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Del Maguey Chichicapa – 46% ABV
Overall rating: 4.5/5
In a nutshell: A complex mezcal from one of the biggest brands in the business. It’s smoky and earthy, and although the aroma is initially neutral, it develops into spicy, peppery flavours, a little like chipotle.
Full review of Del Maguey Chichicapa
You can’t go far in the world of mezcal without coming across the name of Del Maguey (a maguey is an agave plant and is pronounced ma-gay). The company was founded in 1995 by an American artist named Ron Cooper, who had been travelling in Mexico and discovered mezcal.
His epiphany came after a trip to Mexico when he tried to take five gallons of special mezcal across the border into Texas, only to have it confiscated and poured onto the ground by the Border Patrol. He decided to go legal, and let the USA know what it was missing.
Del Maguey is now one of the biggest exporters of mezcal, and is particularly well-known in the USA, but some of their mezcals are now available in the UK, too. They all come in distinctive green bottles.
The idea behind Del Maguey was that each mezcal would be named after the town or village where it was made, so this one is from the town of San Balthazar Chichicapa, in Oaxaca.
This mezcal is made from 100% espadin agave, the most common kind, harvested when they were 7-8 years old.
They’re cooked for 4-5 days in the traditional earth pit using a mix of woods, including eucalyptus, ocote (a type of pine tree), and sabino, the national tree of Mexico. The choice of wood used for cooking the agave is an important decision, as this strongly affects the flavour of the mezcal.
Initially, the aroma is quite clean, almost neutral, but a vegetal earthiness starts to come through, along with a balancing sweetness. If you could smell warmth, then this Chichicapa mezcal smells warm and comforting.
On the palate, the 46% alcohol comes through immediately, with a slight, but not unpleasant, bitterness to it. The earthiness is also there in the taste, and there’s a spicy pepperiness to it as well, a little like chipotle; the smoke-dried chilli pepper used a lot in Mexican cooking. There’s a hint of vanilla-like sweetness and a grassy, herbal aftertaste, and a definite tingle as it goes down. All in all, it’s a delightfully complex mezcal.
The perfect pour
As with lots of mezcals, we recommend using it in place of tequila in a classic margarita.
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