The meeting of the minds with some Mezcal
Ron Cooper, Mexican installation artist, has brought the UK Mezcal – and we will not be looking back now we have discovered this divine spirit, produced from the heart of the maguey plant found in Mexico. Thursday’s master-class on Del Maguey Mezcal (Amathus) was with him, connoisseur and artist of all things Mezcal.
The tasting was filled with easy-to-follow Mexican instructions and fabulous fire-side stories from the man himself, Ron Cooper, as we sampled five of the very best Mezcals: Vida, Chichicapa, Tobala, Minero and Pechuga.
Chichicapa comes from a low valley, 6000 feet above sea-level, and surrounded by rolling mountain ranges. The taste is cheeky, and the first sip was sweet, hot and spicy but as you drink a little more from your terracotta dish you feel the flavour of this 46% alcoholic drink, which is made ever the sweeter by tales of energy from the universe, and Ron Cooper who asks everyone to say in Aptec: “To your health, to the health of your friends and the planet.”
After sipping, I spoke to Georgie Knight, member of the committee of London’s Slow Food, who was delighted to see another beverage being produced in the ethos of good, clean and fair; another reason to love Mezcal.
Minero feels clay like and there is a distinct lack of copper: it is more acidic, which makes you salivate and a bit hungry – a great aperitif. Vida was named after Ron Cooper’s granddaughter, and is a little bit of sunshine which is great for making cocktails, and of course we had to sample it in the name of fair reporting; yummy like a smoking margarita.
Saving the best for last, the final two Mezcals, Tobala and Pechuga, both are delicious. Tobala is made from plants that only grow in the shade and take 15 years to grow – and then produce only 1000 bottles (just a touch rare). It has a psychotropic characteristic, and fills your mouth with the flavour of mushrooms, cheese, grass and minerals, made from the tiny heart of the maguey plant that grows in granite.
“Pechuga” means chicken breast, and is a favourite; at 49% proof it also packs a punch. The flavours of apple, pineapple and banana float through your mouth, and as you learn how the plants are roasted in the sun a squeeze of cinnamon bark is added, making this more aromatic than gin.
Everyone who was anyone in the beverage business was there: Decanter, Matthew Smith and Clayton Smith from Hedonism Wines and tastings connoisseur Keegan all agreed (firstly that I should have got to them before the Mezcal, but also) that this is the best on the market.
When I asked Ron Cooper about the future of Mezcal, we were given a unique insight: “Unfortunately and fortunately for my producers Mezcal is being discovered; unfortunately people are jumping in for profit and it is important that I support the artist and help them to be deserved and recognised.”
Paula de Burgh
Amathus drinks are the exclusive importers of Mezcal, to check out the drinks or buy some click here.