Bar Beat

Heavy Metl Imports Brings Two New Lines of Mezcal to the Pastry War

This week, the Pastry War held a special “break-even” event —  to promote the launch of two new brands of mezcal. Heavy Metl Imports, run by William Scanlan, has just begun to import mezcal from Mezcal Real Minero and Rey Campero.

Between the two labels, nine types of mezcal were available at the event. We got to taste them, make comparisons and speak with Scanlan briefly on the topic.

I’m still relatively new to mezcal, but what impresses me about agave spirits, more than any other, is the sheer variety of the spirit. Aromas, flavors, texture and finish can vary widely based on species, production methods and growth location — which accounts for both the local environment, as mezcal carries a terroir in a way most spirits don’t, and whether the agave is cultivated or wild — even the very soil — and how much of it is accomplished without barrel aging. And then, of course, there are the distillations made with spices and other ingredients, most notably mezcal pechuga (I’ll get to that in a bit).

Rey Camparo had five distillations:

  • Espadin is the most common species used in mezcal, and Rey Camparo’s was a light, easy-to-drink one;
  • Their Jabali was from a wild-grown plant. This mezcal had a sweeter, fruity nose, and a softer, almost buttery mouthfeel,
  • The other wild-agave mezcal, the Mexicano, had a more clean nose but an earthy, rich finish unlike the others,
  • The Tobala was more similiar to the Jabali in profile, but with a lighter body,
  • The Madre Cuishe had the most bite of Rey Camparo’s mezcals, but it was complemented by a body rich in flavors, with earthiness and dark berries standing out the most.

    Mezcal Real Minero had four mezcals available at the tasting, including a mezcal pechuga made from Espadin. Mezcal pechuga typically involves adding fruits and spices to the still and suspending a chicken breast inside, traditionally done to absorb some of the flavors and keep the flavoring mix from dominating the spirit.

  • Real Minero’s mezcal pechuga was sweet and smooth, with a richer body and range of flavor than the others; of all the spices, cinnamon and raisins stood out the most on the nose.
  • The Largo, a wild mezcal, had the most bite of anything I tried, but this was balanced by a very spicy set of flavors;
  • The Barril was easier to drink, with a buttery nose, a pleasant mouthfeel without much burn, and a nice, roasted finish;
  • And the Arroqueno was particularly nice, with a complex nose that evoked buttered popcorn, the smoothest feel and finish of any of the mezcals, and hints of baker’s chocolate on the aftertaste.

Scanlan hopes to eventually import some more exotic brands to the States, but he wanted his first mezcal imports to establish a reputation for quality. So he went to Oaxaca, the state that produces the large majority of mezcal, and chose what he called “the best of the best.” He hopes to eventually import exotic mezcals from more unique locations, such as Guerrero and Michoacán. These mezcals certainly do a fine job establishing a high standard of quality, and even if you missed the event on Monday, the Pastry War will continue to stock them.

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Nath Pizzolatto