This trio of mezcals make 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 very easy-to-drink, fruity and sweet 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. The spirit is more vegetal, but well balanced with earthy and fl oral qualities. Don Cosmé Hernandez grows the espadín agave for the San Baltazar Guélavila at 5,700 feet on rocky hills 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.
San Andrés, 48.1% abv; San Juan Del Río, 48.5% abv; San Baltazar Guélavila, 48.4%
Domaine Charbay Distillers, Ukiah, CA
This story appears in the print issue of June 2013.
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