Agave Spirits to Brighten Up your World

Agave Plants: Why We Love Tequila & Mezcal

 

Both tequila and mezcal share Mexico as the source of the agave plants that make up these popular spirits. But they certainly have their differences. Tequila is made from the blue agave plant, mostly in areas near the city of Tequila. On the other hand, mezcal is made from over the 30 agave species, varietals, and subvarietals—most often near Oaxaca. Because there are just so many of these wonderful agave-based spirits to choose from, we’ve enlisted the help of sales associates Erik Guzinski, Tammie Teclemariam, Josh Mizrahi, assistant spirits buyer Cristina Nichols, and spirits buyer Nima Ansari-Bahmini. Below are some of their favorites.

Casa Noble Astor Exclusive Añejo Tequila
This single-cask beauty will seduce the palate of any serious tequila drinker. Herbs and floral notes on the nose are balanced with a spicy, savory nuttiness on the palate, but the star of the show is the Cognac cask barrel aging—it is spectacularly integrated with the agave character. It gives the liquid an intriguing, rich, velvety texture. This is a refined spirit that commands your attention. -EG

Fortaleza Blanco Tequila
Fortaleza Blanco is certainly a departure from the sleek and ultra-premium offerings, but you might not miss them once you see what this tequila has to offer. Intense grassy flavors with loads of pepper remind you what agave is all about. A superlative sipper. -TT

Union Mezcal Uno
A well-made, integrated, and versatile mezcal from Oaxaca. Perfect for sipping neat with an orange slice dipped in tajin chili powder. Also, Union Mezcal’s smoked agave notes pair perfectly in cocktails with tropical fruit juices like passion fruit and guava—or with floral liqueurs like St. Germain. -JM

Marca Negra Dobadan Mezcal
Far-ranging notes of white pepper, honeydew, pineapple, white chocolate, floral notes, and grass will tease your senses. A soft, mouth-watering entry leads to a complex agave spirit that you’ll want to sit back with on summer nights. -CN

Nuestra Soledad Ejutla Mezcal
Right out of the bottle this mezcal bursts forth boldly with smoky, masculine, BBQ aromas like a Texas rodeo—filled with hay and leather. As it mellows out, some mineral notes emerge with a breath of ocean air mixed with wet clay and sweet, cooked red peppers. If you think these notes sound a bit ridiculous, I agree. But that’s just how ridiculously fascinating this Nuestra Soledad is. People didn’t hallucinate on mezcal as lore suggests, they were just enraptured by its beguiling nature that sparks imagination. This agave-based spirit does just that and finishes with a satisfying and lingering fire pit smoke. -CN

Azteca Azul Blanco Tequila
When you’re looking for your affordable house spirits, there’s usually a concession in flavor or smoothness for price. Azteca Azul Blanco is an agave game changer. You can skip the lime and salt as this new gold standard elegantly offers them on the nose with a backbone of creamy vanilla goodness. Smoothness follows. -CN

El Jolgorio Wild Espadin Mezcal
Espadin is the most widely cultivated agave species in Mexico for mezcal production. While there is a great difference between the many expressions on the market, batches made from wild grown plants are extremely rare. This extraordinary offering from the village of Rio Golea is from the 2009 vintage and about to run out. It is the best Espadin we have ever had. -NAB

Rey Campero Jabali Mezcal
Jabali is a species of agave that grows almost exclusively in the wild. The tiny plants typically take decades to mature before they are harvested and transformed into mezcal. Jabali bottlings are a labor of love that have become among the most coveted in the mezcal world because of their rarity and incredible complexity. This artisanal bottling is also one of the best values out there for this special agave spirit. -NAB

Nuestra Soledad Lachigui Mezcal
Pedro Vasquez—affectionately known as Tio Pedro—is without question one of the greatest living practitioners of mezcal. Perched nearly 10,000 feet up in the tiny village of Lachigui, he pours his soul into each ounce of mezcal that runs off of his stills. Every drop we can get is one to be cherished. And luckily, with this master’s first edition release of Espadin, more and more can experience the magic of these mezcals. -NAB

Real Minero Pechuga Mezcal
For six generations, the esteemed Angeles Carreno family of Santa Catarina Minas have been producing traditional mezcals the way they have been for over half a millennium. Their version of this special ceremonial style is perhaps the best version currently available. The mixture of fresh almonds, seasonal heirloom fruits, chicken, and rice come together beautifully. -NAB