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Ilegal Mezcal reposado – 40% ABV
Overall rating: 4/5
In a nutshell: A smooth mezcal with a subtle aroma reminiscent of straw on a summer’s day. The flavour is intense but mellows in the mouth, with sweetness, spice and warmth on the finish. It would pair well with a cheeseboard of Mexican or Spanish cheese.
Full review of Ilegal Mezcal reposado
Reposado – or ‘rested’ – mezcals are aged in barrels for two to 12 months. They usually colour slightly, depending on the barrel they’re aged in and for how long they rest. This reposado mezcal has a straw-coloured tinge to it, more like a white wine than a spirit.
Ilegal was started by John Rexer, who owned a bar in Antigua, Guatemala. After travelling in Oaxaca, he discovered mezcal, began importing it to sell in his bar, and in 2006, made his unofficial smuggling operation legal – hence the name Ilegal.
The company uses 100% espadin agave and produces joven, reposado and aňejo mezcals. The reposado mezcal is aged for four months in medium-charred American oak barrels, producing a smooth spirit with a subtle, straw-like aroma. There are hints of citrus, too, and a slight candy sweetness, creating a very fresh and gentle scent.
On the palate, the aromas turn into strong tastes – a vanilla sweetness blends nicely with the citrus, a hint of spice, and an earthy flavour. The alcohol comes through more and creates a much warmer taste, with mouth heat right from the start.
The mezcal then mellows in your mouth for a finish that is sweet and smooth. It’s a spirit that’s also crying out for a food pairing. Lacking any Mexican cheese, it went extremely well with some mature cheddar.
The perfect pour
The Masa + Mezcal Mexican cantina in Bristol uses Ilegal Reposado in place of gin in its take on a negroni, called a ‘mezgroni’.
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