This post is long overdue, but thankfully I made some notes which makes writing it much easier. A (long) while ago, I was able to attend an Agave de Cortes presentation here in Stockholm thanks to Cask & Company. I was surprised to find so many curious bartenders showing up quite early on a Sunday, but hey – everyone loves mezcal, right?
According to Rolando Cortes, the current master distiller, the production was started by his family around 120 years ago in Santiago Matatlán, Oaxaca, and they’re still making their mezcals the same old fashioned way – with love, tradition and care. Using only Agave Espadín, their plants are harvested when they’re around 10 years old, the leaves removed and the piñas cooked in underground pits with volcanic stones and mesquite wood. The juice is then open-fermented in pine wood vats and later distilled in a copper pot still.
You could tell that Rolando was very passionate and enthusiastic about his products – but sometimes his English wasn’t quite good enough to fully express his thoughts and knowledge. Luckily for us, one person in the audience was fluent in Spanish and managed to help out.
One of the things Rolando told us was how to drink mezcal:
1. Pour some drops into the ground as a sacrifice.
2. Wet your hands with it and smell them, try to find at least three different aromas.
3. Take a sip, hold in your mouth for 20 seconds then breathe out before swallowing.
4. Say Dixeebe when drinking with friends.
We tried the mezcal with our heads turned both left and right resulting in slightly different experiences – unfortunately I can’t remember which one I preferred, very interesting though.
Rolando also showed us how they measure the mezcal alcohol content by sucking it into a wooden straw and letting it out again into a gourd. The ABV is then calculated from the amount and size of air bubbles – the more and bigger the better, I think.
After the presentation, Rolando guided us through the three Agave de Cortes bottlings joven, añejo and extra añejo – and here are my tasting notes;
At 43% ABV, it’s clear in colour with a nice raw agave nose up front combined with some sweetness and gentle smoke. Smooth and clean with prominent herbal notes and a tingling, somewhat smoky, agave finish. Great for cocktails, maybe a little bit too refined.
Aged on American oak casks minimum 1 year – again bottled at 43% ABV, this one is light brown in colour and a more complex nose with agave, maple syrup and hints of vanilla sweetness and smoke. The mouth reveals more wooden notes mixed with citrus peel and spices before the lingering, smoky fade out. A wonderful and balanced mezcal suitable for sipping but could be used in cocktails too,
Aged on French oak minimum 3 years, only 600 liters produced every year. Amber in colour and bottled at 43% ABV, it’s got prominent aromas of oak, baking spices and ripe tropical fruit. Quite sweet and smooth yet still surprisingly herbal, with prominent notes of cooked agave together with burnt sugar, vanilla and some citrusy bitterness and smoke. A really elegant mezcal to be enjoyed on its own or together with dark chocolate.
|Photo; Cask & Company|