Once considered Tequila’s rough and rowdy little brother, mezcal has grown out of its worm-in-the-bottle phase, now doing its best to outshine its sibling. Alipús’s trio of mezcals is a case in point, a fascinating and delicious study in how much altitude and the distiller’s hand affect the final product. The San Juan Del Río is made from espadín agave that’s dry-farmed and grown in iron-rich soil at 4,600 feet; mezcalero Don Joel Cruz then ferments the crushed roasted agave in open oak vats before distilling, making a fruity mezcal with light smoke, spice and dried corn husk notes. For the San Andrés, the espadín agave is grown at 5,000 feet in calciferous low hills and fermented in cypress vats by Don Valente Angel; it’s more vegetal, with earthy and floral qualities. Don Cosmé Hernandez grows the espadín agave for the San Baltazar Guélavila on rocky hills at 5,700 feet and ferments the must in pine vats; it’s a wonderfully funky, smoky mezcal that’s lightly sweet and a little fruity. Taken together, these offer exceptional value and are a must-have for anyone interested in mezcal.
Reviewed in W&S Winter 2013.