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Up until recently I've managed to avoid getting in on mezcal, but it's become a fairly important spirits category in newer Tiki recipes so I'm finally taking the plunge. Based on some exceptionally half-assed spot research (and further incentivized by sale pricing), I picked up a bottle of Del Maguey Vida. Although my understanding is that this is generally accepted as a good 'entry' Mezcal, I'm not entirely thrilled with my results so far. The smokiness seems overbearing and out of balance, and the overall impression is kind of one dimensional along those lines, contrary to a very different (and more complex-sounding) tasting note advertised on the back label.
The long and short of it is that even with as little as a quarter ounce in some of the recipes I've made, I end up with drinks that taste primarily like smoke. Like, this is what I assume Laphroaig and Ardbeg might taste like if they were unaged. Am I perhaps the victim of outlier batch variation? Are there different mezcals the community would recommend for more balanced results? Or or does everything I'm saying check out and this is a 'me' problem?
[ Edited by Celeres517 on 2022-09-06 11:07:00 ]
I have some Mezcal (don't have the brand name with me) that is very smoky also. I like it at 1/4 oz in a cocktail to add a little smokiness but the 2 oz called for in some drinks would taste like you were licking an ashtray!
I've gotten excellent results with Monte Alban:
1 1/2 oz. lime juice 1 1/2 oz. orange juice 1 1/2 oz. Monte Alban Mezcal 1 oz. Cruzan Blackstrap Navy Rum 1 oz. Rhum Clement Martinique Rum 3/4 oz. Passionfruit syrup 1/2 oz. Gran Marnier 1/4 oz. Velvet Falernum 1/4 oz. Demerara Cane Sugar syrup 1/4 oz. Homemade Grenadine
Rim large snifter or tiki mug with a mixture of sea salt, cinnamon, Telicherry and red Cayenne pepper. Shake all ingredients with crushed ice except for Grenadine. Pour contents unstrained into snifter or mug. Float grenadine on top.
[ Edited by MrBaliHai on 2022-09-06 13:16:38 ]
[ Edited by MrBaliHai on 2022-09-06 13:34:44 ]
[ Edited by MrBaliHai on 2022-09-06 13:35:20 ]
I have a bottle of the Del Maguey, and I like it. It is a good quality mezcal - and smoky is a part of what mezcal is expected to be. I would even say "strong smoky" is correct. However, from your description, I suggest your experience indicates that you now have an opportunity to compare other mezcals -- either by tasting or by reading online reviews. I'm not aware of a "smokiness rating scale," so that could be a bit of a challenge.
But, another option I can suggest, would be to take your Del Maguey and mix it with another high-quality non-smoky tequila to reduce the smokiness. Two examples I recommend are Don Julio and El Tesoro. Both are reasonably priced and of very respectable quality. I do not suggest using Patron for this.
My two coconut shells there for you, for what it's worth. Have fun with it and I think you'll get to where you want to be.
Thanks, this is helpful advice. I've noticed in some write-ups that descriptions might suggest some differences in flavor profile---for example, adjectives like sweet, savory, umami, etc as opposed to smoky, but you are right---nothing like a comprehensive style chart. I might dig around to see if I can find something like that, and if I do I'll report it back here.
I'd love for this to be a new experimentation project, but I'm making a conscious effort to limit the number of mezcal bottles on my bar. I've got dozens of rums, cordials, brandies, and whiskies currently open, so for mezcal I'm looking to stick to no more than two or maybe three selections, all for mixing purposes, and hopefully each representative of a different style or profile. Basically, I'm open to recommendations for bottles that might be a departure from what I currently have.
In the interim I might try cutting with tequila as you suggest and see how that works out. To be clear, I like smoke as an element in cocktails, but I felt my results with this particular bottle of Vida have not produced well balanced drinks.
There are a lot of smoke bombs in the mezcal world. Some is wanted but can easily overwhelm. For something better balanced yuu baal if you can find it. Or Banhez which I think has a very pineapple element to it. Both should work well in a tiki drink.
Try out Montelobos. It’s what Trader Vic’s Atlanta uses and it has a gentle smokiness. Pairs well with light rum.
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