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Back during my misspent youth, and by that I mean my early 20’s, I encountered Mezcal. I especially remember my first encounter because that’s when I discovered the magical worm inside the bottle. And I’ll never forget the taunts and jeers and peer pressure to swallow that worm. I have to admit that by the time we got down to the bottom of that bottle of Mezcal I had topped up my courage and swallowed that worm so fast I didn’t even taste it much less take a bite out of it. Oh and by the way that Mezcal was horrid stuff back then that led to monumental hangovers and other unpleasant side effects I won’t go into at this moment.

On top of that, I wasn’t really sure what in the hell Mezcal even was. I had heard rumors that it was distilled from those slimy worms or even magic mushrooms and after having tasted probably the worst Mezcal in the world I would have believed any of those misstatements. Well, that was way back in the 1970’s, and back then, that horrible Mezcal was the standard and that worm was merely a marketing ploy. Today, you will no longer find a worm in the bottle and the taste and flavor of Mezcal has advanced dramatically, just like Tequilas and they have both entered the world of super-premiums.

You see, all Tequilas are actually Mezcals but not all Mezcals are Tequilas. HUH? Let me explain. Tequila and Mezcal are produced in different states of Mexico. Tequila, by law can only be made with Blue Agave, while Mezcal can be made from upwards of 30 varieties of agave. The production process for Mezcal is different from Tequila, which leads to a different taste profile for each of them.

 

In artisanal mezcal production, the pinas are cooked in an underground, earthen pit lined with volcanic rock.  A fire is started with wood heating the rocks to extreme heat.  The pinas (agave hearts) are then placed into the pit and covered with earth.  This underground “oven” now smokes, cooks and caramelizes the pina over several days.

Okay, so at this point, you are either edified or completely confused, so let’s get to the tasting as that always helps me to figure out whether I am coming or going. The Sombra Mezcal comes in hand blown bottles that are made from recycled glass making each one unique and hand crafted just like the contents. Speaking of the contents, this spirit is transparent like water with just the slightest hint of a pale, vegetative green color. The nose is quite vegetative with the hint of agave and a touch of smoke. On the palate, I first get the taste of agave followed by that subtle smoke and then a surprisingly pleasant peppery and salty spiciness. The finish is peppery with hints of toffee and agave and lasts a fair amount of time.

This Sombra Mezcal is one very tasty treasure. The smokiness, without being oaky is simply a joy. The flavor of the agave is right up front and balanced with the salt and pepper flavors. There’s a whole lot of flavor in this spirit, and honestly I think it’s better than most Silver Tequilas. If you like tequila, you’ll love Sombra Mezcal.

Sombra Mezcal comes in 750ML bottles and is 45% ABV and can be found for around $33.99 up to $42.99.

By George Brozowski