Lamparillo, Reposado and Añejo Aged Espadín
This box sampled its first aged mezcal for the club. It was a polarizing choice and one that I turned my nose up to. I’m not a fan of aged tequila. Most of the aged mezcals I’ve come across are industrial, big brand types of bottles, I’ve never felt the need to try them. Consequently, I sat on these flasks for some time up until the big ranking club meeting.
Full details on these batches as well as how to subscribe to the club can be found over at Maguey Melate and Mezcal Reviews.
Maguey Melate Lamparillo 47.1% – Gilberto Roldán Quezada
The nose is a bounty of berries on a self-pick weekend. Strawberries and blueberries. Hay, straw, beeswax, and a bit of honey even. Even after a few minutes of rest, It’s a wide swath of fresh fruits, veg, herbs, and textiles. Sweet potatoes, fennel, baby butter lettuce, and caramelized onions. Agave nectar, aloe, cactus fruit. There’s a light bitter and herbal green tea note as well. The pleasant balance of sweet vegetables and fruits fades over time. More earthy and funky aromas like palm hearts, artichokes, and carrots along with lime and melon rinds. Lastly, a woodsy lumber spice like fragrant sandalwood or hickory.
A soft floral note of fruit blossoms on the palate. Delicate but intensifying. Starchy vegetables – Yuca, yams, pumpkin, or squash. The fruitier notes on the nose become a wooded blooming orchard. A touch of juniper and pine. Salted grits and buttered toast. Green elements of alfalfa and rocket lettuce. A perfume touch of jasmine and lavender. Mineral spring water with added calcium and sodium.
The finish reminds me much of Derrumbes SLP – raw jalapeño. Peppery and bright vegetal notes. Fruity mango spice rub. The wood elements finalize themselves on the finish with a much more dominant tone. Pinewood and coniferous needles. Wood bark and wet firewood. Salty and savory miso powder. Familiar vegetables – Bell peppers, cucumbers, and underripe tomatoes. Green olives and pickle brine. Tannic and metallic finish with pinewood chips and graphite, like chewing on your pencil in elementary school.
This is a fantastic expression and a gem bottled by Maguey Melate. I love the texture and balance of flavors. It is such a flavor diverse, yet balanced mezcal. Your senses are put to the test with each sip, allowing you to explore for as long as you’d like.
Maguey Melate Reposado 42.3% – Pedro Santiago Martinez
8-month barrel aged Espadín in “decades old” 200 liter barrels.
The nose is a familiar mellow, faded oak aroma you’d find in many reposado tequilas. Vanillas with a lot of green agave notes. Parsnips, sprouts, raw potato, and a bit of artichoke heart. Very light and unassuming.
Dried lumber and harsher alcohols on the palate. Dried chilies with that earthy, funky oak note. Decaying, fallen trees. Mushrooms and mosses. Wet bricks, clay, and well water. Very much a wet oak and forest floor vegetation flavor.
Very surprising turn on the finish as it’s actually quite enjoyable. The vanilla is more distinct and characteristic with some soft floral notes. Pine trees and damp garden beds. The final lasting tasting note however is a reminder of fetid oak that becomes intrusive to the experience.
The oak here detracts from the underlying spirit for me. The agave notes are overwhelmed with flavors that just don’t seem to belong anywhere. I’m not a fan of reposado for this very reason. Give the spirit time to age and develop more from the tired oak cask instead. This reposado just gets stuck in the middle of conflicting flavors.
Maguey Melate Añejo 42.3% – Pedro Santiago Martinez
3-year barrel aged Espadín in the same inherited wooden barrels. These barrels were used for generations to transport mezcal for sale.
The difference is astounding on the nose. Wet vegetation aroma but now the vanillas and caramels are much more refined. Light peppercorn and chili peppers. Oaky, but not tannic. Soft floral dryer sheets. Honey, brittle, and hard caramels. The agave is a bit more masked now through the dank wood notes. The espadín is more forward than the cask itself. Touch of raw coffee beans and a very mild molasses note.
The palate is a wonderful sweet corn and candied yams flavor. Asparagus, roasted brussels sprouts, and char broiled sweet potatoes. Slightly smoky chipotle and anaheim peppers. Agave and cask are more in harmony on the palate. Nutty sweetness of hazelnuts and cashews. Musty, dank, briney oyster mushrooms. Carroway and candied fennel seeds. Metallic cast iron and a slate minerality.
A wonderful agave forward finish. The oak follows with an added complexity that is pleasant and complimentary. Dried lumber and textiles. Black olives, bell peppers, sugar snap peas, and lemongrass. Sage, thyme, juniper, and eucalyptus. A fruity element pops up with honeydew melon and orange peels. A smoldering oak flavor builds like the burnt ear on a fresh loaf of bread. Long grasses and freshly cut lawn rough edge. Dry, sharp black tea notes leave a satisfying finish.
I was inspired to look at this review differently after listening to an interview with Fresh Air’s movie critic Justin Chang. Going into what might certainly be an uninteresting movie viewing and looking for what’s flawed, he instead looks for what was exemplary from the movie.
This añejo expression I was searching for adequate notes expecting a flop. I found myself digging for incredible aromas and flavors in the spirit. This is good. Possibly great even, depending on your oak preferences in agave spirits.
Maguey Melate specialized in weird and unusual expressions and I’m glad they included this selection in their club bottlings.