The spirit has an intense smokiness. It’s the master of giving a sultry makeover to margaritas and negronis; counterbalancing a tart punch; or acting as a savory substitute in a Bloody Mary, as it perfectly complements crispy bacon.
But just like a good bourbon, mezcal deserves to be sipped on its own, too. Admittedly, some not-so-good bottles might taste like someone added liquid smoke to your tequila. But the very best ones are expertly accented with smoke, and have robust tasting notes that range from floral and herbaceous to fruity and tart to rich and complex, with notes of leather and cacao.
Because the spirit can be made from more than 30 types of agave, you can really get a sense of its terroir. Unlike, say, bourbon, that ages in a cask to get its flavor, mezcal is more of an expression of the land it comes from, with the agave plants sometimes taking more than a decade to mature.
“I’ve had mezcals made from agaves grown near jalapeño crops that are shockingly spicy, and mezcals distilled from agaves that grew in rocky mountains overlooking the ocean that taste briny and minerally,” he says.
Whether you’re a newcomer to mezcal or an agave-loving enthusiast, here are the seven best bottles to try.
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