Review – Enmascarado Mezcal
From the same people behind the Ven A Mi Mezcales come this partnership of two spirits. Both spirits are produced from Agave of the Espadin variety that are harvested at between 7-10yrs of age. The pinas are roasted in an earth oven before being crushed by a horse-drawn mill and the liquid transferred to wooden vats for the fermentation to commence. This is followed by double copper-still distillation. The brand maintains that the spirits are the same except for the 54.8% abv version being bottled at the same proof that the liquid comes off the still whereas it’s lighter sibling has been watered down to bottling strength.
45.1% abv (2011)
Nose: This Mezcal offers a somewhat unrefined nose with hints of marmite, turpentine, red grapefruit zest, and wood polish. The smoke is moderately dry in nature and sits in balance with the rest of the aromas.
Neat: It turns out that this Mezcal has kept all the good stuff for the palate. Whilst the nose is interesting, it gives no hint at the huge flavour that greets the tongue. A sweet salty entrance progresses to a slightly tangy mid-palate with plenty of caramel and vanilla. It has the mouthfeel of caramel as well, and this is a real strength of this Mezcal. The smoke is in exquisite balance with the rest of the flavours, and feels so well integrated it is as though it was the flavour of the agave itself. The lingering finish loses nothing of the bold flavours and even offers a bit of spice, earth and barbecued banana to ensure there is a surprise around every corner.
54.8% abv (2010)
Neat: If the 45% flavour is huge, this is gigantic. The barrel-strength abv is incredibly smooth, with only a pleasant tongue tingle indicating caution should be exercised. As with the nose, the smoke is more restrained than is sibling and this highlights a more floral, vegetal and citrus character. The deep notes of very ripe papaya and pineapple mix with salty coconut and a waxy note reminiscent of juniper. This is an extraordinary Mezcal.
Mixing: The interesting feature of these two Mezcales is that the higher abv sibling is not simply a boozier version of the other. Whilst they share several family characteristics, they are clearly independent products and as such contribute different things to cocktails. As with many spirits, the 54% is better suited to citrus-based cocktails such as the Lupita as the higher abv helps carry the Mezcal’s flavour through, and in this case the more restrained smoke element is of benefit in this fruity libation. Perhaps the best way to show off the variation between this products is simply served with tonic water and a wedge of lime. The 54% offers up a huge agave flavour with a healthy (and in fact quite enjoyable) does of petrol to give away the fact that this is a Mezcal and not a tequila. The 45% by contrast is smokier, sweeter and perhaps a bit too intense for many. Sub the tonic for ginger beer however, and it’s smiles all round. Similarly the 45% performs well in shorter, stronger drinks in which the other ingredients stand up to the more prominent smoky profile. Whether this be a Jalisco Espresso to tempt you away from the ever-present Espresso Martini, or a Jacko’s End if you prefer a more honeyed and botanical-led taste. There is no getting away from the fact that these Mezcales are not appropriate for those who want their cocktails to be easy-drinking and neutral-tasting, but those who are prepared to experiment will be rewarded with some bold, punchy, and complex flavours flavours.
Enmascarado Mezcale’s offer a fascinating insight into the effect of abv on flavour profiles. Whilst they share the common family trait of being exceptionally high quality, they each have fascinating individual nuances that merits exploration of both.
Enmascarado Mezcal is available to buy from Master of Malt.
★: Terrible, only drink for a dare.
★★: Meh, not undrinkable but best left alone.
★★★: Reasonable, middle of the road.
★★★★: Tasty stuff, well worth seeking out.
★★★★★: Incredible, booze doesn’t get better than this. You need a bottle in your life.