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Drink Review: Del Maguey Chichicapa Mezcal

Del Maguey single-village mezcals are very rare and highly sought-after, having picked up the title of World’s Best Mezcal at the World Spirits Competition every year from 1999-2002. This bottle of Chichicapa was made in the village of the same name, and scored a hugely impressive 94 points from Wine Enthusiast.

Chichicapa Mezcal Review:

Color: Silver, Translucent/Hazy.

Nose: Pineapple, spicy skins, red fruit, anise, pumpkin pepitas, and vanilla. Earthy notes (soil).

Taste: Spicy peppery spice, root beer, vanilla, chocolate, and black cherry. A little earth, but with a roundness to the finish.

Finish: Medium. Earth, allspice, menthol, vanilla, pepper, and lots of wood. A little drying oak.

Overall: This bottle was a real joy – it is smart, sophisticated, and full of character. As with the past few Del Magueys we’ve reviewed, it always surprises me how this style of mezcal ages – it always seems to get better with time. I was really blown away by the complexity and depth of this bottle. It shows a ton of restraint without at all being an empty-flavored, rustic drink. It’s very much in the same vein as the other Del Magueys I’ve tried.

The mezcal I sampled is a smoky and earthy sort of liquor – they call it “Maguey escondido,” which translates to “hidden wood.” I don’t really get any of that on the nose, but I’m glad they at least called it that, because I can certainly pick up the wood smell on the palate.

I enjoyed the Chichicapa Mezcal, but it brought up a lot of questions about mezcals in general. The Del Maguey Chichicapa is an excellent mezcal, but what does it actually tell us? Other than the fact that Del Maguey makes a damn good mezcal, the Chichicapa Tequila shows us, again, an encouraging lack of interest in precision when handing out this label. Chichicapa is not an actual village, and it’s in San Luis Potosi, Mexico, not in anywhere close to Del Maguey.

I’m under the impression that a lot of superlatives are assigned by the mezcal-trade organizations down in Oaxaca because they see this mezcal as not being as serious as other brands. In a way, it does deserve those superlatives, as it is quite exceptional. But when you’re picking a region, they shouldn’t just be able to plop a label down anywhere they want.

Color: Translucent/Hazy, silver-blue.

Nose: Pineapple, black and red fruits, lemon, vanilla, piña colada, and raspberries.

Taste: Pineapple, chocolate, black and red currants, carob, vanilla, lemon, and pine candy.

Finish: Medium. Pine, coffee, spicy and sweet spices, wood, camphora, and some oak. Earthy and dry.

Overall: Another excellent bottle of Del Maguey, although it didn’t quite stand out as much as the other mezcals we’ve tasted. This one had a bit more of a woody scent all around, and the finish was a bit drier. The Chichicapa Mezcal is likely the best mezcal in the still-rarer single-village Del Maguey line.

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Chichicapa Mezcal Review:

Color: Translucent/Clear

Nose: Earth, black pepper, anise, anise, lightly sweet, black currants, and caramel.

Taste: Aromas of mint, earth, and black pepper. Pineapple, honeysuckle, and pepper, with a light bit of sweetness. Earth and oak.

Finish: Medium. Spicy and slightly sweet. Caramel, chocolate, pepper, and a touch of anise.

Overall: This was my least favorite of the series – surprisingly, because it was so up front and straightforward but also not really exciting. As the previous bottles have illustrated, mezcals can be pretty damn complex. More of what I expected from a Mezcal de Oaxaca regional bottling.

Most of the Del Maguey bottles we’ve tasted are straight-up solid, but I don’t think we have a true-blue winner yet. Like the past bottles, this is a bit of a sleeper in the bunch. It’s not bad, but it’s not really shining above the rest. Anyway, we’ll see how I feel about it on the next few bottles. (Note: For some reason, the nosed label on this was called Mezcal del Valle de Oaxaca instead of Del Maguey Chichicapa.)

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Written by Mark Adams

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