Updated: Jan 22
Context: This series of mysteries is compliments of Don Pablo. I'm enjoying these with my wife, Corina. We both loved Mystery "C" which turned out to be an excellent madrecuish - 2015 Mezcal CUISH. While we have no idea what any of these spirits are, we do know that Don loves mezcal. So we're not flying totally blind.
Figuring most of these would be mezcal, I thought it would be fun to taste these with Corina. Mezcal makes it into her top three distilled spirit categories, joining funky Jamaican rum (emphasis on the overripe tropical fruits and glue/rubber notes, e.g. Hampden) and, in her words, "filthy scotch," which is usually heavily peated, <10 years old, full of smoked meats, and over 100 proof. There have been a handful of Signatory Coal Ila bottlings that fit this bill for her nicely. She is not a fan of bourbon or a heavy oak influence in brandy and has no problem bowing out when a pour is not her thing. So she can be a tough sell.
Our notes were messaged to Don for the reveal.
Kris: Musty cabin (old carpet). Latex paint. Strawberry cream cheese. Pineapple. Complex, clear, and super interesting.
Corina: Strawberry French Toast. Fresh lake water (no dead fish). High-grade maple syrup. Sour cream.
We're mostly on the same page with the nose, both enjoying it.
Kris: Underripe banana. Gasoline. Over-steeped chamomile. Bruised mint. Dark Chocolate.
Corina: Gravel. Fire. Mushrooms (she's not a fan of mushrooms).
Corina had trouble pulling notes here. I did for a long time as well and needed to give it extended time in the glass. It took serious patience; the heat definitely interfered with the clarity.
Palate Structure: Thin for a hot second. It's tight is slow to unspool. Then it's a big swell of heat before dipping into that banana. Then flavor ghosts before it gets bitter. The mint and dark chocolate are way late after the heat subsides.
Alcohol Integration: This one is unruly - loses its grip. I added water (2 drops to one ounce) which I don't ever remember being compelled to do with agave distillate before. The water totally wrecks the nose which was the initial highlight. It does clarify the pineapple, but that's no consolation. Most of the character is scrubbed clean. It also muddles the palate and things become generically sweet before delivering a soft bitterness.
Score: 3 (Wish I Was Drinking Something Else) The pre-water nose was a lot of fun. But I couldn't hang with the heat on the palate and couldn't make it swim with water. There's a ton of character and complexity in its raw form, but it drops flavor too often too keep me invested.
Corina says, "Too hot. You're on your own."
110+ proof mezcal? Straight off the still. Some sort of unusual production or cut?
Post Reveal Thoughts: Way off on the proof. I wonder why this one played so hot? I've rarely felt the need to add water to something under 110 proof, almost never under 100 proof. To check my palate, I drank some 107.8 proof Espadin (Rey Campero) during the tasting. It didn't drink hot next to this. I know proof isn't often an accurate indicator of how boozy things play, but this is the most ferocious 96 proof spirit I've run across.
10 - Reevaluate The Budget
9 - Stash Two (If Able)
8 - Stash One (At The Right Price)
7 - Highly Recommend It To Strangers
6 - Solid - Above Average
5 - Acceptable For The Situation
4 - Not Vocally Complaining
3 - Wish I Was Drinking Something Else
2 - Nothing Nice To Say
1 - Drain Pour