and any Mole dish as well.
 
Special Offer at Mayahuel

Mayahuel has a very limited quantity of the Clase Azul Ultra Añejo. While it lasts, if you purchase a glass you can order any appetizer, entrée and dessert at no cost. We hope you experience this amazing Tequila at least once – you’ll remember it forever.

View our Tequila & Mezcal Club tasting event with Clase Azul!

My Agave Pick for December– Señor Ernesto Delgado

 

Every month, I’ve been sharing a special Agave spirit with you – one I love and think you’ll want to try.

As a designer, I always look at the bottle and label. The attention to detail often tells me what I can anticipate when I take that first taste.

First Impressions:
The original Crema de Tequila 1921 label features Maria de Los Dolores Eugenia Collado de Jazo, the Abuela of Juan Francisco Collado, President of Tequila 1921. She was known as one of the most beautiful women in the state of Jalisco, and revered for her creative culinary pursuits.

Tequila 1921 has created two additional special labels for the Crema. ‘Azul Riviera Maya’ is the color of the Caribbean. It represents spirituality, freedom, power and life as a divine essence, and pays tribute to the Maya Culture which settled in Southeastern México thousands of years ago.

‘Rosa Mexicano’ was chosen to express energy, life-force and love. In 1949, Ramón Mexican Valdiosera, a painter, cartoonist, designer and journalist introduced this shade as a symbol of Mexican charisma.

History of Tequila 1921:
1921’s acclaimed Blanco Tequila is used to create the Crema. Made from Agave grown in the Jalisco highlands, careful attention is given to ideal sugar concentration of the plants prior to harvest. They are cooked, rested and cooled over a slow 72 hour process.

Crema de Tequila 1921 is made in the City of León, which is located 90 miles East of the Jalisco Highlands in the State of Guanajuato. With an elevation of 5955’, León is a cosmopolitan city of over 1.5 million residents, many universities, and a center of commerce for the area.

To the Blanco 1921 adds spices and natural flavors that enhance the mild sweet Agave flavor. It is tested to ensure it has the desired velvet texture and aromas of caramel, nutmeg, coffee and cinnamon and flavors of coffee, chocolate, honey, caramel and toffee.

My Impressions:
This is an excellent dessert served lightly chilled in a flute. I love the aromas of coffee, caramel, chocolate and spices. The flavor is complex and full of cream, nutmeg, cinnamon, coffee and chocolate with a hint of sweet Agave.

I love this liqueur by itself. Truly, it doesn’t need anything to make it more perfect as a dessert to be savored.  However, I have also enjoyed the flavors this imparts to strong coffee and cocktails.  Most notably, our December holiday cocktail Maya’s Rompope which features Crema 1921, Almond liqueur, fresh cream, Agave syrup and Egg froth is one of the most creative uses for this amazing liqueur.

Foods to try with Crema de Tequila 1921:
Quite honestly, I feel this is a dessert and is best after a robust, spicy dinner such as our Tres Moles Enchiladas or Adobo de Res.  It is a perfect digestif, with a creamy cooling affect.

If I were to choose a dessert to pair with this, it would be our Imposible – with rich moist chocolate cake on the bottom and creamy, caramelly flan on top.  Truly an indulgent combination of flavors that will send you into a dreamy, blissful dessert trance.

I invite you to enjoy the experience of a glass of Crema de Tequila 1921, or enjoy it in our Maya’s Rompope – it will most definitely put you in the Holiday spirit!

My Agave Pick for October

Señor Ernesto Delgado –

I’ve been sharing a Tequila or Mezcal with you every month – one I think you’ll love to try.

The first thing that attracts me is the look of the bottle and label. So many of the small-batch Agave spirits are bottled in a way that’s artful and meant to pay tribute to a region or history. When I see that a lot of care has gone into the selection of the glass, the shape of the bottle, and design of the label, I also feel excitement that the same meticulous care has gone into the contents.

This month, I decided to try the Gran Dovejo High Proof Blanco. The bottle itself is intriguing, because it is lovely in its’ simplicity. The bottle and label are classy and elegant, but allow the liquid to take center stage. This is inviting to an aficionado – we want to know more about what’s inside.

A Local Connection

Sipping Tequila one warm summer day, Frank Mendez of Dixon and his cousin Jesus Venegas were having a heart-to-heart conversation about the desire of Aficionados to support the craftsmanship that goes into the finest Tequilas. At the time, there were many mass-produced brands on the market. Agave growers had an over-abundance of ripe plants, and opportunistic large producers were buying all they could at a low price. Frank and Jesus were concerned that the wrong people were getting into the business of Tequila for the wrong reasons- mainly profit – and both the purity of the spirit and the honor of the tradition were suffering.

Tequila and long conversations often seem to lead to the evolution of dreams. The two men felt passionately that Tequila should be created with craftsmanship and heart, and there in the heat of the afternoon, they made the decision to make their own brand. They wanted to do it right. Growing as nature intended; small production, proper distillation, patient aging. Making an ultra-premium, single estate Tequila with an Agave flavor.

They reached out to Leopoldo Solis Tinoco, who was something of a legend in the world of Tequila. He was a perfectionist. A Master Distiller who respected the Agave and the culture. They presented their idea, and were thrilled when he wanted to be part of the new brand.

Together, they selected fields of Agave which met their exacting standards. They chose the Feliciano Vivanco Distillery, located in the highlands of Arandas, Jalisco to process the raw Agave. Sen. Tinoco was joined by Gabriel Espindola Martinez, another influential Master Distiller whose reputation for integrity in the making of Tequila was legendary.

Today, Gran Dovejo is considered one of the truly Agave-forward ultra-premium Tequilas, earning numerous awards in prestigious Tequila competitions. Frank Mendez loves to give people an opportunity to taste what Tequila was meant to be. He hopes to grow distribution to allow a broader audience of people to taste fine Tequilas and learn how they are affected by micro-climates, terroir, and aging. How very much it resembles fine wine. One of his favorite activities is conducting blind tastings – asking people to pause and savor each Tequila, share the aromas and flavors they experience.

My impressions:

I feel the popularity of high-proof Tequila stems from the desire of people to have a more organic Agave experience. This Tequila is wonderful – at first aroma, it lifts your soul and makes you smile.

Gran Dovejo High Proof Blanco is extremely smooth, full of flavor, and exquisitely complex. No one aroma or flavor overpowers the other – it’s well balanced and consistent, with soft Agave notes throughout.

Aromas and flavors of fresh Agave, citrus, and pineapple pleasantly invite you to linger. This will be loved by Aficionados, of course – but even the uninitiated drinkers will love it. I’d be happy to introduce someone to Tequila with this Blanco – and I think it will easily convert a non-Tequila drinker to appreciate the amazing qualities of fine Tequila. It’s an elegant expression while remaining true to the spirit of Tequila.

 

Foods to try with Gran Dovejo High Proof Blanco

Unlike pairing fine wine with foods – where it’s typical to choose a lighter white wine to go with fish or fowl, I find that the contrast between a Tequila and a food can truly raise the experience to a new level.

Here’s what we tried and loved with the Gran Dovejo:

Enchiladas Tres Moles – ‘Exhibiting México’ – three enchiladas with three different moles: Mole Huitlacoche, Pipian and Poblano. These flavors are strong and full of spice. The Gran Dovejo High Proof Blanco’s softness was such a perfect contrast it complemented the flavors without ever competing. The Agave/citrus/pineapple flavors seemed to heighten the flavors of both the food and the Tequila, so that together they seemed like a perfect symphony – every note beautiful.

 

I invite you to experience Gran Dovejo Blanco High Proof Tequila – whether you enjoy a simple, perfect glass or try it with your favorite spicy dish – I think you’ll love it.

~Señor Ernesto Delgado

 

My Agave pick for August – Senor Ernesto Delgado

This month, I chose to share Cielo Rojo Bacanora with friends. Bacanora is one of the lesser-known Agave spirits, yet like Sotol and Raicilla, has its’ own distinct flavor profile.

Cielo Rojo Bacanora First Impressions
Cielo Rojo, or Red Sky, comes in an intriguing bottle. It’s made from hand blown recycled glass with a pattern like an inverse hobnail – or if you prefer, thousands of little dimples. The bottle is pleasing to look at, and pleasingly heavy to handle. The tiny indentations in the glass feel good in your hand. As soon as I picked it up, I felt I was holding something substantial; something worthy of carefully bottling. The label depicts the sacred Rancho Tepua Mountain in the Sonoran Sierra Madre region of México.

History

Bacanora is produced from wild Pacifica Agave, called Yaquiana (A. Angustifolia), which grows in the mountain range that frames the State of Sonora. This is the only region where Bacanora may be produced. Interestingly, Bacanora was illegal in both México and the US from 1915 until 1992.

Cielo Rojo was the first Bacanora to be imported to the United States. It’s still produced on the same ranchero where it’s been made for four centuries. The wild Agaves are harvested from steep canyons in the Sierra Madres and packed out by Burro to the 25,000 acre Rancho Tepua of Roberto Contreras.

The Agaves are roasted in traditional rock and clay ovens in the ground, then given a long fermentation with wild yeasts before being double distilled in very small copper pot stills.

As you know, I’m partial to Blancos. I love the crisp, clear taste and appreciate that it allows me the luxury of tasting the skill of the Master Distiller and terroir without the addition of flavors imparted by barrel aging.

Here are my impressions:

Aroma: The aroma is sweet and mild, with hints of black licorice and herbs. A very slight smoky touch, very subtle. Just after opening the bottle, close your eyes. You’ll envision yourself standing on a steep hillside overlooking hundreds of sweet-smelling wild Agave plants on a hot summer afternoon.

Flavor: This Bacanora tastes pure and smooth. It’s elegant in its simplicity. Sweet agave dominates, with a very pleasant black licorice spice. The flavors tingle on the tip of the tongue and become more pronounced in the throat.

This Bacanora gets sweeter and more inviting as you sip, but it’s a natural sweetness like pure spring water.

Pairing with food:

Unlike most delicate and smooth Agave spirits, Cielo Rojo stood up to strong flavors in food without getting lost. We tried it with Esquites and found that it complemented the flavors of the sweet corn and spice – making us want to take a bit and a sip over and over.

We also tried it with house-made corn tortilla chips and fire roasted tomato salsa. Cielo Rojo was a lovely contrast with the strong flavors of tomato and peppers – it added a clear note of flavor.

This Bacanora is also well-suited to sit and sip with a friend under the stars on a warm summer evening.

I invite you to come in for a taste! ~ Señor Ernesto Delgado

 

 

 

My Tequila Pick of the Month July ~ Señor Ernesto Delgado

Each month, I’ll share with you a Tequila or Mezcal I love. As a Designer, I’m always drawn to the style and art on the bottles first. It’s an adventure opening the bottle and tasting the Tequila, whether for the first time or simply after I haven’t tried it for a while.

This month, I brought out one of my favorites to share with friends. Tequila 123. Together, we tasted the Blanco, Reposado and Añejo – without food and then paired with food. The results were amazing.

My personal taste tends to run toward crisp, clear Blancos. It’s in these that I can admire the clear flavor of the Agave, the skill of the Master Distiller and the minerals from the soil.

Tequila 123 is beautifully bottled and is intriguing from the first look. When I see the care and effort that went into the packaging, I want to learn more about the company and the Tequila. The glass is hand-blown with the bubbles that result from imperfections in the recycled glass when it is melted at high temperatures – gas and air become trapped in the molten liquid, creating bubbles. The Tequila 123 labels are simple and clear but true to the culture of México. They are meticulously created using black and white Scratch art with striking red accents. Scratch art employs a form of direct engraving where the artist scratches off dark ink to reveal a white or colored layer beneath. Tequila 123 has chosen to use only Soy ink in their labels, to stay true to the organic nature of the product. The style pays tribute to the history of México – from ancient times to present, while it embraces the future of Tequila.

Tequilero David Ravandi’s vision was to create an organic Tequila specifically to please wine enthusiasts. Using artisan methods, small-batch distillation and hand-bottling on the estate, he has created a Tequila with delicate floral aromas and complex minerality.

Here are my impressions:

Blanco:
Very clean and easy to sip! An Agave forward aroma, quite different at the top of the glass and the bottom, with clear citrus, pineapple and very pleasant sweetness. The floral notes – almost tropical in nature – come out in the flavor, and when added to the citrus and pineapple give it an excellent, lingering flavor. This has a clean finish. Truly a Tequila to honor the Agave!

The Blanco was especially wonderful with our Guacamole. Both the Tequila and the Guacamole became more intense when enjoyed together, smoother and so wonderful it was difficult to move on to the other Tequilas. I wanted to stop time and simply enjoy this lovely combination. This is a Tequila for a fiesta, an outdoor celebration, when you want to serve something your guests will remember.

Reposado:
Aromas and flavors of sweet Agave, subtle caramel, with a mild toasted quality from the barrels. Very easy to sip and enjoy. I found it pleasing that the Agave flavor is still very present in this Reposado, and doesn’t diminish during the aging process which is in white oak barrels for 6 months. I’d enjoy this Tequila in a relaxed, comfortable setting with someone special.

The Reposado was great with roasted Poblanos in our Dobladitas de Chile Poblano – Blue corn tortillas filled with melted cheese, roasted poblano peppers & sautéed onions. Topped with pickled red onion, cilantro and salsa de chile guajillo. The flavors were perfect together- I highly recommend ordering them so you can experience the combination.

Añejo:
This Tequila still maintains the Agave notes, though the nose is more subtle. The alcohol is more prominent, with a stronger, sharper Tequila note. Bright flavors of pepper are followed with darker, richer tastes of roasted Agave. The Añejo is aged for 18 months in white oak barrels.

The Añejo was really good with our Arrachera Tacos – the stronger Tequila note was balanced by the marinated flank steak, roasted Poblanos, and cilantro. I’d enjoy this Tequila with a hearty beef or pork dish.

Tequila tasting is very subjective. You and I may come up with entirely different tasting notes – and that is part of the fun. Just to give you an added dimension, here are a few reviews by distiller.com Expert Reviewer Ryan Conklin. Let me know what you taste!

Blanco:
“This unaged offering shows light and delicate floral aromas of lily and honeysuckle along with strong smells of raw agave nectar and fruity components of ripe peaches, watermelon and fresh-cut grass. There are earthy and citrus flavors found on the palate with wet clay, petrol, lemon peel, and sharp black pepper making impressions. The tequila is both complex and delicate displaying both the volcanic soil and the agave hearts themselves.”

Reposado:
“This reposado offers a great balance between age and youthfulness, displaying herbal and vegetal aromas of grass, mint, and piquillo peppers followed fruit and baked aromas of marzipan, orange peel, cloves and Mexican chocolate. On the palate, there is a lot of fresh agave flavor, a lemony citrus-peel brightness followed by rich salted-caramel and vanilla notes. Overall, a rich and complex reposado offering great variance between spice, fruit and vegetal with a bold agave backbone and delicate minty finish.”

Añejo:
“This Valley añejo displays big aromas of vanilla and oak, followed by dark, bitter Baker’s chocolate and sweet ripe peaches. Up front, the flavors are of sharp white pepper and bright lemon peel, followed by rich roasted agave and orange marmalade. Overall, this is a rich and unctuous tequila with a very enjoyable evolution.”

This was truly a magical tasting experience – one I’m sure I’ll want to repeat.

Pairing Premium Mezcales and True Mexican Food with Señor Ernesto Delgado

Written for Señor Ernesto Delgado

Fine Mezcales (and fine Tequilas) have much in common with fine wines.

The quality of the Agave, the soil, microclimate, harvesting, processing and aging all play an essential role in the finished product. When tasting an artisanal Mezcal, it’s important to understand that the tasting process is also similar. With the first sip, you should simply be introducing the Mezcal to your lips and tongue – with Mezcals higher alcohol content, taking a moment to allow yourself to acclimate to the difference is good. (Fine Tequila is Like Fine Wine – How to Taste Tequila) A glass designed for the optimal enjoyment of the aromas, flavors and finish of each will enhance your experience tenfold.

Mezcal is a social drink. It’s meant to be enjoyed with other Aficionados, and is especially wonderful with small bites – appetizers – as a part of the exploration of the varied and nuanced aromas and flavors.

There is much written about pairing wine and food, but little on the subject of Mezcal and food. This is surprising, because making Mezcal is an ancient and revered skill – once it was thought to be created only for the Gods. Indigenous peoples also were amazingly creative with the cuisine they developed – the artful combinations of flavors and textures which made up their daily diet. (Aztec diet)

Artful pairing can intensify the flavors of both the Mezcal and the cuisine – and vastly increase your enjoyment of the two. In general, a pairing will either bring similar flavors together or contrast the flavors. Most of the truly sublime pairings feature at least some similarities in flavor, richness, or texture.

The elements of Mezcal

  1. Smokiness
    Many Mezcales have at least some degree of smokiness, because of the way in which the Agave is cooked. It is common for Master Distillers to use the wood which is indigenous to the region for cooking. They run the spectrum, from earthy and richly smoky to a delicate, nearly absent smoke which allows the citrus or Agave flavors to shine.
  1. Flavors
    Mezcales can have an infinite variety of aromas and flavors. Just some of the flavor notes you’ll discover with Mezcal are citrus, herbal, pepper, dried chiles, cologne , chocolate, cinnamon, leather, and of course Agave.
  2. Potency
    Is the Mezcal smooth? Subtle and delicate? Or is it thrilling? The potency of the Mezcal – the mouthfeel, finish, texture and richness will play a role in the manner in which it dances with food. Trying to drink a spicy, thrilling, rich Mezcal with a light fresh herbal dish might simply overwhelm the food to the extent that you simply lose those flavors.

The Properties of Food

Here are the essential properties of food, broken down into categories:

  1. Fat
    Many meat and dairy products fall into this category. Balancing the fat with a Mezcal that is rich, but acidic (think citrus, pine or spice) can bring out the best in both.
  2. Acid
    An acidic dish is often fresh, bright, and tangy. Greens can easily be overpowered by a smoky Mezcal. Instead, try one which has subtle herbal flavors, with just a touch of sweetness.
  3. Bitterness
    Foods which have a touch of bitterness, such as dried peppers, dark leafy greens, and complex sauces are prized in fine cuisine. They do create a more challenging task when pairing with the proper Mezcal. A mole sauce, for example, might be delicious with a slightly smoky, spicy/peppery Mezcal.
  4. Salt
    Salty dishes seem to call out for a bolder Mezcal – one with a good amount of smoke, and a more ‘dazzling’ and exciting flavor.
  5. Texture
    Some foods are ‘heavier’ than others. In general, matching textures really works in your favor. A steak, for example, will be overpowering to a light, fruity Mezcal.
  6. Sweetness
    Sweet desserts are best paired with a Mezcal which has delicate, tropical fruit notes or a chocolate or caramel flavor. It’s best here to try not to use a Mezcal which is heavy or rich, and instead opt for one with a balance of lightness and flavor.

Here are some of Sen. Ernesto Delgado’s favorites:

Vago Elote Mezcal

A nose of smoky toasted corn and dry river stones. Layered flavors of green tropical fruit, honeycomb and a bit of smoke. A long finish replete with papaya and mint.

We love this with our Yucatea Pochinita Pibil – a delicious marinated pork in achiote spice, black beans, red pickled onions & cilantro.

Tosba Espadin Mezcal

Sikil P'akAromas of cinnamon, cooked Agave, and toasted nut with a balance of sweetness and acidic citrus. Just a touch of smoke and ash makes this a complex and engaging Mezcal.

Perfect with our Sikil P’ak, a flavorful dip made from roasted pumpkin seed, garlic, cilantro and a bit of cream and served with both black corn and regular corn tortilla wedges.

Rey Campero Joven Mezcal

Floral aromas, with a touch of citrus peel followed by flavors of citrus, black pepper and earthy-vegetal components, with a hint of smoke.

We think this is wonderful with our Mole Con Pollo Taco – slowly cooked chicken, smothered in rich and complex mole negro sauce sprinkled with sesame seed.

Alipus Espadin Mezcal

Rich, smoky and slightly sweet, it is smooth on the tongue and leaves with a lovely smoky finish

Try this with our Steak Taco, a mouth-watering combination of tender, juicy steak, Oaxacan cheese, and nopal (cactus), topped with a sweet-tangy pineapple tomatillo salsa.

Clase Azul Durango Mezcal

Mango cakeA delicate and beautifully subtle Mezcal, with a lovely sweetness. This is an ultra-premium spirit, one which is well-worth treating yourself on a special occasion. The bottle is a piece of art in itself – inspired by the ‘Black Clay’ style of pottery, which is one of the most revered styles of intricately detailed Mexican folk art.

When we tasted this lovely Mezcal with our Pastel de Mango, we fell in love. They were meant for each other. Pastel de Mango is a light, creamy cake filled with fresh mango custard and topped with smooth chocolate sauce and freshly whipped cream.

 

The most important factor to remember when exploring food and Mezcal is to have fun! Be adventurous, taste flights of Mezcales, keep notes on your favorites and try some with a special dinner instead of wine. We think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

As Señor Delgado, owner of Tequila Museo Mayahuel loves to say “You won’t truly know México in your heart until you know Mezcal in your soul.”

We have events throughout the year to showcase artisanal, ultra-premium Mezcales and Tequilas. Join our Tequila and Mezcal Club, and you will never miss an exciting opportunity to try something new!

 

 

 

 

Mayahuel’s Tequila and Mezcal Club

Written for Señor Ernesto Delgado

 

Are you a Tequila or Mezcal Aficionado?

If so, it’s likely you are always yearning to try a new Tequila or Mezcal, and learn more about the Agave grower, the Master Distiller and the process of each unique brand. Maybe you have heard about the wonders of Tequila and the mysteries of Mezcal – but you don’t know where to begin.

Mayahuel tequila ocho 2

Tequila and Mezcal are unlike any other spirit. Fine Tequila can be more closely compared to fine wine – the terroir (soil and weather conditions, including microclimates) distilling process and aging all play a part in the beauty of the final product. This variance between brands, types, and year of production is one of the things that makes Tequila and Mezcal so alluring. There is even a discernable difference in a Tequila produced from one field to the next.

 

Unlike most Rum or Vodka drinkers, who have a ‘favorite’ and are quite loyal to it, the Tequila Aficionado has a long list they hope to sample – and that list tends to grow, rather than shrink.

 

As an Aficionado, you probably love ‘Talking Tequila’ with others who understand and share your passion.  It’s a quest for perfection; an appreciation for the time and craftsmanship that goes into each bottle.

Mayahuel Almamezcaleria photo

Is this you? If so, you’ll love our Tequila and Mezcal club! There’s no cost to join, and you’ll not only have a great time, you will get some really terrific deals.

 

Learn more here on our Tequila & Mezcal Club page.

 

El Tesoro Tequila – The Most Awarded Tequila in the World

Written for Señor Ernesto Delgado

 

El Tesoro Tequila – the standard by which all tequila should be judged. 

Connoisseurs of fine Tequila have individual ‘favorites’, but nearly all will agree that El Tesoro is the gold standard by which fine tequila can be judged.  We spent an evening with Senor Carlos Camarena, of El Tesoro Tequila recently – tasting the incomparable Blanco, Reposado, and Anejo.

Senor Camarena is an entertainer. He loves to tell stories of his life in a family that reveres the Agave, and whose driving force is to produce the world’s finest tequila.

El Tesoro - the World's Most Awarded Tequila
El Tesoro – the World’s Most Awarded Tequila

El Tesoro, ‘The Treasure’, was started by his grandfather, Don Felipe.  Don Felipe had a dream – he knew in his heart that if he created something truly special, people would buy it. Don Felipe hired field workers to plant many acres of Agave plants. The workers laughed behind his back – why would anyone pay to plant something you could not eat? They all thought it was funny that this man would pay them to plant these inedible plants and then would have to pay them again just to remove them from the dirt.

Don Felipe believed that it is essential to bring craftsmanship to every step of the tequila-making process. His life was devoted to the production of small-batches of the exquisite liquid. Through Carlos Camarena, this tradition continues.  The recipes used today are the same as those his grandfather used. The process is every bit as exacting. After the baked agave is crushed by the tahona wheel, the fibers remain with the fermented liquid through the first distillation. The tequila is then distilled twice with no additives – even water – to bring it to proof. It’s always distilled to the exact proof required for bottling.

Here are some notes from our tasting, and some reviews by others:

The Blanco was light and slightly fruity. It had a delicate aroma and was intensely herbal. A reviewer in AboutFood said it was ‘bold, aromatic and amazingly smooth. A great sipper and perfect tequila for tequila cocktails’

The Reposado, aged two months – one year, was smooth, with an aroma of tobacco and a subtle sweet pepper herbal flavor. A reviewer found it ‘mellow and rich, with subtle wood tones’ and recommended it highly as a sipping tequila

The Anejo, aged from one to three years was creamy and luxurious, described by Beverage Testing Institute in 2010 as”A symphony of agave and spicy oak flavors.” They echoed the sentiment in 2011 saying, “Stunning complexity and depth of flavor”

We were also treated to a taste of the El Tesoro de Don Felipe Paradiso, thanks to the generosity of Mayahuel’s owner, Ernesto Delgado. Described by Tequila.net as ‘Irresistable and deliciously smooth. Literally a paradise created by Don Felipe Camarena And Alain Royer of A. de Fussigny Cognac, it takes on a remarkable elegance from its distinct, Cognac barrel aging process.’  We thought it was almost too perfect for mere mortals!

El Tesoro - a class of tequila all its own
El Tesoro – a class of tequila all its own

A perfect menu to complement the tequila

Cocktails and dinner for this event were also amazing. Master Mixologist Oscar Escobar created a cocktail with lemon juice, agave syrup, angostura bitters, fresh basil and El Tesoro Blanco. The resulting elixir was both refreshing and complex – a sophisticated drink.

Dinner began with Sikil P’ak, a thick and creamy pumpkin seed dip served with fresh, warm and crisp tortilla wedges. The next course was Mayahuel’s famous Ceviche – tender, delicately flavored shrimp cooked in fresh lime juice, with  crisp cucumber, avocado & cilantro. Mayahuel’s signature dish, creamy Poblano soup was served after the Ceviche. Silky and spicy, it was a perfect following to the tartness of the Ceviche. A new entree was introduced – Adobo de Res, tender slow-simmered beef in an adobe ‘tres chiles’ sauce -a flavorful rich and complex sauce – served with avocado, fresh red onions and white rice. The finale was akin to eating a cloud. Fresh Margarita lime custard. The room, which had been buzzing with conversation, went silent while we savored each spoonful.

The highlight of the evening for most was the unexpected tasting of the El Tesoro de Don Felipe Paradiso. Most of us never have the opportunity to taste tequila of this caliber – and it has likely spoiled us forever by giving us a new pinnacle by which to judge all tequilas.

El Tesoro puts quality before quantity – with small-batch exquisite tequilas made with regard for excellence. The end result clearly shows the passion and perfection. When asked what he would say to his grandfather if he could talk with him today, Senor Camerena said “I’d ask him if he was proud, if he feels we have realized his vision.” We’re certain Don Felipe would be very proud, indeed.