If anybody else but Del Maguey’s Ron Cooper and chef José Andrés tried to combine the jamón of Spain’s legendary acorn-fed Ibérico pigs with mezcal, we’re not so sure how well they’d succeed. Meat in mezcal is not a new idea: the pechuga style is made in many places, incorporating a chicken breast (or sometimes venison or rabbit) into the distillation chamber during the last run. Here Cooper and Andrés substitute an Ibérico ham leg in place of the chicken breast, along with the usual combination of tropical fruits, nuts and rice. The result is wonderfully subtle and savory, the ham’s salinity reading in both aroma and flavor, permeated by a Parmesan cheese–like umami.
Reviewed in W&S June 2014.