Mezcal is Mexico’s “other” spirit, the armangac to Tequila’s cognac.
Generally a little rougher around the edges, and often quite a bit smokier than tequilas, mezcal is generally produced in the Oaxaca region of Mexico. Most Americans’ experiences with mezcal have been with rotgut bottles of no-name mezcal exhorting them to “drink the worm,” followed by recollections of the worst hangovers in their life. Unfortunately, this often leads people to dismiss the entire category of mezcal, making it even harder to introduce consumers to the joys of quality mezcal.
With high-quality mezcal, the spirit is taken in one of two directions. There’s the traditional, artisan mezcal, where the hearts of agave (known as pinas) are roasted in the ground, imbuing them with a distinct smoky note very reminiscent of the peatiest single malt scotches. Then there’s the new, modern mescal, which is made in state-of-the-art distilleries to showcase the sweetness, richness, and overall depth of the actual agave from which mezcal is distilled. Zignum Mezcal is the leader in taking mezcal production into the modern age, and it really showcases the flavors inherent in the agave itself.
While tequila is also a distillate of the agave plant, tequila producers are limited to using one variety of agave—the Weber blue agave—in their production. By contrast, mezcal producers have over 30 varieties of agave they may choose to distill from, including some wild varieties that are not commercially cultivated. While the variety of agaves allowed was at first a result of small producers being able to use whatever was available, it now allows top producers to showcase the various flavors inherent in each varietal.
Zignum Silver is made from 100% green espadin agave. (Zignum also produces a reposado, or “rested” mezcal that has spent up to nine months in barrel, and an anejo or “aged” mezcal that spends at least 12 months in barrel.) On the nose, Zignum Silver displays notes of exotic fruits, white pepper, straw, and agave sugars. These flavors follow through on the palate. Zignum Silver is an easy mixer and can substitute for tequila in any recipe, especially margaritas. It exhibits similar characteristics to the best artisan white rums and tequilas while maintaining its unique character.
For those wanting to explore the world of mezcal, or anyone looking to add an extra dimension of flavor to their margaritas, Zignum Silver is an excellent choice.
Disclosure: I received a sample of this product from Zignum for review. No other compensation from Zignum was received.