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#428

13 THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT AGAVE

06 Dec 2016 By

Yes, we took an agave masterclass, and here’s what we learned about the great Mexican plant and its spirits..

We took an agave masterclass at Super Loco, and here’s what we learned about the plant, tequila and mezcal.

 

• Not all mezcals are tequilas, but all tequilas are mezcals. Tequila is a two-billion-dollar business, and is just a style of mezcal – using only blue agave grown in the state of Jalisco. Good tequila should be sipped like good whiskies, and not slammed like at a frat springbreak party. (11 Tequila Truths Every Drinker Already Knows).

• Mezcal is a distilled spirit made from some 30 varieties of agave, or maguey. Typically produced by farmers using a laborious and old school method – at primitive distilleries known as palenques – it is sold at markets to mark birthdays, funerals and occasions.

• The agaves used for mezcal are traditionally roasted in an underground pit, and wild-fermented in open vats. It’s distilled to proof, you end with a punchy, umami-ish spirit that is considered a unique expression of terroir.

agave tequila Mexico

• Agaves takes up to a decade to mature, and each piña – the usable core, stripped of its dragon spikes – yields only about 10 bottles of mezcal. Ten years, for 10 bottles, now you know why it’s three times the price of tequila. (Basically it sits in the sun and just, you know, barrel-ages itself).

• “Mezcal hits every magic word – artisanal, organic, gluten-free, vegan. It comes from a small village, and you have to drive there to get it. It’s made by a family. It automatically became cool when knowing what you eat became cool,” Bricia Lopez, mezcal legend.

jicara mezcal

• Mezcal is usually served in a jicara – the dried hull of a fruit.

• Besides the jícara, the most popular vessel is a glass votive holder with a cross etched on the bottom.

• Agave by the way, has genes that are climate-change resistant.

mezcal bottles

• There are very few global brand mezcals, as most are made in small batches. One to look out for (not pictured) is El Silencio, an entry-level spirit looking for world domination. All the above are available at Super Loco. Left to right:

Ocho Cerrito San Agustin Reposado ($16+): Cerrito de San Augustin is 6800 feet above sea level with deep red soil, rich in iron oxide. The land was leased by the Camarenas for growing agave plants and they will not lease it again meaning it is unlikely we will see a Cerrito de San Augustin vintage in the future.

Artenom 1549 Blanco ($14+/$280+): An exemplary presentation of tequila-valley terroir, Rodrigo Gómez distills this tequila of distinctive herbaceous flavor and subtle spice notes, highlighting a slightly richer volcanic base soil type, to produce a spirit with warm aromatics & fresh vegetal bouquet.

Purasangre Añejo ($20+/$400/bottle): Produced at Tequliena Distillery, NOM 1146 under the watchful eye of legendary Master Distiller Enrique Fonseca. Purasangre translates to “thoroughbred” and is made entirely from Enrique’s own blue agave grown at 1,700 metres. Aged 2 years, this elegant añejo is a balance of bitter and sweet.

Fuenteseca 9 Year Tequila ($30+): This is a one-of-a-kind line of ultra-aged sipping tequilas from legendary Master Distiller Enrique Fonseca. Aged using techniques borrowed from fine cognac, the 9 year yields flavours of peach, cocoa, bananas and clove.

Americano

• Mezcals make fine cocktails as well, one to experiment with is a Mezcalgroni.

• Ultimately, there’s only one thing to remember about mezcal and tequila: Sip it, Don’t Shoot it.

Super mucho gracias to Super Loco (and Z from 28HK) for the masterclass. There will be more sessions and you can join as well – $90++. Contact them here.

Like this? 11 things you didn’t know about tequila

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