Blow the Budget, October 2021: Tequila at Mezcalito (London)
Once a month a member of The Cabinet is given a budget to blow on something drink related, and then to report back.
This month’s budget has been blown by two unexperienced and unqualified tequila enthusiasts. These now self-proclaimed ‘catadores’ (tequila tasters), will take you through a tasting review of six different tequilas, two mezcals and one cocktail, as well as sharing invaluable facts about tequila that you didn’t know you needed.
The night started and ended at Mezcalito, a Tequila and Mezcal Bar in central London, where hundreds of different types of tequila were housed. Before tasting began, it was important to understand the basics. Having gone in as novices, we asked the waiter to explain to us the different types of tequila.
Lesson 1 – what is tequila?
Tequila is a traditional Mexican distilled spirit which is made from a specific type of Agave plant. More specifically, the Blue Agave.
Mezcal is made from any variety of Agave, meaning tequila is a type of Mezcal.
Lesson 2 – what are the different types of tequila?
Tequila Blanco – this is an unaged tequila with a primarily agave taste, with citrusy notes, ending with some spicy tones.
Tequila Reposado – meaning ‘rested’ in English, reposado tequila is aged for 2-12 months in oak barrels. It has a smooth oaky and caramel flavour.
Tequila Añejo – this tequila is aged for 1-4 years in oak barrels. It has a richer taste and subtle tones of vanilla and cinnamon.
Tequila Joven – is a mix of aged and unaged tequila.
Lesson 3 – El Valle (Lowlands) vs Los Altos (Highlands)
Within the 4 types of tequila there are two categories – Lowland and Highland.
Lowland is much more herbal and vegetal.
Highland agaves grow in much richer clay soil, making the tequila sweeter with a fruitier taste. The highlands region has better water supply and the agaves grown there have an earthier flavour.
The following ratings are not given on quality, but on how enjoyable each drink/shot was.
We eased ourselves in slowly with a Mexican Espresso Martini, made with 1800 brand reposado tequila, home brewed Mexican coffee, cinnamon syrup and kalhua. To be completely honest, it tasted exactly the same as a regular Espresso Martini, however it was a lot stronger, and for that we rated it a 9/10.
We thought it was only right that we should follow what we had learnt from our brief masterclass and try each type of tequila, one from the Lowlands and one from the Highlands, as well as two types of Mezcal.
Type - Tequila Blanco
1 - El Valle (Lowlands) – Arette Silver
A twice distilled tequila from the brand Arette, which is produced from 100% estate grown Blue Weber and volcanic spring water. To the nose it is clean, soft and sweet, with a few citrusy tones. The Lowland terrain gives it a light vegetal taste, with a crisp and non-harsh finish. Overall, quite enjoyable and significantly nicer than any shot you would get at a nightclub bar. 8/10.
2 – Los Altos (Highlands)– 1800 (Silver)
This tequila is produced from 8–12-year aged Weber Agave, which is then double distilled and blended with a selection of white tequilas. There is an added complexity and character, giving it a smoother and more interesting flavour than other tequilas. To the nose it is rich and fruity, however the finish is light and floral.
Probably the best tequila we had ever tasted, enjoyable to drink and definitely should be sipped instead of shotted in order to appreciate the taste. 9.5/10.
Type – Tequila Reposado
3- El Valle (Lowlands) – Arette
A tequila aged for 4-6 months in white oak barrels. It possessed a salty herbal scent, giving way to a vegetal aftertaste of pepper and vanilla. It was nice enough to sip and had almost no aftertaste thanks to the lemon slice which came with it. The only downside was how much it stung your lips each time you sipped it. In retrospect, shotting it was probably a better idea. 8.5/10.
4- Los Altos (Highlands) – 1800
Aged for no less than 6 months in American and French oak barrels, this tequila smelt rich from the Highland soil. It refreshed the palate with a buttery caramel taste, but despite this, it was quite bitter and hurt the insides of our mouths. Because of this, we were surprised when we found out that this reposado is commonly used to make Mexican Espresso Martinis, which tasted delicious in comparison. 6.5/10.
Type – Tequila Añejo
5- El Valle (Lowlands) – Próspero
This tequila is produced in the Lowlands of Jalisco and is aged for a minimum of 12 months in oak barrels. It was served in mini wine glass shaped shot glasses, which made the tequila more appealing to sip instead of shot. Compared to the other tequilas we had tried, it was yellow in colour which made more sense as we discovered that its primary flavours are toasted caramel, cacao and roasted fruits with hints of spice. The aftertaste was more unpleasant than the actual shot as it lingered and burnt our mouths. 5/10.
6- Los Altos (Highlands) – Corazon
Aged in Oak barrels for 16 -24 months, this tequila gives off buttery and vanilla flavours, whilst at the same time capturing the essence of the oak barrels. Also yellow in colour and served in the same type of glass as the Próspero, this shot was initially bitter in the mouth, which then gave way to strong hints of almonds and spices. The experience was quite overpowering and left us speechless (not in a good way). 6/10.
Type - Mezcal
1- Koch el Mezcal - Espadín
This mezcal is unaged and bottled at 47% ABV and is made from the Espadín agave. Served with a slice of orange covered in chili flakes (as opposed to a lemon slice), this Mezcal did not have an overwhelming taste. However, it was strong to the nose and had a dry aftertaste. This aftertaste was not softened by the chili orange, which made the shot much worse, as it added to the burn. It should never (in our opinion) be sipped, only shotted, as it was significantly less enjoyable than any of the other tequilas so far. 4/10.
2- Ojo de Tigre - Espadín & Tobola
This tequila is a mix of Espadín and the less well-known and harder to harvest Tobola. The combination of the agaves and how they are cooked and fermented, gives the Mezcal a smoky flavour and some subtle citrusy notes. Although not as bad as the Koch el Mezcal, it wasn’t great. We also learnt from our previous mistakes and avoided the chili orange, making the experience somewhat more manageable, but still not enjoyable. 5/10.
A cocktail and 8 shots down each, it was time to leave.