Sales of mezcal in this country are racing up the charts. Consumers looking for spirits loaded with character and authenticity have struck gold with the expanding roster of artisanal, 100% agave mezcals. Stringent production standards have been put into place within the industry that ensure the utmost degree of quality such that the mezcals of today bear little resemblance to the worm-laded mezcals of the past. A sterling example of just how compelling these Oaxacan gems can be is Mezcal Sacrificio Reposado 100% de Agave.
Mezcal Sacrificio is made by distillers Manuel Benet Sr. and Eric Hernández at Destilería Sacrificio [NOM 0158X] in Tlacolula, Oaxaca. The mezcal is handcrafted using 8 to 10 year old Espadin agaves. The agave "piñas" are brought to the distillery where they are wrapped for baking in mesquite wood-fired ovens for 2 days and nights under low, constant heat. After the agaves have been thoroughly baked, they are shredded using a donkey-drawn tahona wheel. The agave's sugar-rich juice is collected and transferred to wooden vats where it is allowed to slowly ferment using naturally occurring, airborne yeast.
A partial explanation for Sacrificio's singular character can be attributed to how it is distilled. The process begins with the fermented wash being distilled in a uniquely designed, steel pot still. Once the distillate emerges from that still it is distilled a second time in a traditional copper pot still.
Mezcal Sacrificio Reposado is matured for 3 months in un-charred oak barrels that were used previously to age brandy. Sacrificio is likely the only mezcal aged in this manner. Before bottling at 40% alcohol (80 proof), the mezcal is oxygenated to hasten its flavors fully integrating.
If you've yet to become enamored with a mezcal, Sacrificio may well do the trick. It is elegant and rustic at the same time. The mezcal has a faint amber/golden hue, a satiny textured, lightweight body and a generous bouquet comprised of spicy, herbaceous aromas with mesmerizing, smoky notes. Its aromatics alone are worth the price of admission. The entry is dry, soft and raises little in the way of heat. The mezcal rapidly expands in the mouth, bathing the palate with herbal, citrus, peppery and smoky flavors, which slowly fade into a slightly smoky, thoroughly delicious finish.
Mezcal Sacrificio Joven 100% de Agave is produced in the same manner as the reposado other than it is not matured in oak. This leaves the spirit unaffected by the considerable affects of barrel aging. After it exits the still, the mezcal is placed in stainless steel vats for a minimum of 30 days to allow its flavors to fully develop. It, too, is bottled at 40% alcohol (80 proof),
The Mezcal Sacrificio Joven has pristine clarity, a lightweight body and a spicy, herbal and pepper nose. Its vibrant palate is laced with the flavors of roasted agave, citrus zest, fruit and black pepper. The finish is long and flavorful.
Both expressions of Mezcal Sacrificio are masterpieces. While either would make a superb addition to a broad range of cocktail styles, you owe it to yourself to sample these extraordinary mezcals neat or over ice. Manuel Benet Jr, principal at Destilería Sacrificio, advises the mezcal may be at its best served chilled at 66°F.
"As good as it is sipped with a slight chill, Mezcal Sacrificio is also excellent paired with the flavors ginger, basil, Jamaica, mint and mild citric fruits like lemon, orange and grapefruit."