MIKE: You are watching Sipping Off the Cuff at TequilaAficionado.com a part of Tequila Aficionado Media. I’m Mike Morales in San Antonio. That gentleman over there with the wild hairdo…
RICK: Rick Levy in San Diego.
MIKE: Rick is helping me out, helping us out, as we go through a variety pack of Scorpion Mezcal, and Rick is just – we fell in love with the Blue Agave previously, if you’ve watched that with kind of a glitch in between.
RICK: I’m new to mezcal, and Mike is introducing me. And so he first gave me the training wheels and put me on the Blue Agave Mezcal and it was really beautiful, we loved it.
MIKE: Yeah, we did, it’s really different. It’s not – as I said to you before, and to our watchers out there, our viewers – if you’re expecting it to taste like a tequila, it’s not. It will open your eyes though, it will rise up to greet you because it was made a little bit more traditionally and as we discovered, in copper pot stills, I believe, which is what the information said to us on the card previously. This one is the Espadin, now we’re going to go a little bit more – this is kind of what we’re used to Rick, the Espadin. In other words, it’s mezcal made from espadin, which is the traditional plant that most mezcals are made from. And depending on where they come from and where they’re harvested, and the hand of the maker, and the region – you know it all comes from Oaxaca and several other parts of that area in Mexico, but, you know just Oaxaca alone with the different microclimates and the makers, and the ABV. These are 40 ABV folks, that’s 80 proof. This is probably, as Rick said, a great introductory level of alcohol for those of you who are just experimenting with mezcals; you’re coming over from the tequila world and you kind of want to know what all the fuss is about. Because…
RICK: I was, you know, the mezcals I’ve had before were very smokey, they were probably very traditional, but I was turned off by the smoke. And so far with the one that we’ve tried, the smoke isn’t as predominant.
RICK: So, you know, it was very – the fruit forward, you know the plant. And the nose was just big and herbal, and you still got that kind of peppery feeling on your palate and it had just this incredibly long finish and you know, just a hint of smoke.
MIKE: The thing that we talked about off-camera though, was the mouth feel. We kind of neglected that because there’s so much to talk about when you break these down with the different plants. I know for me, I had to actually cleanse my palate in between the Blue Agave, and before we attacked the Espadin, because I could still taste it!
RICK: You know, I did that as well, but I am still tasting it.
MIKE: Are you really? Wow.
RICK: I am, you know, even after the mineral water and alcohol (laughing).
MIKE: Yeah, we – I like to use Vodka, use a neutral grain spirit, to rinse out your mouth; Vodka, some water as well, spit it out. You know, and that seems to do the trick for me, at least when I do tequilas, and that’s more of a traditional way of doing it. Sometimes, I know that with Alex we like to use matzo crackers. So for those of you who – and I’m not even sure if this is kosher or not, I think these mezcals are, but – in any case, anything like a dry cracker a non-salted cracker would help to cleanse anything like that. But these are really substantial mezcals and there’s no additives. If I know these folks, and I do, this is – what you see is what you get and if it’s going to coat your palate, it’s just doing it naturally from the oils in the plant itself and how, the method of distillation.
These are from what I can tell, on our cards here, we have Douglas French, who is the founder, he’s the master distiller. It’s copper pot stilled, and I think so far the first two that we’ve had have been copper pot. Artisanal, so it’s steam-cooked, is what the type of distillery is what it says here.
RICK: So, now with mezcals, I’ve heard about them cooking the agaves in like an earthen pit with previously used agave fibers thrown over the top and maybe rocks, or maybe dirt over the top… Now when he says ‘steam cooked’, you know, how..? Is that going to be like what we’re used to, where it’s probably like a masonry oven with tequila? Or autoclaves? It’s probably not an autoclave.
MIKE: I’ve – well, that’s – again, the description’s a little bit misleading because, you know, steam cooked is traditionally an autoclave, I would assume. Now, I’m looking at their website also because we have minimal, point of sale material that was sent to us. It’s a long story how I got my samples but I had to go find the driver (laughing), and distributor from Houston to go get these, but anyway… I don’t even think that they’re telling us how exactly these are being processed. You know, I don’t have anything, any information. It’s telling me how they are being baked or cooked, all I can tell you is the information I have here says Artisanal, if that is the case, then I would say that they’re using a pit. Steam cooked, I’m not sure what that means, you know – to me those are two different things. But I didn’t write this, so you know, I’m going to go with artisanal, but I’m kind of anxious just to taste it.
RICK: And if it has that smokey accent, and they’re not using additives, then that would have to be the way that they’re baking the agave.
MIKE: Yeah, I would think so. I would think so. I’m using my Glencairn, which I’m really enjoying. This is a Canadian Whiskey-blending glass, and I find that for Mezcal it’s beautiful, because there’s enough mouth surface and nose area. And it kind of chimneys up! And if you’ve got a Mezcal that is going to sing to you…
RICK: I’m going to use my hand-blown snifter from –
MIKE: There you go, nothing wrong with that. When you’re talking about Mezcals, really there is no glassware. You know, last time I was using a clay copita. There were bubbles, did you notice your bubbles.
MIKE: Oh my gosh – I love bubbles! (smells glass) Wow! Oh, wow!
RICK: (shows bottle bubbles)
MIKE: There ya go, there ya go, there ya go.
MIKE: Oh my gosh. Oh, Rick. This is a much better nose.
MIKE: Wow, wow, wow! Hey, compare for the Blue Agave has more of a tamer nose. This is a much more fruitier forward nose, though.
MIKE: This is like another notch up here.
RICK: This would be more fruity and maybe flowery instead of the big herbal notes we were getting from the Blue Agave variety.
MIKE: Yes. Oh my gosh, wow. Wow. You know what’s amazing to me? Rick, is that we’re getting this much nose out of an 80 proof.
MIKE: I mean, I’m used to smelling this kind of a nose on a much higher proof mezcal.
RICK: Yeah or on like a really high quality tequila from one of the legendary distillers.
MIKE: Right, right. Wow this just comes right up to you and I can tell you from my experience, it’s more of a traditional Espadin nose, but it’s very fruity.
RICK: And with both of these so far I haven’t gotten any of the strong alcohol notes that you’ll sometimes get off of tequilas.
MIKE: Right, case in point last week, when we were doing Tragos Amargos. We were still getting that alcohol at the very bottom. We’re not getting any alcohol in these and these were still sealed until just now, a little while ago. Rare for me, because I normally dive right in.
RICK: Yeah, there was no need to let them oxidize or open up or anything. They’re ready to go.
MIKE: No, no, no. Yeah, that’s the other thing too. For some reason, I guess the mezcals in the way they’re produced if they’re artisanal or traditional, or in whatever stills other than industrial, they’re not as temperamental as tequila is, I’m finding. Other than, when they get to me they’re really hot; they’re warm, you know they’re in a box. But one or two days at room temp, I don’t need to like you said, you don’t need to open it up let it bloom, it sings to you right away. Oh my gosh. That’s beautiful man.
RICK: Oh a technical note, we’ve had a couple of drop outs on my end, so you might want to check that your camera’s still on.
MIKE: Yeah, my camera’s on as far as I can tell. So as far as, yeah, we’re good. As you can see, we’re at the mercy of Time Warner Cable.
MIKE: On both ends, unfortunately.
RICK: Yeah, we’re just biding our time until Google Fiber shows up.
MIKE: Wow, I got to dive in. This is beautiful, and there’s no smoke by the way.
MIKE: Okay. Now I’m getting a little bit more, really minerally. Great finish, especially on the back end. It explodes right in your, in the mid-palate.
RICK: Yeah, the entry’s smooth.
MIKE: Yeah, but on the retronasal –
RICK: Nice finish.
MIKE: But on the retronasal and as you, if you do you know, snap your palate you get everything all herbs, spices, minerals, mostly minerals is what I’m getting, minerals and herbaceousness. And I want to say that I’m getting some smoke, because I can taste it now…
RICK: I’m not finding it.
MIKE: …on my palate. It’s very minimal, and I’m not even sure if I can if what I’m tasting is smoke, you know, unless I know how they’re producing this like I say it’s a little confusing what they have on these cards but artisanal and then steam cooked – if he’s using an autoclave then that would explain the minimal if any smoke at all, but still I’m getting something. I’m getting something that’s reminiscent of smoke.
RICK: Yeah, you know maybe it’s because – It’s so big in its nose and flavor that well, as we were saying at the beginning of the video even after I had rinsed I was still tasting it. So you know, my palate could be blown out from the first one. Way to go (laughing).
MIKE: Might be, well you know, but then again, these are only 80 proof. So you know, they’re not as aggressive as what I’m used to having; you know I’m used to having them at above 40 ABV. You know, 45, we’ve had some of them came in at 45, we had one Montelobos was at 41 point something or other.
But these are 80 proof. but I got to tell ya this is beautiful. This is really something. Now I’ve had what we consider, we would call this a gateway mezcal and probably one of the first gateway mezcals ever. Because as you recall, Del Maguey came in at higher by volumes, and these folks are celebrating their 20th anniversary, Scorpion Mezcal. Happy birthday to them. And I would say that they would probably be the first gateway mezcals. But this is really beautiful. It’s much sweeter on the nose than I’ve had in the past with other espandins, except for one. And that was at a higher ABV, that one is at 45.
RICK: Yeah, you know, and if I were to try to compare what I’m finding here to like a tequila production process, I would say that it would be the kind of thing that would involve slow baking of the agaves. I would expect with this kind of profile, I would expect that it would be a longer fermentation process so that the yeasts have a chance to make more of the varied compounds.
MIKE: And if he’s shredding, however he’s shredding and fermenting, I’d say he’s probably using a lot of fiber. Because that’s what it tastes like, it tastes like you’re literally drinking the plant itself.
RICK: Yeah but I’m not getting hit with like methanols and like wood alcohol or anything like that, that you get with the more fibrous stuff. And if I were, again, using my experience in tequila I would say that for fermentation, you know I would say that they’re probably taking generous cuts off heads and tails because you’re not getting any of those off kind of chemical notes.
MIKE: Yeah, not having seen any video of Doug French doing the distillation himself, I’m not sure how he does it. You know, I’ve seen how other traditional or artisanal master distillers are doing it, and it’s a – there are no instruments!
MIKE: You know, this is all done by nose and taste, and looks, you know and years of experience. So I’m not sure how he’s doing it, but whatever he’s doing he’s doing it right.
MIKE: You know, the information on the website says it’s a dry bouquet; hints of lime, citrus, cucumber, salt, which I would say maybe brine, and savory herbs. And it is herbaceous, I will say that.
MIKE: And the taste is dry to sweet. Again, lime, citrus, it says leather and dry smoke. So there is some smoke in there. I wouldn’t say leathery, because I, personally I don’t get leather until I start delving into reposados and anejos myself. But they’re calling it that. And almost tannic is what it says here on the flavor notes. But I really like it. You know what? It has a less heavy mouth feel than the Blue Agave version.
MIKE: Did you notice that?
RICK: Yeah, and it leans more towards fruit than herbs.
MIKE: Right. And as you said, very succinctly, with the Blue Agave,
is that it’s like a lowlands tequila you know with a lot of minerals. It’s almost like, in fact, lowlands or I would say even tequila from Amatitan which has lots of minerals in it. But this is way more refreshing, is what I’ll say.
MIKE: And really different, the mouth feel is way different; it doesn’t weigh heavy on your palate, it explodes on your palate. It’s kind of more of what I’m used to having. Excuse me, and beautiful nose. This is again, one of those where you don’t need to do much with it. Just be with it. Wow. I got to say, again Rick, Brand of Promise in the Legacy category.
MIKE: They’ve been around 20 years. I would say, do yourself a favor, you know, you’ve seen the other Mezcals out there that – but this one here, they’ve been around as long. Scorpion Mezcal. Now, they’re called Scorpion because their full bottles do have a scorpion in it. Yeah it’s kitchy.
RICK: HA! Put it right up there.
MIKE: Yeah! See? There it is, because everybody knows that worms are for wimps, right?. (laughing)
RICK: Are you seeing it at all?
MIKE: Yeah! We can see it! It’s there! You know, and I’d rather have a scorpion in it than a worm, myself, but tell I’ll ya what – with or without, these are really, really good. I am so jazzed that we are finally getting them on Sipping Off the Cuff after 20 years. It took us that long, to get these guys on.
RICK: Yeah. I’m thoroughly enjoying this.
MIKE: How do you like it so far?
RICK: I’m loving it! I’m loving it!
MIKE: Oh my god. (laughing) It’s alive! It’s alive! We created a monster.
MIKE: Okay. Well, Rick, that’s our take on Scorpion Espadin. We’ll be back a little bit later with two more varietals. I’m Mike Morales here in San Antonio.
RICK: Rick Levi in San Diego.
MIKE: You’ve been watching Sipping Off the Cuff, on TequilaAficionado.com also part of Tequila Aficionado Media. Please subscribe! And tell us what you like, because if you’ve had longer than Rick and myself, tell us, you know, what your favorites are. Give us some comments, but whatever you do, do what we tell you to do here at Tequila Aficionado, and tomar sabiamente (sip wisely).