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Drink Review: Mezcal Vago Espadin

This release is made using Espadin agave mezcal made by Aquilino Garcia Lopez and bottled under the Vago brand. A lighter style of mezcal with notes of anise, plantain and caramel.

Mezcal Vago Espadin Review:

Colour: Pale gold yellow

Nose: Wet earth, agave, black olives and meaty anise.

Palate: Mild, sweet and balanced. Notes of olives, leather, green herbs, honey and watermelon.

Finish: Long, a touch of smoke at the end.

Comments: This a lovely mezcal suitable for aperitifs. It is classically styled and delivers everything you would hope to find from a good mezcal.

Score:

Nose: Wet earth, agave, black olives and meaty anise. Mild, sweet and balanced. Notes of olives, leather, green herbs, honey and watermelon. Long, a touch of smoke at the end.: This a lovely mezcal suitable for aperitifs. It is classically styled and delivers everything you would hope to find from a good mezcal.

Mezcals are gaining in popularity in the UK and in the past few years there has been a big increase in the number of brands available. One of these newer brands is Vago. The name Vago is derived from the Spanish word ‘vagabond’ or ‘wandering artist’ (you can learn more about the brand’s origin at the end of the review). At the moment Vago mezcal can only be purchased in London at Artes de Mezcal in Shoreditch – but this is set to change early in 2015, so keep an eye out in your local.

The Espadin Vago features clear bottle packaging with a vintage label, finished with a wax seal. The branding is simple and rustic, to reflect the way this mezcal is made.

The nose is rich and fruity; black olives, plantain, anise and caramel. It reminds me of prunes, nuts and a bit of old leather bound books.

The palate is beautiful. Smooth, full and rich with sweet caramel, banana, green herbs and notes of olives and anise. The finish is realistic and long, with a gentle touch of smoke and herbs.

This is a genuine artisan crafted mezcal. It smacks of the earth and is simple and honest. It is great to see a lighter mezcal with some serious depth.

It is a touch weaker than I would usually drink, but I had no problem finishing it in a couple of hours. The flavours are well balanced and satisfying. A very genuine mezcal that shows off this category at its best.

As mentioned above, the Vago mezcal brand is named after the Spanish word ‘vagabond’ or ‘wandering artist’. Aquilino is a vagabond of sorts. He is a wandering mezcalero, looking for good agave and producing this wonderful mezcal.

Mezcal can only be manufactured by a native Mexican artisan, taking care to only use wild agave. This makes it different from tequila which is produced in a similar way but can be made with a much wider variety of agave.

Just as a quick point of distinction – this is a mezcal, not a tequila. I think the UK market confuses the two (and so do some brands in their marketing) but there are obvious differences. It is made with a different plant, it’s made in a different place in Mexico, it features a different way of agave production and uses different methods. The origins of tequila are unknown, whereas mezcal has a very defined history.

It’s really easy to understand mezcal. If you like tequila you’ll probably like mezcal too, and if you don’t like tequila you probably won’t like mezcal, but you should still give it a try.

Vago was kind enough to send me a bottle to review and the views are my own.

The list is all about balance and quality. The agave flavours will blow you away, they are so well defined and showcase everything that’s great about this distilled drink from Mexico. The presentation of their drinks is excellent and they are all carefully chosen from producers that are dedicated and passionate. They pride themselves on doing things the way they want to. If the timing is wrong for a brand or producer, they will say no. In a market of big brands and big money – this is something I really respect.

Aquilino should sleep well knowing that his tiny contribution to the wider market has such a positive impact in the London mezcal scene. And, if you want to visit, he takes time to teach people about the importance of his craft. He is a true artist.

A base level of appreciation and respect for handmade crafts is showing in the UK and it’s great to see people supporting these kinds of products. Nobody really knows what is going to be the next big thing, but I get a lot of pleasure out of experiencing and trying these artisanal and specialist products. This is a quiet and niche category of drinks and it is a much simpler process than what you see with spirits.

Written by Mark Adams

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