Mezcal Convite Esencial Joven PDO — Far from Basic

While there are many agave spirit lovers whose hearts belong to tequila, I’m also part of the mezcal minority: the variegated flavors of well-made mezcals are winning me over. In case you haven’t noticed, during the past decade or so mezcal has been evolving from a liquor of harsh rusticity into a stimulating artisanal product.

For example, in this Convite Esencial, the aroma is made up of herbal pinesap, lime peel and woodsmoke, along with a hint of fruit preserves and sweet florals. Smoke dominates the palate and end-palate so much that the finish actually seems peaty. The spirit itself is surprisingly mild, and even the typical “burn” in the finish is not overdone.

A partnership of two brothers, Convite produces their spirit in the traditional way: the piñas are harvested from Espadín agaves, cooked in an underground stone oven, ground with a tahona stone powered by burros, and fermented in wood — then double-distilled in a copper pot still. Esencial is the basic mezcal produced by Convite; it is 40%ABV, in the Joven category (clear and unaged in oak), with a hand-written batch number on each label.

SUSTAINABILITY: “…fair trade and maintaining 100% of its value chain in the Oaxacan economy… committed to protecting and preserving the wild agave…a dedication to environmental sustainability.”

WHO: Convite

WHAT: Espadín [A. Augustifolia], 40% ABV

Where: Oaxaca, Mexico

HOW MUCH: $39 (media sample)