San Juan del Rio, Oaxaca Mezcal
When I opened this sample box I was curious and a bit more confused. I have very rarely consumed or purchased bottles of certified agave. I have a go-to inexpensive mixing bottle for cocktails but most of my collection is uncertified “Destilado de Agave”. Quality mezcal is getting increasingly easier to purchase in my area so I don’t have to rely on large brand labels from my local ABC.
Definitely outside of my typical mezcal bottle or sample review but I have given them the same care and attention I would normally.
Casa Manglar’s agave is estate grown, collected in the wild, or purchased on the open market. It is produced by two separate palenques, tahona crushed, twice copper distilled, and all bottled at the same uniform 45% ABV. No further information is given on their website and details seem unclear. Mezcal reviews lists Humberto Juan as the mezcalero with a Norma Oficial Mexicana of NOM-O511X.
Casa Manglar Espadín
Lot: CM-E-0821 Bottle: #867 45%
Citrus and agave forward nose. Fresh lime zest, mineral water, and some pleasant herbal green elements. Some barnyard hay flavors come out with a bit of air. Saline and bandaids. Reserved and safe palatable nose.
On the palate, it’s like a flat lemon/lime seltzer. Simple flavors with your first sip. After you get a bit of the earthy, woody finish, each sip has a bit more complexity. Still very unremarkable.
The finish is the best aspect of this mezcal. Some chili and lime zest. Calcium, earth, and wet gravel notes. Some woodsy elements bring a nice astringency to the citrus and capsaicin kick.
If not for the finish, I would write this espadín off entirely. It’s not just a safely composed spirit but boring. Knowing how well espadín can be, this disappoints me even for a bottle targeted for mixing in cocktails.
Casa Manglar Madrecuixe
Lot: CM-M-0821 Bottle: #377 45%
The nose reminds me of the holidays. Lots of fruity notes – plum, cranberry, dried apples. Baking spices. Clove oranges and cassia cinnamon. Calcium-rich water and metallic aromas. Iron, copper, and tin. Warm, sun-soaked flip flop. Lastly, a tiny bit of anise.
Very briny, sea salt flavor on the palate. Unpleasant at first that takes time to acquire a taste for. Driftwood, seaweed, beach air, dune grasses. Fennel, peppercorn, and newspaper.
The baking spices return on the finish. Chai, Chinese five spice, wood bark. Again a paper flavor. Chalk and its associated weird, dry texture. Astringency builds on the finish like oversteamed vegetables. This is salty, not savory.
Very nearly unpalatable. It’s like drinking a mouthful of the Atlantic ocean. This is not balanced at all and the nose is its sole redeeming characteristic.
Casa Manglar Espadín + Madrecuixe
Lot: CM-ME-1 Bottle: #1164 45%
The nose brought on this fall bonfire memory. Herb butter and toast. Wood-scented candles – rosemary, sandalwood, pine but as fuel in a fireplace. Saline – seems like a theme with this distillate at this point. Finally this poolish almost sourdough aroma.
The palate is very gin-like in flavor. Pinecones, juniper, conifer trees, pinewood. Toasted, smoking rosemary. Slate and mineral water. Onion and dried garlic powder. Everything bagel seasoning.
A balanced finish that is enjoyable. Herbal dill and spring onions. Woody and dry but pleasantly so. Burnt matches, sulfur, iron, and copper.
This ensemble is thankfully better together than its individual parts. The woody, juniper-like flavors would be great in a Ranch Water. As a sipper, it’s just ok.
Casa Manglar Tobala
Lot: CM-T-0821 Bottle: #666 45%
Summer melon aromas on the nose of salted watermelon and citrus. Sage leaves, sandalwood, and grilled aromatics – onions, herbs, roasted agave. Sweet and savory nose. Lemongrass, celery hearts. Raw sugar cane and agave nectar.
Sweet, ripe honeydew and cane sugar flavors on the palate. Caramelized onions and grilled vegetables. Floral elements of bee pollen, honeysuckle, or other edible flowers. Almond extract and cinnamon bark. Wood chips, fresh cut ply, and plastic bags of mulch.
Herbaceous bitter finish. A tinge of salinity with a pickled watermelon rind flavor. Grass and hay flavors dominate for a short bit. Lumberyard or garden center after rain. Mushrooms and topsoil.
This is the first bottle that I can recommend to sip. The flavors are very good and that salinity works well here with the fruity melon and citrus. With all of grilled veg and watermelon, it’s a summer cookout in a glass.
Casa Manglar Espadín + Tobala
Lot: CM-ET-0821 Bottle: #829 45%
The more tart and sour notes of the espadín come through on the nose. Dried out limes, overripe citrus, or extracts. Foraged, sauteed mushrooms and intense umami richness. Dried spices and mossy, damp forest.
Similar summer flavors with grilled lemons and charcoal. Cast iron seared burnt ends. Hearty and savory flavors. Onions, roasted carrots, garlic, and tomatoes. A well-seasoned steak. Straightforward palate flavors and delicious.
Kindling smoky finish. Grilled meat, rosemary butter. Tyme. The savory notes hold true from nose to finish. Simple again but that focused flavor composition is satisfying.
I found this to be delicious but simpler than the Tobala. I enjoy the flavors and think they harmonize well with one another. The bright citrus of the espadín brings out this meaty, umami note of the Tobala and I think it’s wonderful.
This was a fun and interesting spread. The variety was incredible. I didn’t expect to dislike something entirely but also find a winner in the same lot. To taste that “hand of the creator” and try multiple varieties from the same producer. Getting to taste clear evidence of terrior across the bottle range was also unique.
The scale is definitely tipped towards the Tobala for me. Most were perfectly palatable but just lack interesting characters. For instance, the Espadín. Even in a cocktail, I don’t think the flavors could hold up to dilution and would be overpowered by citrus.
Only one bottle I can recommend to purchase and that’s the Tobala. It surprised and delighted me. The Espadín + Tobala is also a good option but maybe I’m just a little more sensitive to the salty notes though.