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Tokyo Bar Chronicles: Mezcaloteca Tobala

Please bear with me for a bit more, as I still have a lot to say about why I really love Japan. If there’s one more thing I love about Japan, it is that it seems a place where one will always be able to find pockets of any size for any hobby.

Lately, my favorite malternative has been rum, and my second favorite is Mezcal, with brandy a strong third. Thankfully, for the first favorite, I know I won’t have any problems. Looking for rum bars in Japan’s major cities, I have seen a fair amount in Osaka, I know a great bar in Kyoto, and I’ve experienced a lot of geeky rum bars in Tokyo.

Unfortunately, Mezcal is still something I have not seen much of in Japan. Before this most recent Tokyo trip, the most I’d seen was Mezcal for mixing when going out. Some places had the higher-end Del Magueys, at most. That was it. Luckily, a friend who is also a spirits enthusiast went to Tokyo a few months ago. To my delight, he said he had a great time at a new Mezcal bar that opened sometime in March or April of 2019.

The bar is called Cuishe Mezcaleria. It’s owned and operated by Yu Yoshikawa, who seems to have a huge fascination with Mexican culture. He has been to Oaxaca, Mexico and has all sorts of tequila and Mezcal books on his shelves. He knows the big names in the agave world like Julio Bermejo and Phil Bayly, and a lot of his Mezcal are either ordered online from the Whisky Exchange or hand carried from Mexico.

All, if not most, of the bottles in his back bar are Mezcal, and at least three rows deep. That is a lot of Mezcal! The biggest collection I’ve seen so far in Asia. Hong Kong’s COA is probably the only other one that can match it.

The bar’s IG account is rather active, so before arriving, I already knew what I wanted to try: the newly released Velier Palenqueros Mezcals. True to Luca Gargano’s style, they heavily feature the different producers. Of course, they are undiluted. I’ll tell you, they’re delicious stuff. Sadly, I can’t submit reviews of the Palenqueros Mezcals here, as I’m part of the team that just started importing La Maison and Velier to the Philippines.

After a few of the Palenqueros Mezcal, I just said “osusume” to Yu-San, asking what he’d recommend. I guess he sensed that I liked high-end Mezcal, so he happily presented me with this Mezcaloteca Tobala. He said I should try to compare it with the Palenqueros Tobala I had drunk before.

The Tobala agave is often referred to as the king of agave; thus, it was nice to be able to compare two kings. It takes 8 to 15 years for a Tobala agave to reach full maturation, and this pour is a solid example of the word “osusume” leading to a solid win, as this Mezcal was delicious.

As you can see, this brand is very transparent. It lists down the whole production process.
Mezcalero (distiller) – Victor Ramos
Estado (state) – Oaxaca
Pueblo (town) – Miahuatlan
Magueys Empleado (agave used) – Agave Potatorum (scientific name for Tobala)
Tipo de horno (type of oven) – Horno cónico de tierra (conic earth oven)
Tipo de molienda (grinding type) – Molino de piedra (stone mill)
Tipo de tina de fermentacion (fermentation tub type) – Madera de sabino (Sabino wood)
Agua Utilizada en la fermentacion (water used in fermentation) – agua de pozo (well water)
Tipo de destilacion (distillation type) – Alambique de cobre con refrescadero (copper still with cooler)
Numero de destilacion (number of distillation) – 1
Ajuste de la riqueza alcohólica (adjustment of the ABV) – puntas y colas (heads and tails)
Pecha de destilacion (date of distillation) – March 2016
Litre producciones (liters of production) – 210 liters
Lote (lot) – Lot 1-16

Since Mezcal was an upper, it—along with the bar’s delicious quesadillas and chicken tacos—
gave me enough spirit to go to Apollo Bar night cap. This led to my earlier Chita Limited Edition review.

Please note that I was sniffing and drinking the Mezcal out of a copita. Copitas for Mezcal are like shorter and wider shot glasses.

Mezcaloteca Tobala – review

Color: liquid diamond.

On the nose: melon, peach, funky bamboo roots, chicken liver, lime and orange peel, moscato grapes, sakura, honeydew, floral honey, azuki beans, vanilla and hints of pandan.

In the mouth: floral fruits! Peach, melon, moscatel grapes, agave, mint jelly, honeydew, berries, pineapples, orange jam. Some roasted chicken cooked in pandan leaves.

Conclusions

This did not hit like its ABV. It was fruity, savory, floral and succulent. This was lovely!

This Mezcal was at some points mellow; then, during other sips, it turned rough. True to what a lot of more experienced Mezcal drinkers I’ve met have said, Mexico’s native spirit can be reflective of the stereotypical Mexican temperament: easy-going at some points, passionate at others.

Score: 8/10

CategoriesMezcal
  1. Avatar
    Duncan says:

    I’m really enjoying this series! Also have a trip to Kyoto, Osaka and surrounds planned for summer. Would be grateful for any bar recommendations you have with a lean towards whisky and cocktails. Thanks!

    1. John
      John says:

      Hi Duncan, I’m glad you’re finding this useful! I’m going back to Kyoto in a couple of weeks so I might be able to do a Kyoto or Kansai series.

      Kyoto
      Rum and Whisky (not going to insult your intelligence)
      Bar Calvador (Calvados and whisky)
      Bar Le Coq (Cocktails and Armagnac)
      Bar K6, Bees Knees and Rocking Chair (I haven’t been to any of these but all highly recommended)

      Osaka
      Bar K (known to be the best cocktail bar in Osaka)
      Bar Agreeable (cocktails and spirits)
      Bar Elixir K (whisky, old liquor and cocktails)
      Bar Juniper (sister bar ok Bar Elixir K)
      Bar Country (A consistently recommended whisky bar I havent been to)

      Cheers

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