MCF Rare Wine
Talkin' Sotol w/Arik Torren
NOTE: This write-up is supposed to be the 'short version', if you want more details, watch the above video (ideally, you'll do both, of course). Even though Arik is much better lit than I am, it's a good watch...I mean, we were drinking Sotol on a Monday morning, so...
One of the surprising benefits of being a booze peddler during the pandemic was that, instead of sales reps coming to me, they were, for obvious reasons, forced to send me samples.
I know, yes...it sounds like an amazing problem to have, but, it was hard work (!) and, truth be told, I'm still backlogged by a significant amount.
(To all my sales reps on this list, I promise that I'll get to them all...)
One of the most enjoyable 'sample drops' that I received was from Arik Torren, who imports traditional Mexican spirits through his company Fidencio Mezcal.
Now, I'd been a fan of the line of Mezcals he brings in from the wonderful producer Derrumbes for a while now, but this drop was an amazingly fun adventure through the non-Tequila universe...I mean...there were like 30 tiny airline-sized bottles of basically his entire book.
While there were, indeed, many legit highlights, but each time I pulled a little taster from the Sotol producer La Higuera, I realized that Sotol (part of the broader 'Mezcal' category, but distilled from the Sotol plant, rather than Agave) is where the action is...well, at the very least, La Higuera's Sotol is.
So, I pinged our good pal Pam (who all you locals know from her many in-store tastings) of PM Spirits (Arik's distributor here in NY) and said something to the effect of 'Holy S*#t are these La Higuera good!'
She and I had actually been meaning to do a Zoom chat with Arik for quite some time, so that he could guide me through the whole bag, but I immediately knew what we had to do...a Zoom chat with Arik that I record and turn into an offer for what is, right now, the booze of the moment for me.
I mean, I'd become a convert to the 'Mezcal Mentality' a while ago, but it was high time I share my enthusiasm with you.
Here's the bottom line - I have three different Sotol from Higuera, each distilled in the same way, but from a separate species of the plant (Genus Dasylirion), and from a slightly different part of Mexico.
The Wheeleri is the workhorse, sporting classic earthy/vegetal/smoky/briny profile with a lovely berry fruit on the finish, which bring all that character home nicely. It may be the slight ruffian of the group, with its edgier, more overtly smoky nature, but it's, nonetheless, proper and soulful all the way.
The Leiophyllum is the rebellious one that, as you'll hear Arik recount, might throw you for a loop (in a good way, of course), and challenge whatever notions you bring to the glass. It's wildly different on the nose than the other two, showing tons of exotic mineral elements but, on the palate, these fantastic meaty, earthy flavors emerge, almost in contrast to the nose, and are enveloped in a gorgeously oily texture. This is the least smoky of the three.
The Cedrosanum is the total package - it's got that 'identifiably Sotol' smokey/vegetal thing on the nose that the Wheeleri shows, but there's more depth to it on every level. On the palate, it hits all the notes as well, but there's just more gravity and more refinement to it. It also does a nice job at tying in some hints of the meatiness you get from the Leio, too. Again, it ends with a kiss of that beautiful berry-ish fruit that keeps you coming back.
Each one is completely unique.
Each one is fantastically delicious.
I dare you to try and find a beverage that offers this much character for such a fair price...
...but I'll save you a lot of time and liver cells and tell you that you won't.
I do all this research for you...
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MCF Rare Wine, Ltd
249 West 13th Street NYC 10011