Best Tequila and Mezcal for Cinco de Mayo

Best Tequila and Mezcal for Cinco de Mayo

Harvesting Agave
Harvesting Agave for Tequila

Cinco de Mayo is the official kick off of “Tequila Season” (not that tequila needs a season, it’s great year around). To help you pick the best tequila for your celebration, we’ve pulled together excerpts from almost all our tequila and mezcal reviews we’ve done over the years, all in one place for easy reference as your guide for the Best Tequila and Mezcal for Cinco de Mayo.

If you are looking for our top picks we heartily recommend the following tequilas and mezcal:

Drink Spirits Recommended Tequila (alphabetical order):

Drink Spirits Recommended Mezcal (alphabetical order)

  • Mezcal Alpus Santa Anna Del Rio
  • Del Maguey Tobala
  • Del Maguey Pechuga
  • Del Maguey San Louis Del Rio
  • Mezcal Marca Negra
  • Piedre Almas Dobadaan
  • Piedre Almas Espadin

Tequila Reviews:

1800 Silver Tequila
This tequila has a very sweet and thick nose with notes of vanilla, candied pear, and roasted agave. On the taste it’s cinnamon and vanilla, mixed with white pepper and huge roasted agave notes. There are some subtle chalky and earthy notes which round it out. The finish is long, cool and sweet. We were shocked after our blind tasting that a $25 tequila scored so well with our tasters, but that’s exactly what 1800 Silver is, a well priced, sweet and affable tequila.

Alderete Tequila   – The nose on the Alderete is light and slightly spicy. There’s an etherial quality to the nose that is incredibly inviting. The entry is silky soft and smooth with just a slight sweet quality to it. The core of the Alderete Tequila unfolds in the midpalate with a unique herbal quality that’s absolutely seductive. It grabs a little heat towards the finish, enough to leave your palate tingling. Alderente is an exceptional and unique tequila.

Ambhar Platinum Tequila  – Ambar is a distinctively different tequila. Made from a blend of agave plants from both the highlands and the lowlands, Ambhar Platiunm Tequila is distilled five times (vs the tradition 2x) to create a tequila which leans closer to being more crisp and subtle than most tequilas. Ambhar Platinum Tequila has a nice light peppery nose. The entry is very crisp and slightly sweet with a nice soft peppery spice. There’s a slight herbaciousness under the pepper and it maintains a lot of its flavor through a fairly long finish. Once the Abhar finishes it leaves a nice cool and pleasant feeling on the palate.

Arrogante Blanco Tequila  – Impulsora Rombo made its name as the original producer of Sammy Hagar’s Cobo Wabo Tequila, but the brand was sold to Sky Spirits it moved production to another facility. This gave the Impulsora team an opportunity to regroup and look at making their own tequila. Arrogante has big ripe fresh agave on the nose with a slight undercurrent of white pepper. The entry is soft with a nice mouthfeel and strong fresh agave flavor. It quickly opens up with a wide range of spice flavors including pepper, allspice and even some woodsy cinnamon notes. Arrogante picks up just a slight amount of heat at the end of the mid palate and has a long slightly salty finish.

Tequila ArteNOM Seleccion de 1580 Blanco Tequila  –   The nose of ArteNOM 1580 Blanco is reflective of the high altitude grown agave, with rich roasted agave notes in the nose along with ripe pineapple, salt, light cinnamon, subtle green  jalapeño pepper, and dill. The entry captures the roasted agave from the nose which integrates rich roasted agave flavor, ripe pineapple, and banana with spicy white pepper and a touch of jalapeño. It’s a good amount of flavor and complexity right out of the gate and the flavors are balanced very well.  In the midpalate, some of the sweetness from the entry subsides and we see an increase in the white pepper spice as well as a boost in jalapeno and the introduction of cinnamon spice. The banana note from the entry is still very much there, but in the midpalate it’s much more of a supporting flavor. Things also start to really dry out in the midpalate and we get a little lime added to the mix as we head toward the finish. The finish is fairly dry and slightly spicy. It flirts with being overly dry but it feels more like a stylistic choice rather than a flaw. ArteNom 1580 Blanco Tequila does a nice job of balancing the rich, sweet fruit notes  you often see in higher elevation grown agave with some of the spicier and slightly vegetal tones.

Tequila ArteNOM Seleccion de 1414 Reposado Tequila –   Even though it only spent a few months in casks, the wood notes from the cask are apparent on the nose with roasted agave mixing with strong cinnamon, light oak, and an undercurrent of vanilla. Also in the nose is some nice agave related spice, white pepper, dill, and touch of habanero. The entry for ArteNom 1414 Reposado is slightly spicy, with cinnamon and white pepper leading the charge. Tequila ArteNOM’s blanco was all about balancing the sweet and fruity notes with spice, whereas with the reposado it’s all about balancing out the spice with lightly sweet notes, with the cinnamon and white pepper supported with roasted agave and vanilla. In the midpalate we get the addition of some nice citrus with lime added to the mix. The midpalate continues to be a showcase for the warm spices in this reposado, especially the cinnamon which is now backed by clove, white pepper, and hot peppers.The finish is long and spicy with white pepper, cinnamon, hot pepper, and clove lingering on the palate. As with the blanco, ArteNOM’s 1414 reposado is a tequila that’s all about balance, with a presentation of barrel impact that serves to support and enhance the base tequila, not to cover it up. There’s some nice restraint at work here, too – it would have been easy to ramp the spice to make this a bolder tequila, but the commitment to balance really pays off with a reposado tequila that is excellent.

Tequila ArteNOM Seleccion de 1146 Anejo Tequila –   Dark gold in color, the ArteNOM 1146 Anejo Tequila has picked up a great deal of color from its time in barrel. Given its color you’d expect the nose to be much oakier than it is, but this is ArteNOM and everything they bottle is about balance. Rather than dominate the nose, the solid oak is the supporting platform for the other aromas in the mix which include roasted agave. cinnamon, caramel, almond, and raisin. The entry for the ArteNOM 1146 Anejo Tequila is delicious, bringing together many of the elements from the nose in balance with the roasted agave, caramel, and raisin supported by toasted oak, cinnamon, almond, and white pepper. Some of the richer notes from the entry subside a bit in the midpalate to make way for a bit of herbaceousness including oregano, jalapeño pepper, and salt. Here we also get a touch of ginger and a boost in the white pepper and oak. The finish is long and captures the nice spiciness of this anejo tequila with oak and pepper lingering for quite some time. As with their reposado, ArteNOM shows immense reverence for the value of balance in tequila and does a superb job of presenting an anejo tequila that captures the impact of tequila’s time in barrel without letting that barrel completely dominate the spirit.

Tequila Avion Silver – has clear aromas of fresh agave with an undercurrent of black pepper and a hint of hot pepper. The entry is soft and slightly sweet with a superb mouthfeel which is neither too thick nor too thin. Instead of a pepper kick in the mid palate, Avion has a pepper ramp with intensifying black and hot pepper.  Things get a little spicy at the end of the mid palate with a hint of grapefruit rind. The finish is nice, long, and super clean.

Tequila Avion Reposado - is aged six months in Jack Daniel’s Barrels which helps give it a sweet nose, and adds vanilla and caramel to the mix along with fresh agave and clear soft oak. The entry takes on a subtle influence from the bourbon barrel with vanilla and caramel right off the bat. These notes mix extremely well with the fresh agave. Things ramp up in the mid palate, and the pepper and oak come together in perfect union. The finish is wonderfully spicy and much longer than the silver. It also has a superb cool quality to the finish. This is an exceptional reposado.

Tequila Avion Anejo –  is aged two years in ex-bourbon barrels. Oak spice dominates the nose but it’s balanced out with fantastic agave and caramel notes. The entry shows off the oak well but not intensely. The oak is immediately balanced by agave, vanilla, and caramel. The pepper starts off soft and builds sublimely. Black pepper, agave, vanilla, caramel, and oak are joined toward the end of the mid palate by cinnamon and maple. No heat, no bite, and a long, soft, peppery but cool finish. This is not an aggressive anejo. The goal here is clearly balance and it achieves it superbly.

Tequila Avion Reserva 44 Extra Anejo Tequila  – dark gold in color, Tequila Avion Reserva 44 has an enticingly rich and complex nose. Deep caramel notes intermingle with black and green pepper, cinnamon, clove, fresh cut oak, aged oak, pickled jalapeño, milk chocolate, and mint. It’s pretty amazing the number of different aromas in Tequila Avion’s Reserva 44′s nose and how well these aromas are integrated. That symphony of aroma becomes a symphony of flavor on the palate. In the entry Reserva 44′s sweet notes of caramel and cooked agave quickly make way for the oak and pepper spice. In the midpalate Avion Reserva 44 is everything we’ve come to know and love about Tequila Avion, with spicy black and green pepper extremely well complemented with oak and cinnamon. The sweeter elements from the entry are still there in the midpalate giving the solid spice some nice balance and support. The finish is long, slightly spicy, a little dry, and very flavorful – the kind of finish that makes you want to take another sip.

Don Julio Blanco Tequila – As you nose the Don Julio Blanco Tequila, there’s no mistaking that you’re smelling a highlands tequila. With a bright sweet agave nose and light floral hints backed with light citrus/lime, this blanco tequila is extremely inviting. The entry is very soft and easy with sweet floral notes and light pepper. The fresh agave from the nose is very apparent on the palate and comes together beautifully with the floral and peppery notes. The finish is very nice with a light sweet pepper which tapers out into a nice cool clean mouth. Don Julio Blanco Tequila is a quintessential highland blanco tequila that highlights all the notes that define this terroir. Light, clean and sweet, this eminently drinkable blanco tequila is one of the best.

Tequila Cabeza – While we love to sip tequila neat, one of the great things about tequila is how well it mixes. What better option to use in your margaritas, daisies, and palomas than a tequila built from the ground up by a group of world renowned bartenders? Tequila Cabeza comes from the 86 company and is the love child of Dushan Zaric, who is best known for his time behind the bar at Employees Only in New York, and Simon Ford, one of the most notable spirit brand ambassadors who worked with such iconic brands as Plymouth Gin, Beefeaters, and Absolut Vodka. Tequila Cabeza is all about balance – the soft, sweet agave notes there on the entry are perfectly balanced by pepper spice. We really love the Tequila Cabeza’s finish, which is one of the more flavorful and enjoyable tequila finishes we’ve tasted. As you’d imagine, Tequila Cabeza makes a killer margarita and the liter bottle it’s sold in is perfect for a big Cinco de Mayo party, and is well priced at $34.99. This is great tequila and one we reach for when making tequila cocktails.

Casa Dragones Tequila  – Setting to define the top end of the ultra-premium tequila market, Casa Dragones is a unique joven tequila that brings together a delicately refined platinum tequail with just a touch of extra-anjeo tequila. The color from the extra-anejo is taken out using an ultra-modern filtration process. Casa Dragones Tequila’s subtle floral and citrus aroma with notes of sweet agave is fresh and inviting. Swirling a glass reveals its rich, silky body and long, pronounced legs, which leave a sleek texture on the palate. One sip releases hints of vanilla and spiced undertones balanced with notes of pear for a uniquely smooth taste.

Casa Noble Tequila – While we tend to fall more for highland tequilas, Casa Noble is a lowland tequila that really brings many of the elements together about tequila that we love. Casa Noble Blanco balances sweet agave tones along with softer pepper and adds a beautiful floral note. Casa Noble blanco also captures some of the greener, more vegetal qualities from the fresh, unroasted pinas and brings them into a tequila with superb balance. Moving up to the Casa Noble Reposado, the tequila transforms considerably and picks up a deep chocolate note along with light cinnamon and caramel. It’s a lot different from the blanco but still delicious.  Casa Noble Anejo is less sweet than the reposado and much more spice forward. The chocolate tones from the reposado subside and make way for spicy oak and the return of the soft pepper notes. Casa Noble Blanco retails for around $36, Reposado $45, and Anejo is $50.

Clase Azul Plata The Clase Azul Blanco tequila has a very soft and sweet nose with just a hint of pepper. The sweetness of the nose and the undercurrent of spice come together into a nose that is downright seductive. The nose has no bite or vapor whatsoever. The entry for the Clase Azul Blanco matches the nose perfectly. Lightly sweet, fresh agave leads right into a pepper spice which builds to a moderate level, peaks, and then finishes all without losing a step. The balance between sweet and spice here is sublime, and the finish leaves both the sweet agave and pepper spice in a clear invitation for another sip. A great spirit in a great package is a rare combination, but Clase Azul manages to deliver something really special, and for the tequila connoisseur, something to seek out.

Gran Dovejo Tequila – Many tequilas are singular when it comes to delivering their peppery spice, but not Gran Dovejo. This highland tequila is packed with flavor and blends spicy green pepper notes with more classic pepper tones with just a dash of habenaro spice. Gran Dovejo Blanco has so much complexity and flavor, it’s hard not to dive right back in for another sip moments after you’ve finished your last one. There’s an ethereal quality in spirits called “deliciousness” and Gran Dovejo has it in spades. The Gran Dovejo Reposado adds some lovely oak notes to the mix and enhance a subtle chocolately quality that’s ever so faint in the blanco without losing the beautiful peppery spice. Gran Dovejo Anejo takes everything to the next level with lush cinnamon spice along with deep solid oak. Gran Dovejo never goes too far off in any one direction and manages to maintain both the superb flavors from the blanco and balance them with the strong spice and oak. Gran Dovejo Tequila is priced competitively for a super premium tequila, with the Blanco at $45, Reposado at $50, and Anejo at $55.

Gran Patron Piedra Extra Anejo Tequila  – medium amber in color, the nose on Piedra clearly shows off its time in barrel with a fair amount of oak, cigar box, and clove spice combined with black pepper, clove, and spicy jalapeño pepper. The integration between the oak spice notes and pepper from the tequila is very solid and the two different kinds of spice work very well together. There is also a nice undercurrent of sweet caramel that helps bring it all together. The entry for Patron’s Piedra is a lot less spicy than the nose would suggest, with the sweeter caramel and butterscotch leading things off. It’s not until the midpalate that we really get the spice from the nose with black pepper, clove, and jalapeño pepper joined by cinnamon and light oak. As with the nose, the combination of the different kinds of spices is nice, but here the old cigar box and deeper oak notes really aren’t in play. It’s a combination of sweet caramel and  both oak and pepper spice which defines the finish which is medium length, slightly dry, and fairly pleasant.  The mouthfeel on Patron Piedra is nice, a little more dry than lush, but well balanced with the taste. There’s no question that Patron Piedra is an expertly crafted tequila which manages to maintain the core character of the Patron flavor experience while coming at it with a lot more balance and finesse.

Tequila Ocho Agaves De Rancho Las Pomez (Single Estate) – This tequila starts with a very nice and delicate nose with soft notes of mint and vanilla. It’s cool on the mouth at first and then moves through pepper to sweet. It’s a very focused spirit that plays its notes well.

Tequila Ocho Agaves De Rancho Corrales (Single Estate) – This tequila has a nice platinum tint to it with a thick nose that’s quite vegetal with notes of asparagus, cut grass, vanilla and some hints of leather. The taste is strong white pepper combined with lush sweet undertones. It delivers a very solid mix of sweet and peppery with a finish that lasts a long time.

Siete Leguas Blanco Tequila – With a nice sweet nose the includes vanilla, white sugar, white pepper and mint, this tequila is pleasing from the start. The taste is a nice union of sweet, sour and spicy with white sugar notes, salt and white pepper. The finish is slow and long with a nice combination of white pepper and white sugar. This is a pretty straight forward tequila which is spicy and sweet and would be perfect for mixing in margaritas. It doesn’t quite have the depth for a sipping tequila but its mixing potential is solid.

Siete Leguas Repasado Tequila – A sweet nose with solid agave notes, wet paper and pine nuts, the taste is a nice subtle soft and sweet white pepper with just a hint of parmesan cheese. There’s lots of spice on the tongue without being too fiery. The finish is extremely impressive and it takes a very long time to fade – one of the longest finishes we’ve seen in this category. Expertly crafted with great delivery of flavor and finish.

Siete Leguas Anejo Tequila – A very thin gold / pale yellow color, this anejo is one of the lighter ones we’ve seen. A thick sweet nose with salted caramel, sherry and a small amount of rubber give this anejo a pleasing and interesting start. The taste is white pepper, salt, pear and caramel with lots of heat on the tongue. As with the Siete Leguas Repasado, this Anejo has a terrific long soft peppery finish. Even tasting blind, our panel connected the Siete Leguas Anejo and Repasado as playing the same flavor notes.

Yeyo Ultra Premium Silver Tequila – The nice clean, soft, peppery, sweet nose with some mineral undertones is a lot softer than you’d expect for an 80-proof spirit and it held its nice soft properties even when I swirled it around in my glass (no real strong alcohol vapors). The taste follows the nose pretty closely with sweet peppery tones; it does have some hints of fire but they are extremely well balanced with the sweet and pepper notes. I found it to be fairly buttery and creamy with a very nicely balanced mouthfeel. The finish is long and gradual with nice sweet pepper and some very light spice.

Z Blanco Tequila – A delightfully peppery nose with a mix of white and black pepper backed by slightly spicy bell and jalapeno pepper notes. There’s just a suggestion of briny pickle which brings everything together in a  wonderfully complex and inviting nose. The entry has some real finesse with a soft mouthfeel that has an elegance to it. The flavors unfold in the midpalate with the pepper notes up front, and the vegetal green pepper and spicy jalapeno right behind, along with a slightly sweet, fresh agave note. The spice comes to a peak at the end of the midplate and then gently fades out for a long finish that ultimately finishes clean. It’s hard to capture just how delightful Z Blanco Tequila is. With its inviting nose, delivery of flavor, mouth feel, and finish, it’s one of the best blanco tequilas we’ve tried.

Mezcal Alpus and Del Maguey
Mezcal Alpus and Del Maguey

Mezcal Reviews:

Del Maguey Crema de Mezcal –  Very pale yellow color with a nose of funk, rubber, petrol and walnut, the taste of Crema is unexpectedly heavy and sweet with notes of pure agave, honey, funk and smoke. There’a little heat on the back of the throat that rounds out the experience. The finish is rich, sweet and smokey. Some of our tasters found this to be too sweet while others raved about its taste. It’s a softer and more affordable way to get your feet wet with mezcal but expect to outgrow it in favor of things like the Chichicapa and San Luis del Rio.

Del Maguey San Domingo al Albarradas- If you didn’t know you were drinking mezcal, you wouldn’t know it from nosing this one. An extremely vegetal nose with bright green notes of green onion, bok choy, grapes and vanilla, this mezcal is hot and sweet on the tongue with strong white pepper notes. There are some unique whiskey-like notes along with the heat and it has a very dry and very long finish. The San Domingo al Albarradas is a unique and intriguing entry into the mezcal space – one worth seeking out.

Del Maguey Mezcal Vida –  Mezcal Vida has good funk on the nose combined with sweet dark fruits like dates and raisins. The taste is very funky with nice pepper on the tongue combined with sweet and smokey goodness. There’s a floral undertone and some sour tones which result in a symphony of sweet, smokey, sour and spicy. The finish is very long and strong. Beautifully crafted and wonderfully complex, it’s hard not to fall for the Mezcal Vida.

Del Maguey Tobala – A very funky and sweet butterscotch nose makes this mezcal one that you’ll want to spend time sniffing. Its nose is elusive but delicious. The taste is extremely flavorful with excellent funk, pepper, smoke and wood. The finish is extraordinarily long. With an extreme depth and flavor, the Tobala is something to be savored. Made from uncultivable agave plants, this is one of the rarest and most expensive mezcals on the market.

El Silencio Joven Mezcal -  is made from a blend of three different agave species from San Baltazar (Espadin, Mexicano, Tobaciche) and then double distilled. Most of the mezcals on the market right now are made from a single variety of agave, so El Silencio’s choice to do a blend of three different kinds is an interesting departure.  Mezcal’s signature smokiness is here on the nose of El Silencio but it’s much more restrained than with most of the other mezcals we’ve had, and reads a little more like mesquite BBQ. Along with the smoke is a nice roasted agave note, black pepper, and vanilla. The entry starts out nice and buttery with light smoke, sweet agave, and vanilla, but by the time we get to the midpalate a lot of what’s established with the entry begins to fade. In the midpalate El Silencio gets fairly singular with a tequila-like pepper kick backed by a diesel gasoline note. Towards the finish everything begins to dry out and disappear. The finish is medium long, driven by pepper and a slight amount of smoke, a stark dry counterpoint to the lush opening. While there are some nice flavors in the El Silencio Mezcal, it’s been too stripped down, especially in the midpalate.

Fidencio Mezcal Joven – Strong notes of banana dominate the nose along with vanilla notes, combining to make a nice sweet tropical nose. There are some rubbery tones that also can be picked up on the nose. The taste is white pepper with smoke underneath, sugar, caramel, and pear. The banana note from the nose is also well represented in the taste. The finish is medium sweet and sour that ends pretty dry. The nose on this mezcal is fantastic but the taste doesn’t quite live up to the promise. It’s a unique mezcal that is much less funky than many of the other jovens we’ve tried. It is a nice mix of tropical and spice, but falls just short of wow.

Illegal Mezcal Joven – Strong vegetal and savory notes dominate the nose for this mezcal, including fresh asparagus, nutty cheese and smoked bacon. The taste is intensely smokey with notes of white pepper, bacon, beef jerky and unripe green apple. On the mouth it feels a little thin and the finish is very dry, sour and smokey. While there are some nice things going in with this mezcal, it doesn’t fully deliver.

Illegal Mezcal Reposado – Pale gold in color, the nose on this mezcal is notably funky with butterscotch, rubber and chipotle spice. The taste has strong notes of rubber with monster black pepper combined with white pepper, caramel and smoked cedar. The finish is also extremely long with smoke, pepper and caramel clearly lingering on long after the last sip. There’s some fantastic complexity here, although we didn’t love the rubber notes in it. Still a delish mezcal that we give

Illegal Mezcal Anejo – Golden yellow in color, this mezcal has very pronounced notes of pineapple on the nose combined with caramel, oak, and even distinct notes of gorgonzola. The taste is beautiful with sweet caramel, butterscotch, pepper, pineapple, smoke and wood. The finish is a nice balanced smokey, sweet and buttery finish that leaves you wanting more. A clear standout, this Illegal Mezcal is head and shoulders above their Joven and beautifully crafted. We fell in love with this Mezcal and heartily recommend it.

Los Nahuales Mezcal Blanco (Joven)- A funky (in a good way) nose with notes of smoke, cheese rind and salami. The taste is smokey and savory with notes of white pepper, habanero, honey, and funky, cheesey salami. It has a very nice full mouthfeel with a strong flavorful finish. There is some nice depth here in this likable mezcal.

Los Nahuales Mezcal Reposado – Pale yellow in color, this mezcal has a very pasty nose with vanilla and chalk notes. The nose smells a lot like Elmer’s glue with a little smoke. The taste is strong wood, smoke and pepper that dances on the tip of your tongue. It has a nice slow smokey finish. There’s enough going on here to make this a mezcal worth trying.

Los Nahuales Mezcal Anejo – This mezcal has a light golden caramel color, and a very sweet nose with buttery sugary notes that remind you of chocolate chip cookie dough, with deeper notes of caramel, honey, cardboard and even a dusty old box. The taste has heavy notes of smoke with some more muted white pepper and caramel companion notes. Underneath is a nice tone of dried fruit especially dried cherries. This mezcal has a noticeably cool mouthfeel, almost minty. The finish is long and smokey, nice and dry. This is a well distilled and crafted spirit, but its flavor profile may not be for everyone.

Mijes Joven Mezcal – With a blue-grey platinum color, this mezcal has a very nice sweet, thick nose with pear, vanilla and strong notes of butterscotch. The nose also has some nice funky notes to it. The taste is very rubbery with pepper, cedar and paper notes. It’s also a little dusty on the palate. The experience of drinking this is extremely unpleasant with the rubbery notes dominating the longer it sits. The Mijes Joven is overly hot (chokingly so) and the finish is all fire and rubber. How can a spirit with such a promising nose taste so off? Taste this one and you’ll see.

Montelobos Mezcal Joven  –  the nose is smoky with burnt rubber tire, roasted agave, roasted jalapeño, and oyster shells. While the smoke is strong, it’s not overwhelming, and the burnt rubber note isn’t unpleasant, as strange as a pleasant burning tire can sound. The nose has a strong character to it, but it stops short of being assaultive, and it’s not harsh or vapory at all. The entry has a nice sweet roasted agave note which is quickly joined by the smoke from the nose. The smoke here is quite pleasant, in very much the same way that the peat smoke on an Islay Scotch Whisky is enjoyable. Also there on the entry is a nice spicy white pepper note which is accompanied by a noticeable amount of salinity. All this serves to create a balance which is maintained throughout the flavor experience. In the midpalate the flavors from the entry are joined by a nice vegetal roasted jalapeño note, and the burnt tire from the nose. As with the smoke note, the smoky, rubbery note in the midpalate isn’t unpleasant in the slightest, which may be an odd and slightly disorienting experience for those who are unfamiliar with the category. Although the flavors of the Montelobos are strong, they come together quite well in a unified fashion, with all the pieces fitting together well, even though you wouldn’t expect them to. The finish is very long and slightly dry with a core of white pepper lingering on the palate along with nice exhale of smoke and rubber.

Oro de Oaxaca Mezcal- Pale yellow in color, this mezcal has a very funky, smokey and oily nose with undertones of cork, plastic and rubber. It enters the palate very, very, very hot with notes of smoke and pepper, walnut and rubber. It feels thin on the mouth and is extremely hit and run – it’s a blast of heat and then quickly vanishes. Ultimately too thin and fleeting to really like, it is so out of balance that it feels like something went awry in its distillation.

Scorpion Silver Mezcal – A sweet nose with light floral notes combined with rubber, wet pavement and roasted nuts, there’s something about it that doesn’t quite work and isn’t altogether pleasing. The taste is pepper, nutmeg, cardamom, and sugar cookie with very subtle notes of smoke underneath. The finish is pretty clean and dry but we did get some burning on the roof of our mouths (not a good thing). Tasting blind it gets a 2 1/2 stars,but then there’s the bomb drop: the bottle has a scorpion IN it. Many of the people on our panel were mortified and said they’d NEVER buy this spirit because of it. If it were an amazing mezcal I think we’d have an argument, but it isn’t.

Scorpion Reposado Mezcal  – White gold in color, almost like a chardonnay, this mezcal has a very thick nose with vanilla, deep caramel, honey, funk and currant. The taste is a nice mix of white pepper, cherry, caramel, green apple and smoke. The finish is dry, slightly sour and smokey. As with the Scorpion Silver, this mezcal has a dead scorpion in the bottle. This is a huge issue for several members on our tasting panel who would never buy it because of the scorpion. With the silver it’s hard to argue against that, but there’s more case with the reposado.

Scorpion Anejo Mezcal – With a very dark gold color, this mezcal has a strong sweet nose with caramel, honey, butterscotch, pepper and honey. The nose is notably thick and creamy. The taste is strong with heavy smoke, bacon notes, charred burnt wood (maybe cherry) and an artificially sweet undertone like Splenda. This mezcal is very heavy and syrupy on the palate and finishes with a charred pepper finish. As with other Scorpion Mezcal we’ve reviewed, the fact that there’s a dead scorpion in the bottle was a huge deal breaker for most people on our tasting panel. Tasted blind this mezcal scored low, not nearly enough to overcome the issue of the dead scorpion.

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