I’m back with another Mezcal review.
Apologies again to those wanting more of them here at Malt; having easier access to other spirits makes me forget about buying these samples to research and review. The local F&B industry is still being ravaged by the pandemic, and the incompetent government hasn’t encouraged importers to bring in new brands, so it’s still more of the same here for me.
Thus, the theme today mirrors my prior Mezcal review: I will look at a brand’s expressions that use the Espadin agave. Espadin is the most used agave for Mezcal production because it’s the most farmed and cultivated variety of agave. Since most Mezcal aren’t aged, there is nothing for the producer to hide behind. What a customer tastes is the expression and quality of the raw material and the distiller’s talent.
You would be less inclined to move on to the expensive items of a brand if you didn’t like the cheap ones, right? You might also think of it as trying a brand’s 10- or 12-year-old single malt Scotch. If you like their cheapest expression, you’ll feel comfortable trying the more expensive bottles in their range.
Today’s Espadin is from Yuu Baal. I bought this sample from a local agave spirits-focused bar named Atoda Madre. The brand is owned by Grupo Yuu Baal, a 100% Mexican-owned company. They highlight the native Oaxacan traditions of Mezcal producers. The group is made up of producers in San Juan del Rio, San Luis del Rio Tlacolula and Miahuatlán, which are all in the state of Oaxaca. Looking at K&L, Yuu Baal means “earth and fire” in Zapotec.
According to Yuu Baal, the quality of magueys (agave) begins in the Earth, which means they have to look after it. There must be absolute respect for the environment. As a result, the planting, cutting and distillation are all done manually.
The Yuu Baal website doesn’t give much information on their expressions, so I have to rely on other resources like Mezcal Review. According to them, the Mezcalero (distiller) of this expression is Isais Martinez Juan from San Juan Del Rio. The site also hints that this Mezcalero also distills for other Mezcal brands like Marca Negra and Sombra.
Pacific Edge says the agave were baked in a concave stone oven and was crushed by stone mills. The statement that they were crushed by stone makes me think the agave were crushed via tahona. These are usually stone wheels powered by an animal. The back label says this is also naturally fermented in pinewood vats and is then double distilled in copper pot stills.
There are aged variations of this. The Reposado is aged for 6 months in ex-bourbon barrels. Their Añejo is also aged in American white oak for 12 months.
Something I should also mention is that Yuu Baal is an artisanal Mezcal (“artesenal” in Spanish). Mezcal is mainly classified into three classifications: Mezcal, Mezcal Artesanal & Mezcal Ancestral. Mezcal bottles with just “Mezcal” on them are the ones made through industrial processes such as continuous stills and autoclaves. Artisanal Mezcal can only use clay pot stills. Artesanal Mezcal only uses clay pot stills, and no step of the process involves machines.
Yuu Baal Espadin – Review
48% ABV. Batch YJ09-18. One of 6480 bottles. $32.99 from K&L.
On the nose: This is an aroma bomb. It starts by giving off light aromas of pink peppercorn, pomelo, grilled pineapple rind, bell peppers and cinnamon sticks that increase in intensity. The strength of the ethanol increases with the scents above, but caps off after I smell the cinnamon. At the end are subtle and brief aromas of ripe papaya, cantaloupe, pomegranate and atis/sugar-apple.
In the mouth: A bit less coherent than the nose, but the heat is less pronounced here. I get a light assortment of sweet, floral, citrus and spices. I can briefly taste an alternating wave of pink grapefruit, cinnamon syrup, pink peppercorn, pineapple rind, atis/sugar-apple, honeydew melon and sal de gusano (Mezcal worm salt), but not salt itself. Just the spices used to make it. The sweeter notes like sugar-apple, honeydew and pineapple rind come together at the end to form a rounder texture.
A two-faced Mezcal. But I like it. I find this to be more coherent on the nose. The different aromas are calmer and more patient with how they present themselves. It’s just as complex as the mouth but I got different flavors in the mouth.
The mouth is less coherent but more complex. There are more layers. That said, it’s like this Mezcal doesn’t want to wait; it insists on showing everything off ASAP.
What I taste keeps on changing after each sip. Maybe this is something not everyone can like if they prefer an easy and consistent drink, but I like how each sip keeps on grabbing my attention because of how much it shifts as you go.
Overall, a very good Mezcal for the price, considering Del Maguey Vida from K&L is $39, and Del Maguey Vida is the benchmark Mezcal for most Mezcal drinkers due to how affordable the expression is and how available the brand is as compared to others.
Photo Courtesy of Atoda Madre’s owner.