I was recently sent three samples of Illegal (that’s the brand name: pronounced “eeh-lay-gal”) Mezcal by the United States importer, Frederick Wildman and Sons, Ltd. My last experience with mezcal was many years ago, and it involved fraternity brothers, a worm, and empty spots in my memory. These bore no relationship at all to that barely-remembered potion. These new handcrafted mezcals were aromatic, herbal, complex, even floral. Three different bottles were sent and tasted: a joven (“young”), a resposado (“rested”), and an anejo (“aged”).
A huge leap up, this was a fine sipping liquor, one that would fare well against fine whiskeys and bourbons. The color was darker, not quite bourbon, more like rye, from three years in a blend of French and American oak. The nose was incredibly soft, like butterscotch and leather. On the palate there was smoke, burnt butter, toasty wood, and a flavor captured by the description “the browned, but not quite blackened, part of a toasted marshmallow.” The finish was very long, lingering and changing, adding white pepper and lavender. It was absolutely silky smooth, without the hint of a bite. Very highly recommended.