So… It has been a while again. Every now and then it is important to come back to Mexico and recharge the batteries a bit. I arrived in Oaxaca late friday night with my compadre Max. Yesterday we spent most of the day in the historical center, a couple of markets and a few Mezcalerias. A lot of impressions in this beautifully colorful city.
The main reason we are here this time, part from the obvious love for Mezcal, is to research artesian Mezcal production. We are doing a presentation on mezcal at Berlin Bar Convent on the 8th of october. The week ahead of us is jam packed with palenque visits. I will try to do a few shorter post, but now it is time for comida!!
I have been whining the last few times about Tequila not doing it for me anymore, and why is there “no one” making tequila the way “it should” be made according to my own taste bla bla bla. The explanation I have given myself for not appreciating Tequila the way i used to is quite simple. A few years back now I started experiencing Mezcal, which has been a great ride, and i find true happiness in drinking it. It gives me what Tequila used to give me, a full on tasting experience ending in a big smile.
Mezcal is usually at a higher proof than Tequila, so it made sense for me to start the evening by drinking Tequila and finishing off with Mezcal, but after a while, the Tequila started feeling blunt and too smooth, and it is not only the taste that differs, it is the whole experience, which left me very puzzled in the beginning. But it is really quite simple. To some extent it comes down to the proof of the distillate, higher proof gives more concentration of taste, we all know this so that is nothing new. But for a while that was it, though I was never really happy with that story. So one day I took one of my favorite Mezcals to see what happens if I diluted it. I started to add a few drops of pure water to see if the reaction was similar to that of whiskey. The Mezcal in this case should try to push the water away and open up for aromas, and the experience should become richer. with the first few drops and nothing much happened, I added a few more and a few more after that, the end result should be a decrease of approximately 4%. The only result I got out of this was that the Mezcal I had in my glass was now diluted and the alcohol burn got stronger. Bummer, not what i expected. Though I had a good idea about it. I got similar result with Tequila and could not understand why. Eventually i went the long way around and did the same experiment with other spirits, and the conclusion was that spirits made from all kinds of starch converted to sugar, seemed to give an reaction, dramatic aroma changes, smoother fuller flavors etc, while the agave which does not contain starch but instead fructose and glucose felt more harsh, more diluted and not as fresh and enriching as before. So simple as, agave does not mix well with water, at least not if what you are after is a rich, full-bodied, yet smooth agave distillate. To go further with this idea, I had to get a bad Tequila and see what happened if i separated the water from the alcohol. So me and Lorry fired up the still to get some high proof Tequila and what we got was somewhere around 70% (which by law is not a tequila anymore, a maximum of 55% abc is allowed). Starting with a very poor product the end result was surprisingly good. The agave got full on, very sweet, straight from the oven kind of flavors, very strong though.
The conclusion of this must be that agave distillates and water should not mix. Agave should always de distilled to proof in my humble opinion, based entirely on my own conclusions, experiments, common sense and no what so ever scientific proof. As i found out over the years there are a few distilleries that do distill to proof even if that is 40% and you can clearly taste difference. that said, one producer could be better than the other. There is however two people that to some extent do agree with me, Tomas Estes and Carlos Camarena who together just released hands down the best Tequila I have tried since I can remember, Ocho Cask Strength Single Barrel Anejo at 54.5% abv. On top of that Carlos is releasing a Tapatio Blanco at a full 55% abv, Look forward to that, a liter of liquid smile!
Thats all for this time. Salud!
Amigos Y Amigas!
Lately there have been a lot of Tequila in my life again, and I am getting in to service again after a long time building my bar (The Barking Dog). It is still not completely done, but quite close, at least we are up and running from thursday to saturday, and I am loving being back behind the bar. As I mentioned I finally starting to find time to focus a bit more on Tequila again. A couple of weeks ago I got a case of Ocho Curado delivered from London. I must be honest, I did not know very much about it, but I trust Tomas enough to get my hand on a few bottle. And what a treat it was! A great blanco infused with cooked agave. My tasting notes on this: It is an all-night’er! There are only 480 liters of this juice available for now, so get your hands on a great first batch of Ocho Curado!
This repost goes out to Don Javier of the great little bar, La Capilla. Enjoy.