Six mezcals for six people on your gift list

Six Mezcals – Photo by David Kitai

Holiday shopping can be nightmarish. So many people to buy for, and so many tastes to satisfy. Liquor is always a safe bet, but you still want to give something original. Thankfully, Vancouver’s mezcal choices are getting better, right on time. Tequila’s hipper, smokier cousin can please the various palates and predilections of your friends and family. Brendan Grills, the sommelier and bar manager at La Mezcaleria Gastown, has a Mezcal for at least six of the kinds of folks you need to buy for this holiday season.

Mezcals can be made from any species of Agave native to Mexico, while Tequila can only be made from one. Mezcal agave is typically roasted in a pit before fermenting, imparting characteristic smokiness to the drink. But the variety of agave used, and the small-batch traditions of distilling, means that you can find a mezcal for any taste.

For your aunt with a hollow leg, PIERDE ALMAS +9 BOTANICALS

Okay, it doesn’t have to be your aunt. But we all have that person in our family who can quietly knock back a fifth of gin before anybody else notices. That sort of drinker loves freshness, quaffability, and a bit of interest. Pierde Almas +9 Botanicals is technically a gin, made with the nine classic gin botanicals but using mezcal as the base spirit. Grills says it marries the herbaceousness of the mezcal with the floral, and classically gin-ish, botanical flavours harmoniously. Certainly a curiosity, but subtle enough for aunty to pour some in that collins glass that never seems to run dry.

For that friend who was really into bourbon a few years ago, AGAVE DE CORTES REPEOSADO

Maybe they’re still into bourbon, or maybe they’ve already moved on to the mezcal trend. Either way, they’ll love Agave de Cortes Reposado. Reposado, in tequila and mezcal, means barrel-aged, picking up colour from the casks while some of the bolder flavours mellow out over time. It still holds onto its smoky character, according to Grills, but it picks up some gentle caramel notes that’ll bring your bourbon-swilling buddy right back to the heyday of 2012.

For the friend who organized all your hikes last summer, EL JOLGORIO TEPEZTATE

This is an adventurers mezcal. It’s made from a species of agave called tepeztate that takes twenty-five years to mature. Grills says that long maturation process gives the agave a wild minerality “with overtones of serrano chili and stewed tomatillo.” What better for your most adventurous friend than a drink that smells of concrete and salsa verde?

For your dad, or your grandad, or just an older, wiser figure in your life, SIETE MISTERIOS ARROQUENO

You know the type. Curled up in their armchair, sipping from a tumbler of scotch by the fire. Even if you’ve never seen someone actually do that, I’m sure there’s at least one person in your life you could see in that chair. Siete Misterios Arroqueno is for them. Arroqueno agave is grown in the desert where it takes on a rich and leathery quality. To Grills, the nose is delicate while the palate is herbaceous and powerfully smoky, like an Islay scotch. This mezcal is for the figure of wisdom in your life who might want a change from the scotch in their glass.

For your effortlessly cool friend, KOCH ENSEMBLE

We all have one. That friend who seems at home in any situation. As much as their ease might irk you, they still deserve a drink that matches their character. This Mezcal is made from four different species of wild agave, each giving a flavourful punch but without individually dominating the drink. “It shows the grassy/herbaceous, sweet/floral, earthy, and smoky elements in perfect harmony.” For a social chameleon, it’s worth having a drink that fits any situation.

For you ALIPUS SAN BALTAZAR

Grills says this mezcal is for the home-bar. This is the classic mezcal, grassy and smoky, but at a price point that won’t kill you. It’s ideal for cocktail experiments, or a drink after a long day of booze shopping. Since you just bought all these amazing gifts for your friends, don’t you deserve to treat yourself?