The Somm Journal

Dec 2015-Jan 2016

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Page 28 of 124

28 { THE SOMM JOURNAL } { agave spirits } "I'D BEEN WANTING TO PRODUCE A MEZCAL for years," recounts Arturo Lomelí, founder of luxury tequila brand Clase Azul. "We scoured the country for the right distillery and found it in the state of Durango." He acknowledges that sourcing the agave from outside of Oaxaca is the not traditional route—in fact, fewer than one percent of all mezcals hail from the mountainous landscape of Durango—but Lomelí wasn't discouraged. He found a small family distillery in the region that made mezcal using the traditional techniques; they formed a partnership, allowing the distillery to continue production and endowing Lomelí's existing Clase Azul tequilas with a world-class mezcal sibling. Instead of utilizing the more common types of agave like Espadín or Tobalá, Clase Azul Mezcal begins with Cenizo (Agave durangensis)—grow - ing at up to 8,500-feet elevation, in fairly hardy to dry and cold conditions. Although this plant is elusive and produces less juice than its popular relatives, Cenizo's profile has great depth and heavy minerality. This mezcal doesn't rely solely on smokiness as its defining characteristic; rather, the palate is layered with notes of riverbed, white pepper and ayacahuite pine. The mezcal is housed in the iconic Clase Azul bottles made by Mexican craftsman, with the cap topped by handmade Huichol art, made of yarn and small colorful beads. Beautiful inside and out, as they say. CLASE AZUL'S NEW MEZCAL HAILS FROM THE UNLIKELY REGION OF DURANGO, MEXICO by Emily Coleman / photos by Cal Bingham Jason Eisner, Beverage Director for Gracias Madre in Los Angeles, integrates Clase Azul Mezcal into his Up in Smoke cocktail. He wanted to bring out the vegetal flavors that are dif- ficult to pull out in other mezcals with this offering and wanted to complement the minerality, which reminded him of hops. "I have been waiting for Clase Azul to release a mezcal," Eisner says. "This expression shows incredible terroir—it really allows you to be more playful when building cocktails." Thinking Outside of Oaxaca 1½ oz. Clase Azul Mezcal ½ oz. hopped cucumber soda 2 dashes celery bitters ½ oz. simple syrup ¾ oz. lemon juice Muddle simple syrup and the peel from one fourth of a cucumber. Strain into a water pipe and smoke with organic hemp seeds. Serve in rocks glass and garnish with cucumber dipped in lime. UP IN SMOKE

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