The surest way to determine the quality and character of a brand of 100% agave mezcal is to sample the silver version. Free of the obscuring effects of barrel aging, the silver expression is bottled fresh off the still and is typically the truest gauge of the master distiller's craftsmanship and the style of the distillery. Alone in the glass you can assess all of its personality. And when well made, blanco mezcals have thoroughly engaging personalities.
One of the best examples is Zignum Silver 100% Agave Mezcal. The clear, shimmery spirit has a silky textured body and a generous fruit, spice and floral bouquet. The longer it is allowed to breath, the more aromatics are released. Frankly, its aromatics and full body are well worth the price of admission. The mezcal's entry is cool and mild, after which it warms slightly as it delivers its palate of red berries, apples, cocoa, cloves, herbaceous agave and baking spices. The long finish is filled with fruit and spice. It's a sultry spirit best experienced neat or slightly chilled.
The mezcal is crafted in Oaxaca at Casa Armando Guillermo Prieto [NOM 050X], which is not only the biggest mezcal distillery, but it employs a state of the art production process. Zignum mezcal is distilled from green espadin agaves. After harvesting, the agaves are ground and steam baked in autoclaves. The extracted juice is transferred to stainless steel fermentation tanks where it is allowed to slowly ferment. The fermented wash—referred to as mosto—is then distilled in column stills and bottled at 40% alcohol by volume (80 proof).
Zignum Reposado 100% Agave Mezcal is aged in American white oak barrels for a minimum of 8 months. It has a rich golden hue, a satiny textured body and a bouquet laced with vanilla, caramel, dark chocolate and fresh fruit. The reposado has an extremely gentle entry and a palate brimming with the bakery fresh flavors of cinnamon, toffee, vanilla and spice. The lingering finish is spicy warm.
Fans of barrel-aged spirits will swoon over Zignum Añejo 100% Agave Mezcal. It is matured for not less than 16 months in new French oak casks. The dark amber mezcal has a full, voluptuous body, a slightly smoky aroma and a long, flavorful finish. It's a noble, character-laded mezcal best served neat or with a small ice cube. A post-prandial gem.
All that's left to say — "Zignum Mezcal, welcome to the United States!" ¡Salud!