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Mezcal Nosotros – What Took So Long?

By October 19, 2020October 21st, 2020No Comments
Written by: Niko Loyatho | October 20th, 2020

In the final stages of our mezcal, we went through countless iterations of the label before we revealed our toucan. The toucan pays tribute to three regions that shaped our brand, Mexico, Costa Rica, and California. The glass was selected for height, curve, and feel in the hand. The final touch of twine is an homage to bagazo (or bagasse in English)—the fibers of an agave plant after extraction. But none of this compares to how much time we put into the sauce.

Our Approach

Our world is half plastic. We buy things with a click. The inventory in our homes is largely disposable. For us at Nosotros this has a subtle psychological tax and we gravitate to things built to last. We find some relief in evidence of use, wear, age, durability—whether in products, tools, methods, or principles. What’s so enchanting about French wine, and German beer, and Scotch whisky, is that they’ve been doing it the same way for centuries. Because it was the right way then, and it’s the right way now.

This too, is mezcal. It’s old. Older than the United States and older than Mexico. A mezcal palenque today is much the same as it would have been in an era where its neighbors were a blacksmith and a cobbler. Mezcal is usually made by a team you can count on one hand, being directed by a mezcalero who learned his craft from his father. To get a quick 101 on mezcal, read our Beginners Guide.

At Nosotros, how much we love tequila is how much we love mezcal. And we believe the more anyone learns about it the more they fall in love. But knowing its smoky boldness can deter the uninitiated palate, we set out to make a gateway mezcal—a mezcal sotto voce that appeals to newcomers without disappointing purists or tradition. So we tinkered. For two years we tinkered. Till now.

Heritage Meets the New World

Traditionally, legacy mezcals are bottled as high as 45% to 55% alcohol by volume (90 to 110 proof). The high proof offers the boldest flavor. We wanted to reduce the alcohol to make the sip more approachable but every time we did that, flavor suffered—the balance of sweet and earth was disrupted. So we started experimenting with other agaves. Enter tobalá.

About seventy-five percent of mezcal is made with an agave varietal called espadín. Like weber blue agave is cultivated for tequila, espadín is farmed for mezcal. Espadín is a close cousin to weber blue agave and was chosen for its life span, size, and sugar content at maturity. It is an excellent agave. But espadín is not the boldest agave.

Tobalá is known as “the king of mezcals” due to its tremendous flavor. The trouble with tobalá is it’s a smaller agave that takes longer to grow (up to 17 years) and is notoriously difficult to cultivate. Our tobalá is silvestre, meaning wild sourced. This requires foraging, harvesting where it’s found, and muling the piñas down to where they can be transported. Most often on literal mules as this isn’t terrain where one can simply drive a truck. The process is time, labor, and cost intensive. But it’s worth it.

The Formula

Using tobalá, we found the exact flavor we wanted at 42% ABV, mellowing the ethanol by a whisper. Like Supertuscan or Bordeaux wines that use a specific blend of grapes, a mezcal ensemble means a recipe of multiple agave varieties. We balanced sixty percent of espadín’s citrusy sweetness with forty percent of tobalá’s floral earthiness. And we thee wed. We’re not saying they should give our ensemble its own name and denomination of origin and quickly add it to the national archive in Mexico City or anything… But it’s that good.

To the skeptics, we’ll understand if you need to try for yourself before you can advocate for mezcal Nosotros.

Taste profile

The nose is sweet, fruity espadín—citrus and toasted pears. Fruits that start on the palate pivot to earthy, green pepper and pine notes that are signature tobalá. A soft smoke happens after the spectrum of other flavors. The finish is crisp, clean, and balanced. If you let the mezcal breathe in the glass, the pine notes warm up and it gets even better.

Thoughts from your bartender

This wouldn’t be complete without an ode to our maestro mezcalero, Alberto “Don Beto” Ortiz.

Our espadín and tobalá agaves are sourced from a Oaxcan mountain range called Sierra Sur. Don Beto then cooked with concave river rock ovens, milled using a tahona, fermented in pine wood tubs (for 9 days), and distilled using a copper pot still. But that’s only half a mezcalero’s impact. Other elements make up what you might call the “secret sauce”: agave ripeness at harvest, terroir (slope, air, orientation to sun), how much the piñas are allowed to char in the roasting, the fermentation environment’s ambient wild yeast, which wood is used to heat the still, and where the distillation cuts are made (across the heads, hearts, and tails). These variables are finessed by Don Beto and it is his savvy above any single element that makes Nosotros Mezcal what it is.

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