The Tasting Panel magazine

December 2016

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Page 65 of 124

december 2016  /  the tasting panel  /  65 december 2016 /  the tasting panel / 65 Bozal—Spanish for "wild" or "untamed"—is a perfect name for this set of four distinctive new 100% agave mezcal expressions from our friends at 3 Badge Mixology, producers of some of the finest craft spirits around. Their portfolio—including Bib & Tucker Bourbon, Uncle Val's Gin and Kirk & Sweeney Rum—has received some of the highest scores in our publication, and this exotically charged group of mezcals is no exception. Indigenous wild agave used for Bozal is grown on the steep hillsides of the Mexican states of Oaxaca and Guerrero. The hearts of the agave are cooked in earthen pit oven and later crushed by a horse-driven tahona wheel. Wild yeast fermentation lays its claim on the mash and the liquid is then purified through a double-distillation process. Before we even tasted Bozal, we were enthralled with the packaging—some of the most creative we've come across. Rustic, earth-toned ceramic bottles are tall and majestic and were inspired by the terra cotta clay copitas that are traditionally used for drinking mezcal. —Meridith May Bozal Cuixe Single Maguey, Oaxaca, Mexico ($80) The Cuixe is a species of agave (a subspecies of the Karwinskii family of agave) that grows vertically as a single stalk, with leaves spreading at the top. The nose is delicately woodsy, with sandalwood and black pepper. On the palate, grilled pineapple and a lanolin-based floral tone sweetness play alongside saddle leather and clay. The finish is generous. 94 proof. 95 Bozal Ensamble Espadín-Barril-Mexicano, Oaxaca, Mexico ($50) Espadín is the most prevalent agave grown in Oaxaca (known as the "mother" of blue Weber agave); Barril is a thick-foliaged wild agave; and Mexicano agave is grown in the lower elevations and possesses a high concentration of sugar. The nose on this blend is perfumed and extremely pretty, dotted with talcum powder (clay), lemon and magnolia blossoms. The flavors of sweet, floral-driven earth, river rocks with a touch of salinity paint the palate while sweet lilac-vanilla takes you to the lingering, round and creamy peaty-smoke finish. 94 proof. 100 Bozal Tobasiche Single Maguey, Oaxaca, Mexico ($80) It takes 12 to 13 years for this strain of agave to fully mature. With a bright licorice-citrus nose and a hint of earthy persimmon, this wild child's smoky character brings along herbs and pine with a touch of lemon bitters on the palate. Reminiscent of juniper and other botanicals used for gin, this liquid goes deep with swarthy notes of tobacco and charred oak. 94 proof. 94 Bozal Ancestral Papalote o Cupreata, Guerrero, Mexico ($100) Cupreata agave, also known as Papalote in the state of Guerrero, is grown on steep, difficult-to- harvest slopes. Perfumed notes of lavender clay and a subtle smoke interchange with myrrh and vanilla. Texturally round and buoyant, the liquid seems to float across the palate in an ethereal caress of lemongrass and caramelized smoke, which evolves in an indulgent charred marshmallow finish. 96.8 proof. 99 SPECIAL REPORT FROM PUBLISHER'S PICKS Earth, Ceramic and Wild Agave 3 BADGE MIXOLOGY INTRODUCES BOZAL MEZCAL

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