Montelobos Mezcal Tasting @ The Curtain

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.

Thanks to,

Montelobos Mezcal

http://montelobos.com/

and,

The Curtain Shoreditch

https://thecurtain.com

London Mezcal Week 2017!

A Celebration of Mezcal, Mexican Culture, Art & Food
11th – 17th September 2017
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Okay, so you *KNOW* this is gonna the best week for agavephiles, and a great excuse to get your friends who’re still scared of mezcal into the game.

Taking place from Monday 11th to Sunday 17th September across London, the first official London Mezcal Week will be a series of events in London that celebrate Mezcal, Mexican culture, art and food, ending with a two-day tasting festival and Mexico Independence Day celebration.

Food

Organised by two of London’s most exciting Mezcal enthusiasts, Thea Cumming and Melanie Symonds, the founders of Dangerous Don and Quiquiriqui Mezcals respectively, the series of events will be produced by Lucie Massey, who organises the sell-out pop-up series Slap Ya Papa. Together, the trio hope to provide a platform for all kinds of people to explore the culture of traditional Mezcal production, as well as taking a closer look at Mexican art, film and food.

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Throughout the week, a series of social events in venues across the city will champion the diverse creativity of Mexico as well as the magical story of the agave plant, from which Mezcal is made. From art exhibitions and panel discussions, to the creation of a Mexican mural, mezcal masterclasses and food pairings, each event will uncover
the fascinating world of Mezcal and its place in Mexican culture.

Tacos 2

The series of events are as follows:
Monday – A Mezcal Pairing Dinner with Edson Diaz-Fuentes, at his restaurant Santo Remedio

Tuesday – Mezcal sampler with Mezcal Master Jon Anders at Santo restaurant

Wednesday – Panel Discussion “The Future of Mezcal” and Blind Tasting at The Bloomsbury Club Bar
Wednesday – Coffee, Chocolate & Mezcal tasting at Wahaca, Charlotte Street

Thursday – Bartender’s Brunch at Café Pacifico
Thursday– El Grito! At Pop Brixton

Friday – Independence day party at Club Makossa

Saturday – Tasting Festival at Unit 5 Gallery & Yard
Sunday -Tasting Festival at Unit 5 Gallery & Yard

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The headline Mezcal festival, held over 2 days in Hackney, will feature the UK’s biggest ever Mezcal tasting, where ticket holders can taste over 50 mezcals from 30 brands and talk to many of the faces behind the brands.

Independent brands are given precedence at this festival, which will be focusing on traditionally made mezcals and the families behind them. A proportion of ticket sales will go towards charities working within the agave community. For those looking to make a day of it, there will also be an array of Mexican street food, a mezcal bar
serving cocktails, beers and more, and a programme of art, DJS and live music over the weekend event. Some of London’s best Mexican restaurants will be involved including Bad Sports, Santo Remedio and Temper.

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So what are you waiting for? Book those tickets and remember to leave the salt and lime at the door. This is a sipping zone.

https://www.londonmezcalweek.com

Must Try Spirits of Summer 2017

Summer’s here and it is time to go over some notable releases for that cabinet!

Great to show off, some of these drops can be used wonderfully in simple cocktails, or best enjoyed neat after food. Let’s have a quick look:

Gins

What beats a G and T in the summer sun?

Two recent gins to be tried are certainly unique: the Scottish Isle of Harris, and the Japanese Ki No Bi!

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The Isle of Harris gin from Scotland is infused with sugar kelp, giving the gin a sweet but slightly briny finish. The nose is dry, juniper and florals are surrounded by citrus and pine. The palate has more of the pine and juniper, with sweet citrus and coriander. A light minerality is refreshing. The finish brings out the brine of the kelp after the vanilla and black pepper.

Great in a Martini, and only needs a small splash of tonic for a G and T.

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The Ki No Bi is smooth and well balanced. This Japanese gin has a nose of aromatic sansho and a powerful note of yuzu. The palate is silky, with the notable yuzu, sansho, bamboo and tea, the earthy notes followed by a hit of ginger root for a refreshing, fast finish.

Love this in a dry Martini for something subtle and balanced.

Whisky

oznor

Perched on the southern coast of Islay, the Ardbeg Distillery has forever held a deep connection to the sea. The depths around Ardbeg are full of legends of mysterious creatures that inhabit the skerries (small rocky islands) and kelp seaweed forests off our shore.

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Ardbeg Kelpie is named for the legends of the sea around Ardbeg. The whisky’s powerful aromas of oily peat, salty seaweed and tarry rope have been produced by virgin oak casks from the Black Sea, intermingled with the hallmark Ardbeg flavour profile. Waves of spicy black pepper give way to a delectable tide of bacon and dark chocolate for a deep, enticing dram.

This is notably far less smoky and peaty than the other Ardbegs, and instead revels in its chocolate sweetness, silky texture, and late afternoon soul.

Rum

Highball Hoodoo Appleton Estate Rum Joy Launch Review
Appleton Estate, the world’s leading Jamaican premium aged rum, releases Appleton Estate Joy Anniversary Blend, a limited edition rum celebrating Joy Spence’s 20thanniversary as Master Blender. In fact, Joy Spence was the world’s first female Master Blender, paving the way for more women Master Blenders across the globe.

The Joy is a blend of rums whose ages range from a 25 year old pot still and other pot and column stills, up to a spectacular 35 year – creating a beautiful copper spirit.

Appleton Estate Master Blender Joy Spence

Appleton Estate Master Blender Joy Spence

The rum opens with Appleton’s characteristic orange, and a powerful hit of ginger. The ginger then dances and effervesces on the sides of the tongue to slowly open up to coffee and cocoa, almond and oak, and lingering vanilla. The finale is a long length of deep, lightly burnt brown sugar.

A perfect late night digestif.

Mezcal

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Del Maguey Papalote de Puebla is a recent release from the Puebla valley.

The agave spirit is wonderfully delicate – creamy, smooth. Beginning with traditonal agave, powerful florals like lilac mask a bedrock of tropical fruit, a finish that is delightfully mineral with light hints of vanilla.

This a mezcal you want to enjoy neat in the sunshine.

 

That’s all for today, hope you enjoy these spirits as much as I have!

Tequila Fest 2o16 Preview!

Though the wide-spread drinking of tequila and the recent emergence of Mezcalerias like Agaveria El Nivel, one of the Hoodooist’s favourite openings 0f 2014, are known well enough, a connoisseurial culture of the spirit never completely blossomed in the Isles. “This is a no salt or lime zone”, stresses Festival organiser Eduardo Gomez, as we grab our tasting cups.

After last year’s major success, TequilaFest 2016 is not an event to be missed – on September 17th and 18th at the Boiler House Brick Lane!

Tequila TequilaFest Mezcal London Mexico

Hosted at Lupita, Shoreditch, the press preview brought forward a spectacular crowd to taste a large variety of tequilas & mezcals. A few fantastic discoveries in the world of agave for the Hoodooist, such as Meteoro‘s pure Espadin mezcal – it even comes with a backstory – a crater from a crashed meteor in Oaxaca became the cooking spot for this mezcal’s agave. Delightfully smooth, the Meteoro Joven is a fantastic sipping tequila. Bold, muscling in with powerful smokiness and a bright trail left behind, it lives up to it’s media campaign, #ItFellFromTheSky.

Tequila TequilaFest Mezcal London Mexico

Another of the TequilaFest newcomers to expect will be agave giant Patron with theirSilver, Reposado, Anejo and XO Cafe range – and in a few days will be unleashing their Incendio chilli-chocolate tequila onto #Drinkstagram tags everywhere.

Herencia de Plata has entered the ring as well, with their bright, peppery range, and can carry it’s weight in combat with the other stars of the show.

Tequila TequilaFest Mezcal London Mexico

Expect to see old reliables like Ocho, who have unveiled their Curado – a Blanco tequila that has been infused with agave – carrying their Blanco’s feel and kick, with a fruity wave of agave, addictive this one.

Stars of last year are back, from the smoky caramel Espadin San Cosme mezcal, to classic Altos and Siete Misterios Espadin, with that spicy, earthy smokiness and sugary dried fruit (so, so beautiful). And you certainly can’t go wrong with a Del Maguey Tommy’s Margarita.

Tequila TequilaFest Mezcal London Mexico

After the food provided by Lupita was demolished by the now slightly staggering clientele of the room, the Hoodooist realises that this year’s TequilaFest at the Boiler House Brick Lane is going to enormous in comparison to the previous year – this is an event he – and you – should certainly not miss.

Tequila TequilaFest Mezcal London Mexico

“The Tequila Fest will educate you in the customs of production and consumption and engulf you in the taste, smells, sounds and sights of true Mexico. There are few spirits with a more rich and fascinating lineage. Get to grips with the technical jargon, the process of distillation and the bounty of care that goes into every single bottle.” Also featuring blind tastings, cocktail tutorials and masterclasses, “Real tequila.”

http://www.tequilafest.co.uk/

Tequila Fest 2015 Preview @ Barrio East

Though the wide-spread drinking of tequila and the recent emergence of Mezcalerias like Agaveria El Nivel, one of the Hoodooist’s favourite openings 0f 2014, are known well enough, a connoisseurial culture of the spirit never completely blossomed in the Isles. “This is a no salt or lime zone”, stresses Festival organiser Eduardo Gomez, as we grab our tasting cups.

After last year’s major success, TequilaFest 2015 is not an event to be missed

Tequila TequilaFest Mezcal London Mexico

Hosted at Barrio East, Shoreditch (keep an eye out for their next Brixton opening, Barrio South), the press preview brought forward a spectacular crowd to taste a large variety of tequilas & mezcals. A few fantastic discoveries in the world of agave for the Hoodooist, such as Meteoro‘s pure Espadin mezcal – it even comes with a backstory – a crater from a crashed meteor in Oaxaca became the cooking spot for this mezcal’s agave. Delightfully smooth, the Meteoro Joven is a fantastic sipping tequila. Bold, muscling in with powerful smokiness and a bright trail left behind, it lives up to it’s media campaign, #ItFellFromTheSky.

Tequila TequilaFest Mezcal London Mexico

Another of the TequilaFest newcomers to expect will be agave giant Patron with their Silver, Reposado, Anejo and XO Cafe range – and in a few days will be unleashing their Incendio chilli-chocolate tequila onto #Drinkstagram tags everywhere.

Herencia de Plata has entered the ring as well, with their bright, peppery range, and can carry it’s weight in combat with the other stars of the show.

Tequila TequilaFest Mezcal London Mexico

Expect to see old reliables like Ocho, who have unveiled their Curado – a Blanco tequila that has been infused with agave – carrying their Blanco’s feel and kick, with a fruity wave of agave, addictive this one.

Stars of last year are back, from the smoky caramel Espadin San Cosme mezcal, to classic Altos and Siete Misterios Espadin, with that spicy, earthy smokiness and sugary dried fruit (so, so beautiful). And you certainly can’t go wrong with a Del Maguey Tommy’s Margarita.

Tequila TequilaFest Mezcal London Mexico

After the food provided by Barrio East was demolished by the now slightly staggering clientele of the room, the Hoodooist realises that this year’s TequilaFest at Old Spitalfield Market is going to enormous in comparison to the previous year – this is an event he – and you – should certainly not miss.

Tequila TequilaFest Mezcal London Mexico

“The Tequila Fest will educate you in the customs of production and consumption and engulf you in the taste, smells, sounds and sights of true Mexico. There are few spirits with a more rich and fascinating lineage. Get to grips with the technical jargon, the process of distillation and the bounty of care that goes into every single bottle.” Also featuring blind tastings, cocktail tutorials and masterclasses, “Real tequila.”

http://www.tequilafest.co.uk/

Tequila Fest Weekend 2014!

The much-awaited weekend finally showed up! Let me mention though, that a 5 day birthday bender is not a good way to prep yourself for this fest – but hey, I got a job to do.

We have an article about the Tequila Fest Press Preview a few weeks ago (Click HERE for Review!), where we covered a good list of tequilas and mezcals that caught our attention (Oh, that Ambar Extra Anejo *sigh*), so today we’ll post a few pics of tequilas and mezcals that were not covered in the previous article!

For one, this massive fest brought a whole new selection of spirits under the same roof, alongside cocktail and food stands, specialty Mexican cheeses and sauces, and of course, London’s La TienditaAy Que Chula! – your source of Mexican candies, randomness and accessories (We’ve met them at the Yelp! Elite Endless Summer Garden Party, Review HERE!). And don’t forget the extensive masterclasses and pairing sessions. And luchadors. Certainly don’t forget the luchadors.

So bring on the snaps! Remember, this is a no salt and lime zone.

TeqFest

 

Cocktails

 

On the left, we have The Lost Steps from the Megaro Bar (Click HERE for Review!)The Lost Steps (Ocho Blanco, cardamom sweet tea, Chartreuse elixir)  is a tequila fan’s dream; the nose is strongly citrus, and since I last tried it at the bar, this creation had a more intense cardamom flavour. The tea allows the notes of the tequila to unfold in a manner to savour the tequila’s various layers, smoothly and pleasantly.

On the right, the Metaxa: Tequila meets white armagnac and Bittermen’s Orange. Surprisingly smooth, the tequila’s edge is dulled for a relaxed drinking experience. The aftertaste of Bittermen’s Orange seemed to be enjoyable to some, but not others. Personally, greatly enjoyed it.

Herradura

 

Herradura, the classic horse-shoe logo, presenting one of the most charismatic blanco tequilas present – the Herradura Plata. A long-rested blanco (45 days), brings out the agave, making an excellent sipping blanco.

Sierra

 

Ah, Sierra. Responsible for the worst hangovers of your sixth-form years. I wasn’t sure what to expect here, but was pleasantly surprised – the Sierra Milenario Extra Anejo was actually a rather decent tequila, priced incredibly well around the 50 pound range for an Extra Anejo. Most notable was a milk chocolate smoothness, you could actually spend quite a while sipping this. As phrased by its representative, Sierra is kind of a victim of its own success, or/subtext, “We also actually make rather good tequilas,”. I do hope it is products like this that highlight Sierra more than sticky-floor-mini-sombrero association many initially think of.

Grillos

 

A young company here in the UK, Grillos could use the attention to get a chance to import their Anejos. Their Reposados were a bit sharp, but delightfully woody. I can sense a rather good Anejo in here somewhere.

Honourable mentions in Tequilas would be Arrette’s Anejo, with its pronounced violet flavours.

Onto the Mezcals!

Qui

 

Course, we can’t talk about mezcals without mentioning one of the most popular ones on the UK market, QuiQuiRiQui, named after the previous name of 184 Hackney Road, who you MUST check out for their Mezcalitas!

San Cosme

 

San Cosme is easily surging to the top of my favourite mezcals. Smooth as the devil, a fantastic introductory mezcal to initiates. I’m keeping an eye on this up and coming company.

Bruxo

 

Okay, Bruxo. These guys are exciting – presenting 5 different mezcals, each made with different – or a different combo of – agaves, creating a wonderful choice of mezcals, and great tasting flights for your cabinet. I noticed one of them being reminiscent of the rarely seen out of Mexico Fortaleza Tequila, only to find that the parent company is responsible for Fortaleza as well! Fantastic job. (For more on Fortaleza, click HERE).

 

And those are the tequilas and mezcals I haven’t covered before, but stood out on the incredible weekend that was Tequila Fest!

And if you had any sense about you, you’d keep an eye out for the next incarnation of the festival in the future.
¡ Salud !

http://www.tequilafest.co.uk/

 

Tequila Fest 2014 Preview @ Agaveria El Nivel

There are many ambassadors of Mexico to the UK,” announces the Mexican Ambassador behind the bar, “Tequila is one of them.

Working alongside event organisers, the Tequila Festival in London is being proposed almost as a diplomatic event – with good reason. Though the wide-spread drinking of tequila and the recent emergence of Mezcalerias like 184 Hackney Road are known well enough, a connoisseurial culture of the spirit never completely blossomed in the Isles. “This is a no salt or lime zone”, stresses Festival organiser Eduardo Gomez as we grab our Mexican passports.

Literally.

Literally.

Hosted at Agaveria El Nivel, one of the Hoodooist’s favourite openings this year (Click HERE for review!), the press preview brought forward a spectacular crowd to taste a large variety of tequilas & mezcals, either neat or in a margarita. A few fantastic discoveries in the world of tequila for the Hoodooist, such as Ambar’s selection of Blanco, Reposado, Anejo and Extra Anejo; where the aging of tequila isn’t dissimilar to that of cognacs, as the vanilla and wood notes begin to grow over time. Delightfully smooth, the Extra Anejo is a fantastic sipping tequila.

It also works surprisingly well in cocktails – a Tommy’s Margarita bursts with flavour here, and saved the Hoodooist’s butt in a cocktail competition that evening. Who knew that a blander Margarita made with a blanco tequila of an unnamed company can be spruced to life with a splash of Ambar Extra Anejo? Definitely remembering that concoction.

Ocho Tequila obviously makes an appearance – but I still vote for its use in cocktails moreso than to sip.

Siete Misterios still a winning mezcal for me, as is the Del Maguey, which I discovered at the Cocktails in the City show (Click HERE for review!). And whereas I was recommended the Papadiablo, it came off a bit harsh on the throat for myself.

On the note of mezcals, you can’t go wrong with a nicely smoky Del Maguey Tommy’s Margarita.

After the food provided by El Nivel (incredible as usual) was demolished by the now slightly staggering clientele of the room, the Hoodooist retires to the bar for a cheeky little sip of a Fortaleza Tequila – who knows when he’ll get a chance with this rarely-seen-outside-Mexico tequila. On the nose the warm pine is almost identical to the interior of a Swedish sauna, strangely; with smooth length, and sandalwood aftertaste. Unlike any other tequila tasted that day. Incredible.

Opinion of the night? Fantastic execution, one of the better press nights I’ve been to in a while, so major thanks to the organisers and Cutlass Communications! If the organisers keep this up, I can’t deny that Tequila Fest is going to be an incredible weekend that I’m already looking forward to!

“The Tequila Fest will educate you in the customs of production and consumption and engulf you in the taste, smells, sounds and sights of true Mexico. There are few spirits with a more rich and fascinating lineage. Get to grips with the technical jargon, the process of distillation and the bounty of care that goes into every single bottle.” Also featuring blind tastings, cocktail tutorials and masterclasses, and what the ambassador calls, “Real tequila.”
UPDATE: London Tequila Fest 2014 has been reviewed! Click HERE.

http://www.tequilafest.co.uk/