Candle wax drips in cascades as their lights flicker across the leather chesterfields. Dr. Ivan Saldana strides to the centre of The Curtain‘s basement member’s club, behind him an enormous lupine emblem, on either side matte black cocktail shakers and new expressions of the immensely popular Montelobos Mezcal.
One of the first big names in mezcal in the UK, Montelobos capitalised on the agave boom very early, becoming a recognisable presence on the back bar and in a Mezcal Old Fashioned.
Dr. Saldana’s academic background in botany has been invaluable to the mezcal’s inception, and will continue to be as agave varieties face deforestation in Mexico.
Montelobos combats this by harvesting rarer agave varietals like tobala and cupreata – notoriously difficult to cultivate, and thus varietals that face the most danger in the face of the ‘premium’ agave spirit market.
In an industry where ‘sustainability’ has becomes a buzzword to be thrown around at various trade shows, we see it in action at the Montelobos estate.
We raise the first classic Montelobos mezcal – the Espadin.
Clear crystal, the Espadin is a classic. The nose reveals sugary sweetness at the bottom of an espresso cup, before green peppers and asparagus burst from under the coffee grounds and sugar crystals. Petrichor and light sprays of citrus.
The palate isn’t far off – cooked and fresh agave, light funky fruit and some roasted nuts, a clean herbacity and mangos with a smoky cocoa. Wonderfully complex without sacrificing balance – perfect for cocktails.
The Ensamble is the gorgeous expression that separates the agave lovers from the rest. This beautiful spirit mixes Papalote, Espadin and Tobala agaves for a surprising blend.
A deceptive nose of roasted agave and nectar dripping over hot rocks and citrus masks a palate of capers and cheese, before a spicy hit of nutmeg and minerality, a chalkiness, before a peppery vinegar and grape skin. A wonderful combo recommended for brandy and eau de vie lovers.
Those who know the Hoodooist know he loves a Tobala. Once again, a deceptive nose – bright with citrus and pepper, one has to look at the tail end of spices to know where we’re going. The palate is full – sweet and oily. Smoky, almost peaty but not quite, the mezcal gives way too bright green herbs, like basil. But soon, caramel and roasted fruits like figs and nuts, making it almost reminiscent of sherried scotches (for those unacquainted with mezcals). This smoothness has the earthy funk of truffle, muscovado sugar and liquorice to finish on. A gorgeous, sweet/smoky combo.
Finally, a mezcal to wake the dead: The Pechuga. This Espadin based Pechuga carries the same characteristic of any other pechugas: distilled with spices and poultry – except the usual chicken breast is swapped out for kosher turkey breast, hanging over the distilling spirit.
With the Day of the Dead coming soon, the Hoodooist had to grab himself some, in keeping with Oaxaca tradition to serve pechuga for libations.
Orange peel and nutmeg greets the nose, the mouthfilling palate is awash with tropical fruit, papaya, honeydew melon, as well as floral hibiscus and roasted almonds, before the autumnal flavours of squash and maple. What a superb spirit.
Ivan has done an incredible job overseeing a collection of varied and environmentally responsible joven mezcals with Montelobos. The varied collection of flavours across the 4 mezcals provides a wide range of experience across a carefully selected ensamble of spirits.
When you’re ready to climb onto the next rung of your mezcal studies, consider the guilt-free smoky delights of Casa Montelobos.
The Curtain Shoreditch