From the bartender’s corner – Mezcal #3: Ilegal Mezcal Joven
Region: This Mezcal, like everyone I have tried so far, is also from Oaxaca state.
Agave: This is 100% espadin (specifically anguvstifolia hau).
Roasting: The “pinas” of the espadin agave are slashed and then roasted in underground pits. The pits are lined with river stones to keep the heat in and wood is lit for 5-7 days. The company claims that the wood is bought from certified sellers to avoid deforestation in the state.
Smashing: The slushy pinas are then smashed in the “tahona” by a horses pulling the millstone.
Fermentation: It is then left in vats made of pine wood for 7-10 days for the fermentation process to complete.
Distilling: Like the very first mezcal I had reviewed, the Ilegal Mezcal is also distilled in stainless steel first and then in copper vessels.
This is the Joven version – so it is not aged. It is bottled as a colorless alcohol and sold. They also have the reposado and anejo versions which are aged and therefore, brownish in color. The version available in America is 40% alcohol by volume.
There are stories about how this mezcal found its way out of Oaxaca mostly by smuggling into a particular bar in Guatemala. Of course, now it is done legally.
The petrichor smell is inescapable. The more you let it stay in your palate, the more you will exhale the earthy tones. Once the bite settles in, you can taste some sweetness in the taste.
Tried it chilled one day and one day on the rocks. Rocks is ruled out. It messes up the mezcal. But instead of neat at room temperature, the chilled one was more enjoyable to me.