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Gracias a Dios Tobala Joven Mezcal

Gracias a Dios Tobalá
Joven Mezcal


By Robert Plotkin

It won't take you more than a few moments to become a lifelong fan of this mezcal. Gracias a Dios Tobalá Joven Mezcal 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.

Gracias a Dios Mezcal is entirely handmade in Santiago Matatlán, Oaxaca, at the company's palenque [NOM-0223X], or distillery. It has a production capacity of roughly 8000 liters a month, and every ounce is made under the watchful eye of Maestro Mezcalero Oscar Hernández Santiago. In this expression, the mezcal is made from tobalá agaves (agave potatorum) that grow wild in the Sierra Madre Mountains, one of many different varieties of agave native to the area. 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 finished spirit. For each bottle the distillery produces, they plant 3 new agaves to take its place.

After harvesting, the mature agaves are brought to the palenque where they are cooked for 4 days in a rock-lined, wood-fired dirt oven that is covered entirely with rocks and agave leaves. The cooked agaves are crushed using wooden mallets and a large stone, donkey-pulled tohona wheel. The extracted, sugar-rich juice is transferred to open oak vats where it is allowed to 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 45% alcohol (90 proof).

Gracias a Dios Tobalá Joven is exactly why legions of spirits enthusiasts are turning to mezcal as their drink of choice. The unaged spirit has pristine clarity, a satiny, lightweight body and a generous smoky, vegetal and citrus bouquet. 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 and slightly smoky. What an exemplary mezcal.

The Gracias a Dios Espadín Joven Mezcal is equally impressive. Made entirely from organic espadín agave (agave angustifolia), the unaged mezcal has a clear, shimmery appearance, a lightweight body and a bouquet laced with tropical fruit, citrus, baking spices and a hint of smoke. On the palate, the mezcal is all business as it rapidly develops prominent citrus zest, spice and fresh fruit flavors. Its finish is long, spicy and smoky.

The Gracias a Dios Espadín Reposado Mezcal exits the still and is immediately placed in charred, American white oak barrels for not less than 4 months. During its stay in wood, the mezcal develops a pale golden color, a lightweight body and lively set of spicy, citrusy aromas with notes of toasted oak. The palate is a lavish offering of spice, smoke, citrus, vanilla, caramel and mint. It finishes flavorful and silky smooth.

One of the great things about Gracias a Dios is there's no mistaking it for anything other than a mezcal. Only mezcal can charm the senses like it does.