Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Pierde Almas Maguey de Lumbre Mezcal: Light My Fire

Fresh citrus flavors always taste especially good in the summer, whether you're eating a salad, enjoying grilled fish, or sipping a wine or cocktail. Last week, I tasted an intriguing and unique spirit, one with vibrant citrus flavors as well as much more. It was a perfect summer drink.

I've been taken with some of the more unique Mezcal offerings from Pierde Almasa Mezcal producer also devoted to being a socially, culturally and environmentally responsible company. Master Distiller & Owner Jonathan Barbieri is personable and passionate, an innovator who is helping to spread love for Mezcal. Check out my prior articles, Pierde Almas 9+ Botanicals: The First Mezcal-Gin and Pierde Almas & Mezcal de Conejofor reviews of two of their other Mezcals, a Mezcal-Gin hybrid and a Pechuga made with wild rabbit.

Now, I'm here to discuss one of their special Mezcals, made from a rare agave, the Pierde Almas Maguey de Lumbre Mezcal ($79.96), which I bought at Astor Wine & Spirits in New York City. I note that Astor is currently having a Mezcal sale, from August 28-30, with 15% off everything, so you can purchase this Mezcal right now for only $67.97.

Maguey de Lumbre is a rare type of agave, usually wild though a small amount is cultivated. Little is known about this agave and there is even some disagreement over its nature. Some believe it is a type of Karwinskii agave, like Madrecuixe or Barril, but it seems more believe that it is a unique species. Jonathan Barbieri told me that it resembles Espadín, but has thinner leaves and a reddish tint which gives it the name Lumbre, which means "fire."

Most often you will see Maguey de Lumbre used in Ensemble blends, and usually only a tiny amount will be added. Piedre Almas though chose to bottle a 100% Maguey de Lumbre and this is a special bottling, which is not made on a regular basis. Barbieri recently discovered that one of his producers has several hundred plants of Maguey de Lumbre, interspersed on a hillside among about a thousand Espadín. The Lumbre plants though are only 2 to 3 years old, so it'll be five or six years until they are ready to be harvested. Thus, there is only a very limited availability of the existing Pierde Almas Maguey de Lumbre and I highly recommend you pick some up. You won't regret it!

How does it taste? Jonathan Barbieri told me, "It could be described however, like an great Espadín, only better. Somehow, rarer, purer - adjectives that I realize are completely unhelpful." Sometimes words are inadequate to properly describe a spirit or wine. In that instance, you must experience it for yourself, and then you may understand the nature of such a spirit or wine. After drinking this Mezcal,   Jonathan's words made sense to me.

The aroma was more subtle, with hints of citrus and smoke, but it was on the palate that this Mezcal grabbed my attention. The first taste was pure gustatory pleasure, a hedonistic revel in the complexities and flavors of the Mezcal. I didn't try to understand or analyze that first taste, rather letting myself experience what it brought to my mouth. This was a compelling Mezcal and once I started looking deeper, it only became even more intriguing.

Citrus notes dominated the flavor profile but there was much complexity providing harmony to the spirit. There was also a mild smokiness, subtle herbal accents, and wispy spice notes. Just sit and sip it and you'll realize the fascinating complexity of this spirit. The taste was clean and smooth, and although it was 49% ABV, you probably wouldn't have realized the alcohol level was that high. It was an elegant pleasure, something to slowly savor on a summer evening, though you could certainly enjoy this year round. It is certainly a spirit you need to experience to best understand its nature.

The Pierde Almas Maguey de Lumbre Mezcal receives my highest recommendation and I strongly urge you to let it light your fire. I also give my highest recommendation to the Mezcal producer, Pierde Almas, which is creating some amazing and unique Mezcals. I'll enjoy more of the Maguey de Lumbre this upcoming holiday weekend, and maybe I'll even share it with some family and friends.

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