Tasting Box 1
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Take a trip through southern Mexico with Melate’s Tasting Box experience. Each box contains 10 50mL samples and a tasting card perfect for up to 4 people to enjoy.
These samples range from agaves that are so rare, we couldn’t purchase enough for our club subscription, to painfully close runner ups that just didn’t quite make a club spot, to expressions that are extremely unique and polarizing in flavor. For those that know our club, expect the same level of quality spirits in this box.
Live Group Tasting:
Take notes on your tasting card as you go and even submit a ranking of your favorite to least favorite expression through our survey. Each box comes with an invitation to a group virtual Taste & Chat where we can all discuss each expression together live. One zoom virtual tasting will be scheduled in mid-late October and another will be scheduled in early January at minimum.
Mezcalero Interviews, Photos, and More:
Through the Mezcaleropedias interactive map, you can virtually visit each palenque and get to know the producer! Given the current conditions, this is the closest you can get to replacing those plans to Oaxaca.
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10 expressions with 9 plant varietals produced by 8 mezcaleros spanning 7 regions, featuring 3 different distillation pots and 2 non-agave distillates all in 1 Tasting Box.
This box is perfect for enthusiasts who love to discover new flavors and meticulously distinguish the tasting notes between each expression. 4 people can have 0.42 oz pours which is perfect for taking a few solid sips, but not be wiped out after trying all 10 expressions in one sitting. For those that really want to go back and forth and have follow up sips to further evaluate, we’d recommend splitting the box among no more than 2 people total.
1. Papalometl by David – Fermented in fresh 2 month old cowhide
We chose this Papalometl because it was a unique chance to try fresh cowhide fermentation. Many mezcaleros in this region go 6 years without replacing their cowhide. This was only the second batch made in the new hides and it comes from a palenque partially financed through Melate club member gofundme donations!
You would never guess it was 51.6% abv! Soft aroma reminding you of the sweet smell of opening the horno, but then a shocking burst of flavor on the initial approach that lingers indefinitely. Extremely balanced and constant sweet flavor notes. Surprisingly no leather notes on our palates.
2. Piñuela by Luis – tropical flower cooked for only 10 minutes on open stone
When the Mezcalero of July 2019 posted photos on social media of red spiky balls being roasted, we thought to ourselves, I wonder what that tastes like… so we thought our members might also like to know.
The first time trying this months ago, all we could remember was lots of heat and it wasn’t a favorite. Now, on the second try half a year later, we are getting spring season, floral, pineapple mango notes with almost no heat. The aroma matches the flavor quite predictably. We also got cotton candy, jelly bean notes on this one. This has a rather big entry and short finish. Perhaps the most distinct flavor in the box, but could be confused with the Cucharillo.
3. Cucharillo by Hermogenes – another non-agave plant sprouting new quiotes every decade
From the Mezcalero of August 2020 who arguably brought the club the most popular expression featured to date, his Cucharillo was a close runner up to his club Tepextate. One of the reasons the Tepextate was ultimately selected for the club is that there just wasn’t enough Cucharillo available at the time.
Humid earth aroma similar to water sitting in clay in the rainy season. Medicinal herbs with medium complexity and a medium finish. There is an interesting complexity that is distinct from mezcal, that we had a very tough time articulating – just different. Earthy but not like Madre Cuixe. Slightly sweet but not as sweet as Piñuela. Easy to drink, very welcoming, very thin texture.
**Individual 375mL bottles for sale**
4. Cupreata (aka Tobala Verde) by Federico – distilled by the 95 year old Puebla legend
Federico’s Ensamble feature in June of 2020 was a bigger hit than we expected. His Cupreata (aka Tobala Verde) and Tobala mezcal are great for those searching for something safe, friendly, and non-polarizing. Ultimately we chose to feature not one, but two expressions from Don Fede because we want to offer the world his product while we still can. Individual 375 mL bottles of his Cupreata and Ensamble are available. Great for an affordable delicious mezcal, but even better as a special collectors item.
Burnt wood light aroma, woody flavor. Medium explosion on the palate, with a low complexity overall, but a softer flavor lingers for an extremely long time. Very thick texture. Very minerally, almost rock-like. It’s a toss up between his ensamble and Cupreata. The ensamble has more complexity, but the Cupreata has an insanely friendly flavor.
**Individual 375mL bottles for sale**
5. Espadilla (Mexicano) by Federico – heads and tails cut using only sense of smell
Most of our club members have tried Don Fede’s Tobala – Espadilla ensamble. We thought it would be fun to try the Espadilla side by side with that ensamble to see how different the two agaves were. The Tobala was too smooth for the club in our opinion, while the Espadilla had a distinct amount of bite. The two balanced each other perfectly, but let’s see how this one does on its own.
Within our three person tasting, our results and opinions were quite varied here. Some identified cotton candy like aroma notes, another identified strong wet grass notes, and others a Spring Febreeze aroma. The initial explosion is what we remembered it to be, quite intense after a few moments of building up, but it dies off quite rapidly with a fast finish. It was very front loaded and could be described as low balance. Flavor descriptions included bees wax and lighting a candle. There is notably much less texture than his Cupreata, showing that the agave more than the process is at play there.
**Espadilla-Tobala ensamble 375mL bottles for sale**
6. Ensamble by Agustin – wild, semi-cultivated, and cultivated agaves all rolled into one
The Mezcalero of August 2019 recently won first place in the Maestros del Mezcal competition this past Spring with his Madre Cuixe expression. Although Agustin is one of the absolute most talented producers we have worked with, his club featured Velato was admitingly more interesting than it was award winning. We wanted to highlight his more popular expressions by featuring his Madre Cuixe (40%), but with a little twist of Arroqueño (40%) and Bicuixe (20%) to spice things up.
The nose is floral, citric, almost minty. The explosion and complexity were much more distinguishable than the aroma because it takes you through a backwards roller coaster unlike any other expression in the box. It starts off light and then slowly gathers more and more intensity on the palate. You have more taste 5 seconds after the initial sip than 1 second after the initial sip. The complexity is as unique as the finish as there are mysterious notes that last so short before the next note that it is very challenging to evaluate them; probably due to the “ensamble effect”. This is another thick, minerally textured liquid with sweet mint and dry herb flavors.
**Individual 375 mL bottles for sale**
7. Jabali by Agustin – three times distilled, rather than two
When we picked up our Ensamble from Agustin, he told us about the batch of Jabali he was about to make the following month. Although this put our entire shipment in jeopardy of being late, the thought of a fresh Jabali batch from Agustin was too alluring to pass up. This gave us a chance to highlight Agustin’s work a second time, create an opportunity for a side by side Jabali comparison, and allow us to double feature an agave that we have struggled to feature in the club.
Well the wait for this batch was certainly worth it. Fruit and vanilla aroma with a base of red tree fruit flavor. There is a hint of menthol at the beginning and then herbal and then earthy. Full of complexity, and highly balanced. It really hits the back of the throat and clears out your respiratory pathway.
8. Espadín by Rodrigo – one of Melate’s favorite Espadíns ever
We’ve always been in love with Don Goyo’s Espadín featured in Nuestra Solidad. The father-son duo made this Espadín together in preparation for Rodrigo’s Espadín Pechuga batch for the club. Not only does it showcase how amazing the more common Espadín plant can be, but it allows our club members to compare their recently received Espadín Pechuga to just plain Espadín.
This is an all around well balanced Espadín with herbal aroma notes but then more fruity sweet orange flavor notes in the finish. The initial sip really goes up into the nose with a presence of heat and strongly lingers for some time. The texture is undeniably thick and minerally, making your saliva thick along the way and wanting another sip.
**Individual 375mL bottles for sale**
9. Jabali by Coronel – Fermented in underground cement vats at 2600 feet
With the many challenges to producing mezcal in this colder mountainous region north of Oaxaca cirty, Coronel is the only producer in the area, making this a very curious product to try. We chose the Jabali primarily because we had not represented many Jabali’s until this point and this expression offered a polarizing flavor that we hope will lead to some good discussions.
A light aroma with a surprisingly powerful explosion. It is a constant complexity that could be described as very present, but uneventful. There is a citric and spicy flavor that slightly comes off as artificial – not earthy.
10. Chuparrosa by Isaac – One of the rarest agaves we’ve offered; >200 harvested annually
One of our club members shared a facebook post with us about this extremely rare batch being offered. We never had heard of it or seen an agave quite like it. Needless to say, we were intrigued and wanted to meet the producer, but in March of 2020, we could not access the town to meet Isaac. His nephew came to let us sample the Chuparrosa and we immediately scooped up everything we could as many were trying to get their hands on this and it was clear why.
The soft humid earthy aroma doesn’t exactly match the more intense explosion of flavor and dry heat with this one. The immediate sensation is all in the front of the mouth and up into the nose, but then it lingers strongly on the lips. Some would say it’s full of character and strong complexity, while others might say it’s tasty but not as friendly. Flavor notes included violet, jasmine, mouthwash, and fresh mint.
**Individual 375mL bottles for sale**
Given that we are yet to meet the mezcalero, you will not find this producer in the mezcaleropedia. The label does not have a signature like the others because the producer did not feel comfortable providing it. All of our information came from a very knowledgable nephew of the producer, Oscar, who we got to know on multiple occasions and discuss his town’s spirits in depth.
Here are some of our notes for Chuparrosa:
- The Mezcalero and his nephew strongly discouraged this to be turned into an ensamble due to the rare nature of the Chuparrosa and unique flavor. Respect.
- Its appearence is normally a little less curvy than the photo because of how the one in the photo (8 years old) was grown on the side of hill.
- Oscar has identified two pueblos in which he’s actually confirmed they have Chuparrosa
- 10 years ago, everything was 10 pesos a liter. It didn’t matter what type, Espadin or Chuparrosa, it was all the same.
- They used to plant Chuparrosa, but it wasn’t valued. Espadin became the primary focus recently, capturing a price of 50 pesos a liter… then someone came to town and wanted to pay 300 pesos for Chuparrosa… and it changed everyone’s perception of the plant.
- 2 years ago, the producers and agaveros became more conscious to replant the Chuparrosas as wild ones were disappearing (and because they now saw the value of it)
- Right now there are about 1000 plants in the entire town
- A 3 year old plant can have 4 or 5 babies in the warm season… but a lot of plague and animals eat it.
- In a lifetime, they average out to 6 or so survival propagations
- Right now, the number of plants is going up and up
- They are semi cultivated in the sense that they are replanted in the mountains and then left alone for 5-7 years
- They are not sure the scientific name or what variation of agave it is most closely related to.
- The piñas come to be an average of 120 kg
This tasting box is the best way to experience ten agave spirits without having to be stuck with bottles you don’t love.
If you are thrilled with a given expression, order the 375 mL bottle with a 5% discount.
We hope to see you in the next zoom Tasting Box chat soon!
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