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One of the first expressions from Del Maguey to hit the market, this benchmark mezcal espadín introduced many U.S. bartenders and spirits enthusiasts to the category in the 1990s and early 2000s. Our reviewers emphasize its perfect balance of fruity and earthy notes, as well as its rich, silky texture. To best appreciate its complexity, they recommend sipping it neat or mixing it into spirit-forward cocktails like the Oaxaca Old Fashioned.
Classification: Mezcal espadín
Company: Pernod Ricard
Producer: Del Maguey
Still Type: Twice-distilled, copper stills
Benchmark example of the category with rich texture and balance of fruity and earthy notes
Complex enough to be sipped neat or enjoyed in spirit-forward cocktails
Relatively wide availability
Those new to the category may find the 48% ABV challenging
Fairly expensive for a mezcal espadín
Nose: Roasted agave, earth, grilled pineapple, fermented pepper, lime peels, smoked chilis, roasted bananas, poblanos, epazote, spearmint, sweet corn, butterscotch, whiff of barnyard
Palate: Overripe tropical fruit like mangoes and bananas, salinity, barnyard animal funk, cooked agave, grass, almonds, citrus, caramel, cooked pineapple, roasted sweet potatoes, marzipan, dried mint, toasted tortilla, palo santo
Finish: Long and silky
Similar bottles: Bozal Castilla, Del Maguey Santo Domingo Albarradas, Del Maguey Minero, Cuish, Lalocura, Origen Raíz Cenizo, La Luna, Palenqueros, Neta, Nuestra Soledad Santiago Matatlán, Real Minero
Suggested uses: Sipped neat, Oaxaca Old Fashioned, Naked & Famous, Tommy’s Margarita
Our tasting panel collectively emphasizes that this complex mezcal espadín sets the standard for the entire category.
“I always go back to this bottle for an example of what a great balanced mezcal tastes like,” says Enrique Sanchez.
“[It’s] an iconic mezcal in the category,” says Misty Kalkofen. “It was the mezcal that was the introduction to the category for many bartenders in the late ‘90s and early 2000s and continues to be a quality representative.”
Our reviewers picked out fruity and earthy notes on the nose, palate, and finish, as well as a rich and silky mouthfeel. Sanchez calls the palate “the perfect balance between sweet and savory.”
On the finish, Simó notes that this mezcal is a “great example of acidity and astringency being deployed expertly to lengthen and dry out all that tropical fruit from the palate into seemingly endless waves of campfire and earthy minerality.”
Every member of our tasting panel recommends sipping this mezcal neat. Sanchez adds that a little water can soften up the spirit for those who may find the 48% ABV challenging.
“The rich texture would also shine in a stirred cocktail,” says Kalkofen. “As the layers of flavor are deep, making it almost a cocktail in itself. I would suggest a two to three-ingredient application like an Old Fashioned.”
Sanchez recommends mixing this mezcal into a Oaxacan Old Fashioned or a Tommy’s Margarita, where its flavor profile can shine. Simó notes that “it is the original, and proper, mezcal to include in a Naked & Famous,” a modern classic cocktail he is credited with creating. “Try it once in that drink and you’ll never go back.”
Sanchez observes that this expression is relatively expensive for a cultivated-agave espadín mezcal. However, Kalkofen and Simó note that it is well worth the price due to the quality of the distillate and the traditional practices that go into making it.
“Chichicapa represents excellent value, as the clarity of expression is worthy of a mezcal at a much higher price point,” says Simó.
“Some will see the cost as too high for an espadín with the influx of ‘value’ brands that are offering bottles for $20,” says Kalkofen. “Hopefully that can be turned into a conversation about why $20 bottles are unsustainable and will be the death of the category and culture if we don’t turn that around.”
This mezcal espadín is made with 100% Agave angustifolia and hand-crafted in the village of San Baltazar Chichicapam, a dry area cradled by low hills with a tropical climate, in the Mexican state of Oaxaca. The roasted agave, which is cooked in underground ovens, is crushed by tahona and ferments naturally in wooden tanks. The mosto (a combination of shredded liquid and agave) is twice-distilled in wood-fired copper pot stills.
Del Maguey Chichicapa is certified as an artesanal mezcal by the Consejo Regulador del Mezcal. The mezcalero, or distiller, is Faustino Garcia Vasquez.
American visual artist Ron Cooper developed a passion for mezcal on a trip to Mexico in the 1960s. In the ’90s, he started forming relationships with Indigenous Zapotec and Miztec agave farmers in Oaxaca and buying their distillates. Cooper returned to the U.S. with a collection of 28 distillates from individual family producers. In 1995, he launched Del Maguey single-village expressions, with the name of the village that produced the distillate on each bottle. At the time, Del Maguey was among the first brands to introduce a global audience to mezcal made in the traditional way.
Del Maguey Chichicapa, made in the village of San Baltazar Chichicapam in Oaxaca, was among the first mezcals that Cooper released in 1995. Today, Del Maguey offers 20 expressions from 10 agave varietals, including Del Maguey Vida, a bartender favorite for mixing into cocktails. For most of the brand’s history, Cooper served as his own importer for Del Maguey, but in 2017 global spirits company Pernod Ricard purchased the brand.
–Written and edited by Audrey Morgan
Del Maguey Chichicapa is an original ingredient in the Naked & Famous, a Mezcal Last Word riff that Joaquín Simó developed at New York City’s Death & Co. Simó says he specifically chose Yellow Chartreuse and Aperol—ingredients that are milder than their counterparts, Green Chartreuse and Campari—to allow this bold mezcal bottling to shine.