Review: Mezcal Union Uno and El Viejo
The latest mezcal to hit the market comes to us not from a globetrotting celebrity but from a group of Mexican farmers going it alone:
Mezcal Unión is an artisanal mezcal brand & co-op built with the intention to unite indigenous farmers and family producers from different communities of Oaxaca. The goal of Mezcal Union is to use fair ways of collaboration to share the spiritual beverage (mezcal) with the world, while preserving the traditional distilling craft and empowering locals to grow socioeconomically. By connecting maestros mezcaleros and agave farmers, Mezcal Union guarantees that every bottle of Union is made with care, with a greater goal of preserving the process & relationships for future generations.
Mezcal Union is kicking off with two bottlings, Uno and El Viejo. Both are made in San Baltazar Guelavila, Oaxaca but utilize different species of agave in their production and are bottled at different abvs. Thoughts on both bottles in the initial turnout follow. (Also note that production and even proof information is different on Mezcal Union’s website vs. what’s noted on the bottles. I’m reporting the information on the bottles below.)
Mezcal Union Uno El Joven – Made from agave espadin and cirial, plants ranging from 8 to 14 years old. Quite smeet and classically smoky on the nose, heavy with citrus notes. The palate offers few surprises, with notes of smoky barbecue sauce, black pepper, and smoked beef notes. There’s an edge of citrus peel and a tough of green herbs in the mix. The finish is fairly short, finding lingering smoke and a slight saline character. Soft and easygoing, it’s a wholly approachable mezcal, though not one heavy with complexity. 80 proof. Reviewed: Lot #MKU099. B+ / $35
Mezcal Union El Viejo – Made from espadin and tobala agave; plants 8 to 14 years old. More complex than Uno, with an earthier underbelly. Green pepper, cayenne, and mixed herbs, especially thyme, are all heavy on the nose. The palate presents a sharper, heavier smokiness, with notes of fresh-ground pepper, bright green herbs, and Latin-spices that evoke cumin and cayenne. The finish layers in a smoked salt character, with a long, well-balanced conclusion. 90 proof. Reviewed: Lot #UN09/18. Bottles individually numbered. A- / $48