The name Topanito will not only be familiar to loyal readers of my blog by now. When I look back on my article from 2016 and notice how I tried to explain tequila as also being a “premium spirit” which must be differentiated from less appealing qualities, in 2020 this seems a bit strange. Sometimes it’s really amazing how quickly situations change, because by now hardly anyone should doubt that tequila can do more than salt, lemon and convulsion. And of course, many have long since also learned about the Mezcal category. (provided test product)*
I don’t want to talk again about the relationship between Tequila and Mezcal here, only that there is now also a Mezcal as part of the Topanito line that is not Tequila. Rather it is a real, classic Oaxaca Mezcal. But even this is not really correct, because there are basically two Topanito Mezcals available: One in reduced drinking strength of 40% abv and one in distillation strength with an abv of 52%.
The Topanito Mezcal Artesanal Blanco, as it is called in its full name, is produced from the agave variety Espadín and made in the distillery Amantes de lo Ajeno in the state of Oaxaca. The agaves for this Mezcal are harvested after at least seven years of growth. Afterwards – I guess these steps are well-known to Mezcal friends – the piñas (agave hearts) are baked in earth pits for five to eight days. Finally, the baked agave hearts are crushed and ground in a tahona (a kind of millstone) driven by a donkey. The mash is then fermented with a little water for three to five days in open wooden and stone vats relying on wild yeasts. Finally the Topanito Mezcal Artesanal Blanco is double distilled and bottled directly at 52% abv (respectively diluted to 40% abv).
For my article I was provided with the – in my eyes even more interesting – distillation strength variant, so that I can get an authentic impression and describe it here. However, I don’t have a direct comparison to the 40% one, but the general character will certainly become clearer with the stronger version anyway.
Aroma: Oh yes, on the one hand this is a typical, smoky and spicy Oaxaca aroma which I can find here, but on the other hand it also shows some rather unusual characteristics. First of all, the smoke is a bit more “phenolic”, I have to think of cold campfire smoke, burnt star anise, a hint of rubber and some gasoline. I know that such descriptions must seem rather repulsive to people who have little or no experience with smoky spirits, but actually the whole thing works quite wonderfully here. Of course, there are earthy agave tones as well, the typical mineral salt and an idea of white pepper are there right away, but also herbal tones of rosemary and coniferous wood. With time, more complex, “vegetal” tones come to the fore: sweetish paprika, an idea of peach, but also ginger and some unripe banana.
Palate: the smoke is also very dominant and superficial on the palate, but here it appears a little “warmer”: I reminds me more of smoked bacon roasted over a resinous wood fire. Again, there are notes of paprika and green banana, but also rock salt, white pepper and herbaceous notes. The alcohol is very pleasant to drink despite the 52% abv. It is noticeable (no wonder), but carries the taste nuances very skilfully. Really nicely done!
Finish: quite long with notes of smoke, herbs (especially rosemary) and some mineral salt
With a price of approx. 30 euros for the reduced version and approx. 40 euros for the 52 percent Topanito Mezcal Artesanal Blanco, this is also a real value for money. A clear recommendation from my side.
As far as cocktails are concerned, I have decided on a kind of Smash today. I wanted to showcase the spicy, powerful character of the Mezcal with pineapple (a popular combination), but then take it to a whole new level with deep, bitter notes of Nardini Fernet and a hint of the fantastic Krauseminze (spearmint) eau de vie of the Freimeisterkollektiv. Lime and agave syrup form the framework. And there it is, my Bittered Piña Mezcalita.
Recipe “Bittered Piña Mezcalita”:
5 cl Topanito Mezcal Artesanal Blanco 52% vol.
4 cubes fresh, ripe pineapple (approx. 2cm x 2cm)
2.5 cl lime juice
2 cl agave syrup
0.75 cl Nardini Fernet
2 bar spoons Freimeisterkollektiv Krauseminze (spearmint eau de vie)
6 drops of saturated salt solution
Preparation: First put the pineapple cubes together with the Mezcal in a shaker and crush or muddle them with the bar pestle. Finally add the remaining ingredients and shake on ice. Finally, strain twice into a pre-cooled glass.
Garnish: Pineapple leaf
Buying sources: At specialized retailers or online
*The fact that this product has been sent to me free of charge for editorial purposes does not – in any way – imply any influence on the content of this article or my rating. On the contrary, it is always an indispensable condition for me to be able to review without any external influence.