“Mezcal is not to be drunk, it is to be kissed”

Mezcal is still considered in some parts of Mexico to be the sacred expression of the ancient gods (see Agave: A History of Time), and its flavours are said to reflect the delights that nature brings us. For this reason, drinking Mezcal should be like no other ritual. Respecting the traditions inherent in drinking it is part of the folklore and journey that Mezcal offers.

If you are not used to drinking pure spirits, try Mezcal in a cocktail first before trying it on its own. Its natural flavours lend themselves well to all types of cocktails. However, to fully appreciate the flavours and experience the adventure, we recommend that you enjoy it in the purest way possible: on its own, without any accompaniment.

I – Mezcal is best enjoyed alone

Mezcal should not be drunk in one go, it is not tequila. Mezcal should be embraced. Drinking it in one go would not do it justice, as its notes are so complex, changing and sometimes even confusing. Served in a Mezcal glass, larger than an ordinary shot, its aromas will be released to give you the best experience.

You have to bring your lips together and gently kiss your glass to feel the aromas and flavours come over you. This first sip will prepare our palate, and it is only from the second that you will begin to perceive the different notes and nuances that intermingle. All you have to do is enjoy the remaining few sips to refine your palate and try to detect the different flavours that are released.

Mezcal is a powerful drink with a magical aura and complex flavours. It was created to be sipped slowly, to savour every sip. If you wish, you can accompany it with a slice of orange and “sal de guzano” or alternatively, you can enjoy it with a light beer.

II – Recognising its nuances

Now that you have sharpened your palate, it is time to recognise the Mezcal in front of you. Smell it slowly and then put a few drops between your palms and rub them together until the Mezcal dries. Immediately place your hands under your nose and breathe in deeply the scent.

By breathing deeply, you will be able to notice the true aromas of the Mezcal. Is it smoky? Earthy? Herbal? Floral or lemony? Mezcal has an extremely rich spectrum of flavours and don’t be surprised to find very different notes between two Mezcals. A Mezcalero maestro or Mezcalier expert would be able to recognise the type of agave and the region from which the Mezcal comes – like an oenologist – but only years of experience and tasting can give you such skills. So don’t despair if you don’t recognise the flavours of Mezcal instantly and enjoy the experience.

III – What should you look for in a Mezcal?

When it comes to choosing a Mezcal, three factors are important:

Most Mezcaleros use family recipes passed down through the generations and it is important to check who created it. Never go for an industrial or mass-produced mezcal.
Where was it made? Like wine, the land and climate will influence the flavours of Mezcal. The historical home of Mezcal is in the Oaxaca region but other regions produce very good Mezcal.
What type of agave has been used? Each plant has its own characteristics and flavours and this will influence the flavours.

These three factors are part of an even longer list of parameters that will influence the flavours of Mezcal (see Mezcal: A magical process), making it a spirit with an almost infinite variety of flavours.

IV – Smoked flavours

Be careful with the now famous smoky aromas in Mezcal. During the production of Mezcal, the agave hearts are cooked in ovens dug into the ground and left for several days. It is during this stage that the smoky notes appear. However, when Mezcal “smells a lot”, it is considered defective. The smoky notes should be subtle and a strong taste is often a sign of poor quality Mezcal: the agave hearts have been burnt and the natural flavours of the agave have been lost. A good Mezcalero maestro knows how to balance these smoky notes with the rest of the agave’s flavours. Even if some prefer it more or less pronounced, this characteristic taste should never overshadow the other notes. At Devoción we have chosen to have only subtle smoky notes in order to let all the fruity and peppery flavours express themselves.

You are now ready to begin your discovery and to challenge the unreal. Enjoy each sip, each moment to disconnect from everything around you and take part in the journey. Let this elixir flow through your veins and celebrate life.