How to identify good mezcal

Words by Mezonte

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We came across these rules for selecting good quality mezcal at Tales of the Cocktail and thought we would share them, courtesy of Mezonte, a civil association which seeks to disseminate, promote and support the traditional mezcal producers and Mexico.

1. Look for '100% de agave' in the label.

2. Minimum alcohol content to be 45% (90 proof)

3. Label should indicate the exact provenance (village or state) of the mezcal, as well as the type of maguey used and the mezcal's craftsman, or maestro.

4. Shake the bottle to check for the formation of bubbles, or pearls. If no pearls form, do not buy the mezcal unless alcohol content is 55% or higher. You can also do this by pouring the mezcal from one glass to another.

5. If a mezcal shows an amber colour, do not buy that mezcal. It's either rested (reposado) or aged (anejado) in wood or artificial colouring. In either cases the flavour and delicate aromas of the mezcal are destroyed.

6. Rub a drop of mezcal between your hands. As it evaporates you will be able to smell the aroma of cooked maguey. If it's a bad mezcal it would smell like alcohol or nothing at all.

7. Smell the mezcal before drinking it. You will find the aroma you sensed when rubbing it between your hands. Different aromas will soon become apparent. Keep your mouth closed as you initially breathe in the scent, and open it to fully recognise the aromas.

8. Take a small sip, rinsing your mouth with the mezcal for ten seconds, exhaling its vapour through your nose. Swallow the first sip and focus on the flavour coming to life on your palate. Do this a couple of times more and after several minutes your palate will be blossoming with the flavour of cooked maguey.

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