In this world, sometimes you find things, and other times they find you. While in Mexico with an ear infection, Judah Kuper met his future wife and ended up marrying into a family of fifth-generation mezcaleros living in Oaxaca’s southern mountains. That love ignited a passion for mezcal as well, so much so that with his longtime friend Dylan Sloan, he started Mezcal Vago. They bottle six mezcals from three different producers, including some unique spirits like Elote, which distiller Aquilino Garcia Lopez makes with roasted corn. With its charred corn aromas, lush buttery texture and hints of cinnamon and huitlacoche, it’s a slow sipper that evokes summer cookouts. Garcia Lopez is also responsible for the Cuixe, made from a rare wild variety of agave. The mezcal bursts with verdant flavors of corn and sweet peas, with a delicate sweetness that dissolves in layers on the tongue. The Ensamble en Barro, from Salomon Rey Rodriguez, uses a blend of agaves that contribute both fruit and spice and an almost dark chocolate–smoked cherry flavor.
Reviewed in W&S June 2014.