MIKE: HI, I’m Mike Morales you’re watching Sipping Off the Cuff on Tequila Aficionado, a part of Tequila Aficionado Media. I’m here in San Antonio and that gentleman over there is…
RICK: Rick Levy in San Diego.
MIKE: (laughing) Rick. Tonight, I’m so excited. We have been trying for 20 years almost, to get these folks on Sipping Off the Cuff. Tonight we’re going to go through a whole variety of Scorpion Mezcal. Look at that!
MIKE: Yeah, these are specifically 200 ml. It’s nice. These are probably the smallest samples that we’ll actually accept here at Tequila Aficionado because we’ve had them smaller and you know how they get corrupted.
RICK: They get corrupted in shipment.
MIKE: When you talk about mezcal though, this, depending on the plant, some of these are really hard to get full bottle samples of because they’re so small batch. And tonight on your request, and your recommendation, we’re going to start to do something different. This is Scorpion Mezcal’s Blue Agave Mezcal, okay? That means it comes from blue agave and it’s from Oaxaca. So as you can see I have not opened mine yet, but… I’m just going to preface this by telling you that Rick is not as well versed on mezcals yet. He’s just –
RICK: Mike is teaching me tonight. I’ve had a couple mezcals. The first one I had really kind of turned me off. (laughing)
MIKE: Oh really! Oh! Was that the one with the worm in it?
RICK: I was turned off by the smokiness; and you know, it was a very smokey mezcal. And so I kind of shied away for a while but then more recently I’ve been interested in dipping my toes back into the other species of agave. So…
MIKE: Well, you’re going to find that first of all that when we look at Scorpion, you know Alex and I, and really Tequila Aficionado and a lot of us, have a term that we use called gateway tequilas or gateway mezcals. Mezcals are traditionally over 40 ABV or over 80 proof. By and large, chances are you’ve had the real smokey, over 80 proof sometimes they’re 45 ABV. This one, Scorpion, I guess all of their line, from what I can tell, is at 80 proof. So they were really one of the first ones to come out as a gateway mezcal. As a matter of fact, I should probably tell everybody that Scorpion is celebrating their 20th anniversary this coming year. So they’ve got a couple of special things planned for their marketing and their roll outs. I think beginning September they’re going to be doing some really special things.
So we are very fortunate to have these guys on. Because Alex and I and a lot of you out there probably had Del Maguey, which is the standard for mezcal; that bar is way up here. But unbeknownst to a lot of people, Scorpion Mezcal came out like around 2 years after them. And I think it’s Doug French and Barbara Sweetman who are partners, and have been for that long. So I was kind of surprised I really have only had 1 of their mezcals in all the years that they’ve been around, 17 years, which was really odd. And when I told Barbara she said what are you kidding? You haven’t had, you really haven’t had any of our line? I said only that one time in Vegas where she served me. So she was nice enough to put these together for you and me.
RICK: And what I really love about this is we’re doing the – is blanco the correct term or silver?
MIKE: It’s called, anything that’s unaged is considered a joven when you talk about mezcals.
RICK: Alright, so they sent us this great box of four jovens featuring different species of agave. And the nerd in me is really loving that because it’ll be great for comparing and contrasting.
MIKE: A lot of people who are going to experiment and don’t have the expertise or haven’t had the chance to experiment with all the other ones. This is neat for you because you can, you know, those of us who have started with mezcals have started with Espadin, but now with so many varietals out there, based on so many different plants, which I don’t have the plants, you do.
RICK: Yeah –
MIKE: Here they are, they’re right there. There they are. You know, you get to pick and choose which ones are your favorites. Now I will tell you that there is no specific glassware for mezcal. So you can use a Riedel, or as our friend –
RICK: (shows glassware)
MIKE: Yeah. Our friend Ron Cooper likes to use clay copitas. Our friends at Gracias a Dios Mezcal gave us little clay cups.
RICK: That is the more traditional ware to use right? Earthenware?
MIKE: Earthenware or you can use xicaras. You can use gourds. These come from Sombra Mezcal and this big one here comes from our friends at Mestizo Mezcal. So whatever you feel comfortable using to begin with. I, you know, I think it’s so cool to use this because you’d think that this would add a layer of complexity – it doesn’t. It really does not get in the way, and it’s more traditional. You’ve seen pictures of the distillers, you know, and they’re pouring it into this gourd, right? And there’s nothing but bubbles and pearls and stuff. And so it’s kind of neat to be a little bit more traditional.
So we’re going to start tonight with the Blue Agave. This is their Blue Agave Varietal, I just now popped this open. So we’re going to – I’m going to pour a little bit. And it doesn’t take a whole lot. I’m going to pour some into my gourd here. And yeah, actually Rick, a cup or a snifter – good move, as well. (smells it) Oh wow.
MIKE: That’s really aromatic. It’s really different from a tequila though, isn’t it?
RICK: Yeah. It is.
MIKE: It’s stronger, the nose on it.
RICK: It’s very herbal, it’s like a lowlands on crack or something.
MIKE: On steroids man! (laughing) Well you know, again, these are Blue Agaves from Oaxaca. Again, another terroir, different elevation, depending on the region of Oaxaca. It’s the hand of the distiller as well is always different, so it’s a lovely nose but it’s not what you’d expect; if you’re expecting it to smell like a tequila it’s not going to.
RICK: Very nice though.
MIKE: Yeah, it’s really… You’re right – it’s herbal in this case. Oh my. Oh, whoa. Now there is a smokiness there.
RICK: Yeah, it’s certainly not as smokey as the Del Maguey that I had.
MIKE: Yeah, and Del Maguey is really very, very traditional, artisanal, and will be at a much higher ABV. Let me see if there’s – do we have…? We were lucky that – there we go. Tequiliana Weber Agave. So the notes that we’re getting here, see they were nice enough to send us this information. Here’s what we’re looking at: it’s coming out of Las Salinas, Oaxaca, date of harvest May 2001-Aug 2007. The master distiller is Douglass French, he’s calling himself the mas– so he distilled these in copper pot stills and in November of 2007. It is considered artisanal, which there are new designations for mezcal now; industrial, artisanal, traditional…
RICK: (sneezes)Excuse me.
MIKE: Hey, gesundheit! Yeah, you know that – and it does – it gets right up into your sinuses. This was produced in San Agustin de las Juntas, Oaxaca. So this is where the origin of the agave comes from, and he’s also telling you where it was distilled. So again, the agave’s coming from one area, the distillation’s happening in another area.
What are we getting? What are you getting, Rick, on this? And this is again, a 40 ABV, so it’s only 80 proof. I’m getting a lot of Earth, a lot of minerals.
RICK: Mm hmm, yeah mineral, herbs. There’s a little bit of underlying sweetness to it.
MIKE: Yes! The Blue Agave sweetness. I’m going to try some in a clay copita here.Oh yeah. I would say very minimal smoke, if anything.
RICK: It’s, yeah, it’s not – it doesn’t call a lot of attention to itself.
MIKE: No, no it doesn’t. It is really much more nose. You know, for a mezcal, for a gateway mezcal, this really goes down very nicely. You know it doesn’t have that long mezcal finish, because traditionally you’ll get a warm and fuzzy that’ll goes all the way down, you know, and it comes right back up on you. This does not have that.
RICK: Yeah, I’m – coming from tequila. I’m really enjoying this.
RICK: It has a lot of character.
MIKE: Um, let’s see, this is the most famous agave. It is generally used to make tequila. I’m just reading some of the information on the back of this card.
RICK: Yeah. Now they say it’s not commonly grown, the blue weber agave’s not commonly grown in Oaxaca, that usually it’s only grown in Oaxaca at the request of tequila companies who want it for producing tequila.
MIKE: That’s interesting.
RICK: Yeah, that’s not kosher, right? Well, I can’t say kosher because kosher’s something different.
MIKE: Well, you know, let’s put it this way – after 20 years if Douglas French is telling you that, you know, that someone has been asked to grow this for tequila companies, what he’s telling you is the truth. You’ve got to read between the lines when you read stuff like this because tequila companies by and large, there have been rumors for years. Every time there’s an agave shortage, there’s rumors of trucks bringing in espadin, right? And mixing it in with blue agave. We don’t know who – we have a pretty good idea who may have been using it, but we’re never going to be able to prove it. You know what I mean? It’s all hearsay and speculation, and tequila companies will never – the big boys – will never admit to it. But you know, I’ve talked to Ron Cooper who has been adamant about seeing trucks that belong to tequila companies leaving Oaxaca, full of espadin. So that’s not, if that’s not someone telling you the truth then I don’t know what is, you know.
But the neat thing is that they have taken this plant and decided to make it a mezcal. More, and this may be, Rick, what it originally was supposed to have turned into, or supposed to have been like. And what I’m enjoying here is that it’s fruity, but more herbal I think. I’m getting a lot of herbal and a lot of terroir, a lot of the Earth, and you’re right – it’s almost like a lowlands but really more flavorful. And I don’t know, I think that’s the method of distillation probably. You know, it could be that, or where it was grown, that kind of thing.
RICK: And so, the process with this, would it still be a double distillation process?
MIKE: Yes. Yeah, these are –
RICK: And it’s probably all copper pot for both distillations.
MIKE: Yeah, I, you know, having seen some of the more traditional and artisanal methods, they – you know, you’re out in the middle of nowhere so if you have copper, that’s what you’re going to get. Two times copper. You know, if you have anything more artisanal like clay for instance, you’re going to get two times clay. I mean, that’s just – there’s no luxury of going from copper to stainless steel, or from clay to copper. It doesn’t happen. Unless you’re an industrial mezcal, then you have that where withal but when you’re looking at brands like Scorpion, or Del Maguey.
RICK: Much smaller basis.
MIKE: Yeah. I mean look how small this batch is, I mean, and this bottle is completely full. And it’s a beautiful color, I mean you can see what you’re getting, it’s pristine. And Rick, when you poured yours in your glass, did you see bubbles?
RICK: I didn’t look.
RICK: It’s a hand blown glass so it already had bubbles.
MIKE: Yeah, see because, you know, that’s usually a dead giveaway; las perlas that you see.
RICK: But this is so good, I’ll pour it a second pour into a Riedel.
MIKE: Well, let’s do this. Let’s check it out.
RICK: (pours glass)
MIKE: Oh my! And it just lingers like shampoo, man. That’s just beautiful.
RICK: It really is beautiful and you know, in terms of the nose I wish I had a better vocabulary to describe it but you know, when we’re examining tequilas, we’re like working and we’re pulling out things and we’re really only working on… It seems like we’re really only working on a couple of axis with the nose with tequila. But with this I think you know, it’s much more three dimensional in terms of the nose that you’re getting. It’s just, it’s huge and it’s lovely. You could, you know, spend the whole night just with your nose in the glass.
MIKE: Yeah, and it’s not overpowering too, which I really enjoy. I know that in the past I’ve said that I really like tequilas at higher ABVs or lower ABVs, and mezcals, traditionally I really love them at higher. We’ve had them at 41, 45, 48, you know, which is a really traditional smokey, you know the smokiness really comes out. But when you’re looking at something as lovely as this, this is really lovely. I’ve got to tell you this is the first time I’ve had – it’s the second time I’ve had a mezcal made from blue agave, because I’ve had Vida, which is the brand from Del Maguey. But this one is really just the nose on this is beautiful! And even in clay, because you’d think the clay would add an extra layer – it really doesn’t get in the way. Neither does the gourd, but the gourd doesn’t do anything. It cracks is all it does.
RICK: Well, with a greater surface area and more exposed to the air, I wonder if that would have an effect at least on the nose. If not, the alcohol content.
MIKE: Yeah, you know, it’s funny because for some mezcals I’ll use this Glencairn and this is – from what Marty Duffy of Glencairn, Glencairn rep for the US, has told us this is a… I guess it’s a Canadian Whiskey glass. And honestly for a mezcal it’s beautiful because mezcal is going to come up and talk to you, regardless of what glassware you use, it’s really not important. But if you’re going to experiment and really try to draw some stuff out, this glass is one of my favorites for mezcal, it really is. Because it doesn’t take much. But anyway, that’s our take.
(temporary cut out in Skype)
MIKE: You’re back!
MIKE: You disappeared there for a little bit.
RICK: I think you might need to turn your camera back on as well.
MIKE: I think, I think I do. Hang on a second here. Let me, yep! There I am. Okay!
RICK: Well, and here we are Tequila Aficionado talking ancient liquors in a digital age.
MIKE: See? That’s what happens when you deal with this old stuff. You know? But I’ve got to tell you, what do you think? How do you like it?
RICK: I love it. I love it. I love it.
MIKE: It’s beautiful.
MIKE: Yeah. Wow. I’ve got to say, I know that Scorpion is coming up with their 20th anniversary, they’re actually going to come out with a series, I don’t even know if they’ve – let’s just say it’s a big surprise. You’re not expecting it. But, I’m not even going to tell you what they’re coming out with. We’re hoping to get some samples here for Tequila Aficionado. But I’ve got to tell you, if you’ve not spent some time with their Blue Agave Mezcal from Scorpion the joven, really do yourself a favor. Honestly if you really want to know what maybe what tequila might have been like in the old days as a throwback, this might be the one that you want to spend some time with.
MIKE: I think it’s beautiful; Brand of Promise, why not, in the Legacy category.
RICK: And this is a – being primarily a tequila guy, not having a lot of experience with mezcal, this is definitely an easy way in.
MIKE: There you go. That’s our take on Scorpion Mezcal Blue Agave. If you can, you really should find these, it’s well worth looking for. But stay with us, because in our next go around, we’re going to go through this whole 4-pack of samples and we’re going to see what we can draw from it. Yeah, because now Rick is chomping at the bit.
MIKE: Anyway I’m Mike Morales here in San Antonio.
RICK: Rick Levy in San Diego.
MIKE: And you’ve been watching Sipping Off the Cuff. This has been Scorpion Mezcal, this is the Blue Agave version. If you like what you saw please subscribe down below. If you’re watching us on a Youtube Channel, do it anyway, it’ll make you feel better. And as we like to say, tomar sabiamente (sip wisely).