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Kimo Sabe and Xicaru Mezcals

After having that heavenly El Jorgorio Jabali, a few hellish weeks of being extra busy with both jobs followed. Now that the storm is over, it’s time to return to Earth with more standard mezcals.

The rise of a category’s popularity is almost always brought about by passionate folks. Because these passionate entities tend to prefer to not sacrifice quality just to sell more quantity, there will always be money men who will seek to capitalize on the trend via selling ersatz products.

Mezcal is not exempted from this. Like in other categories, some brands will throw money around in an attempt to make an appeal to the casual consumers who are also enticed by the trend. Being half a world away from the US, it’s hard for me to keep track and find out which unfamiliar brands are worth exploring. So, I thought I’d try to get a better look at the landscape by trying brands that are unknown in my part of the world. Taking advantage of my relatives coming over from California, I asked them to bring me bottles of mezcal. These are a couple of the joven (unaged) bottles they brought me.

Kimo Sabe is a mezcal brand created by the father-daughter team of Jim and Ashley Walsh in 2015. According to their company Linkedin page, they own their own distillery and 400 hectares of agave and source agave from other farmers.

Kimo Sabe Joven Albedo – Review

43% ABV. USD $29.99 from Hi Time Wines.

Color: Transparent.

On the nose: I immediately get aromas of aggressive and bold aromas of smoke, asparagus, and grilled green bell peppers. Behind those are lighter aromas of black peppers, agave, salinity, orange peel and burnt veggies.

In the mouth: There’s a noticeable amount of heat, but not a lot of flavor. I get subtle tastes of agave sweetness, grilled and burnt peppers, and smoke. The texture here is also very thin.

Conclusions:

The aggressive smoky flavor and the saline aroma I get from this reminds me of the industrial mezcal I reviewed before. This industrial mezcal is the one with the worm in the bottle that were initially sold to tourists before the boom of artisanal mezcal.

After doing a bit more digging, I learned through Mezcal Reviews that Kimo Sabe is triple distilled. The first two distillations were done in industrial stainless steel stills, while the third was done in a copper still. There’s nothing wrong with utilizing triple distillation. But upon reading about the industrial steel stills, it immediately made sense why it reminded me of the mezcal with the worm I had before. FYI, industrial steel stills tend to be used to make vodka and cleaning alcohol.

I find this to be inoffensive, which means this is not a horrible mezcal, but it lacks character to make it memorable and interesting. The lack of texture and flavor make me think it’s (intentionally) flawed. Something like this will be better suited to those new and unfamiliar to mezcal and want a smooth intro to the category.
But, I wouldn’t recommend getting attached to this brand. There are better mezcals out there at a similar price which really taste like mezcal. To me, it’s one of those brands made by money men. If I could adjust my scoring of the other industrial mezcal, I’d change it to a 3 also.

In a desperate attempt to finish this bottle, I’ve been drinking it in easy cocktails such as Palomas. I’d also share it with people who are just getting into mezcal.

Score: 3/10

In Zapotec, Xicaru means beautiful. It’s a mezcal brand that was created by mezcalero Fernando Santibañez. Apparently, he uses recipes he learned from his grandmother to make small batch mezcal. The palenque (mezcal distillery) is located in Matatlán, Oaxaca.

Unlike Kimo Sabe, I like this brand’s website because it directly tells you the production process without going through heavy marketing rubbish. Agave meant for mezcal being cooked in conical stone ovens and being naturally fermented in pine wood vats are not new to me. But, it’s refreshing to find out what materials were used to cook the agave with; because the traditional way of cooking agave for mezcal production is a slow cook, the materials used for it can affect the agave’s flavor, which can affect the taste of the mezcal. After all, mezcal’s smokiness comes from this roasting process. In the case of Xicaru’s silver, mesquite and ocote (native Mexican fire starter wood) are used in the conical oven.

Xicaru Mezcal Silver – Review

40.5% ABV. USD $29.99 from Total Wine.

Color: Clear.

On the nose: I immediately get bold aromas of roasted agave and pineapple skin. The roasted agave note also lingers throughout the experience. They’re accompanied by mild smoke and green bell peppers. There’s a subtle spicy, sweet, and earthy aroma at the back. I think this is mesquite.

In the mouth: I get a mild mix of sweet, earthy, and peppery flavors. Among them, I taste roasted and fermented agave. There’s also bits of green and yellow bell peppers to go with the pepperiness.

Conclusions:

Compared to the Kimo Sabe, this is way better. But when compared to the vast world of mezcal brands, this is mediocre. There’s just enough flavor and texture in this to warrant being remembered a bit. But I’d use this more as a decent mixer.

I wonder what this would be like if the ABV were higher. But, I doubt the improvement would be huge. I’ve had Herencia de Sanchez mezcal which is 42%; it’s leagues better than this.

Score: 5/10

Overall Conclusions:

Mexican-owned, or not. Small scale production, or not. At the surface, there’s no foolproof way to find out whether a mezcal will be good or not. The best way is to try different brands and SKUs yourself. Ideally, look for a bar near you where you can order different glasses of mezcal, so you don’t need to commit to full bottles.

CategoriesMezcal

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