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Craneo Organic 100% Agave Mezcal

Cráneo Organic 100%
Agave Mezcal


By Robert Plotkin

When a large corporate supplier develops a spirit it is invariably the product of spreadsheets and flow charts. On the other hand, a spirit representing the hopes and aspirations of a single village is invariably the product of passion, artisanship and unwavering quality standards.

Cráneo Organic 100% Agave Mezcal is just such a mezcal. Inspired by the celebration of life, Cráneo Organic Mezcal is a single village, artisanal mezcal handcrafted by local maestro mezcaleros, and all-star agave aficionado David Ravandi. When you hear about a spirit being handmade, this is exactly what you should envision. The mezcal is made using traditional methods and techniques, and vintage equipment passed down through the generations.

It won't take more than a few moments to become a lifelong fan of this mezcal. Cráneo is that good. Everything about it screams of authenticity. Its mouthfeel, aromatics and range of flavors are brilliant and etched with a palatable sense of place. There's no mistaking that this is great mezcal.

Cráneo is made in Santiago Matatlán, Oaxaca, at the company's palenque, or distillery [NOM-0425X]. Every ounce is crafted under the watchful eye of the maestro mezcalero. The process begins with organic Espadin agave grown above 5,600 feet in elevation. The agaves are USDA and EU certified organic, meaning they were grown without the use of pesticides or synthetic fertilizers. The end result is a cleaner, purer spirit.

The harvested agaves are brought to the palenque where they are cooked for days in a rock-lined, wood-fired dirt oven that is covered entirely with rocks and agave leaves. The cooked agaves are crushed using a donkey-pulled, stone tohona wheel. The extracted, sugar-rich juice is transferred to open oak vats where it slowly ferment using naturally occurring, airborne yeast. The final step is to double distill the fermented musto through the distillery's small, copper pot stills. It is bottled at 42% alcohol (84 proof).

Joven mezcals are bottled fresh from the still, free from the obscuring affects of barrel aging. They therefore serve as the truest gauge of a distiller's degree of craftsmanship and the creative style of the distillery. Alone in the glass you can easily assess all of its characteristics. This is particularly true about Cráneo Organic Mezcal Joven. It is exactly why legions of spirits enthusiasts are turning to mezcal as their drink of choice.

Alone in the glass you can easily assess all of this mezcal's characteristics. It has pristine clarity, a lightweight, satiny textured body and a citrusy, vegetal and slightly smoky set of aromas. Its aromatic signature is alluring and does a marvelous job preparing the palate for the pleasures to follow. The entry is soft and gentle as the mezcal quickly expands, filling the mouth with a bevy of spicy, citrusy and herbal flavors. Its lingering finish is spicy warm. What an exemplary mezcal.

This is a joven mezcal that deserves to be savored slowly and at room temperature. Make sure you afford its nose plenty of time in the glass to fully open and come to the forefront. Your patience will be well rewarded. To be fair, the brand is also sensational featured in a cocktail or mixed drink.