For years, the mythical spirit mezcal (also spelled mescal) was considered to be Mexican moonshine and often associated with cheap, fiery liquor housing a worm. While the worm was merely a marketing gimmick employed by certain producers, mezcal lives on and is growing in popularity across the country thanks to companies like Del Maguey ($40-$200), who offers a range of excellent products.
Del Maguey’s collection of mezcals is distilled by individual producers in small, remote villages scattered throughout Oaxaca. Giving credit to the craftsmen, the producing village is named on each label. The spirits range from the sweet and smoky Crema de Mezcal to the San Luis del Rio, which is very spicy with lots of citrus. The crown jewel in the Del Maguey portfolio is the Pechuga, from the village of Santa Catarina Minas. This rare mezcal is made in small clay pots and triple distilled. For the third distillation, fruits, almonds, uncooked white rice and a whole chicken breast (seriously) are introduced to the mezcal. The result is one of the most interesting spirits around, with flavors of fruit, spice and salt, all wrapped in a soft and smoky package. It doesn’t taste like chicken, so it’s not for everyone; hide this bottle during parties and reserve it for only your most discerning friends.
Buy Now: $40-$200