There are many interesting developments in the world of spirits to which one has become accustomed faster than originally thought. One or the other of these changes is perhaps no longer even actively realized. The fact that there is whiskey from almost every country in the world, for example, really no longer causes anyone to raise an eyebrow. The fact that sometimes a German Korn wins international prizes in a whisky category is usually still worth an anecdote and a few reflective thoughts about category boundaries and definitions, but even that no longer really arouses surprise. And since there is German rum distilled from specially imported sugar cane, the possibilities are truly endless, aren’t they? (provided test products)*
That is indeed how it seems, yes. And as if to support this fact, a very interesting product from the Black Forest has recently seen the light of day: Selva Negra. In fact, it is a German agave spirit. If you are now wondering where in Germany agaves are cultivated, you can give up your search beyond a few botanical university gardens, because the raw material for Selva Negra is imported directly from Mexico in the form of pure extract of the agave species agave salmiana. Florian Faude, who has long made a name for himself with his Feine Brände, now ferments this one-hundred-percent agave extract with the help of wine yeasts (the fermentation period covers about 3 to 4 weeks) and finally distills a German agave spirit from it – he distills it twice, to be exact. The really nicely designed bottle underlines with its label the program of the Selva Negra: the natural union of Mexican spirit and Black Forest flair. In fact, the spirit is rounded off with smoke and spruce aromas to create a unique and new interpretation of agave spirits. How does it taste? Well, I have no idea, but am consequently more than excited to try this 100% agave spirit from the Black Forest, which promises to open up a new world at a promising abv of 46%.
Aroma: Indeed, one notices directly a clear difference from usual agave distillates. However, it is also – unsurprisingly – quite recognizable as such. There are typical agave notes, a slightly earthy note, characteristic notes of white pepper and crystal salts, but also spruce needles, cedar and a good portion of lime. Both blur into an extremely exciting and very interesting overall picture, which I really like very much.
Taste: On the palate, the aromatic dichotomy described above is then present again. Spicy earthy agave notes combine with spruce needles, again cedar with resinous overtones. Then the white pepper is there, so typical of tequilas and mezcals, accompanied by an interesting sweetness, but notes of bright fruit also flash, forming a very complex and pleasing flavor profile.
Finish: a certain sweetness with associations of cedar oil.
There is a very nice drink by former Artesian head bartender Alex Kratena called Oye Mi Canto (Hear My Song) that consists of a blanco tequila, mezcal, rosé vermouth and orange bitters. The Selva Negra is such an interesting representative with its flavor profile that I took my cue from this drink and created a Blackforest Canto without further ado. I followed the basic recipe, but in addition to the mezcal, I added some raspberry eau-de-vie from the Black Forest, which with its fruity-fresh notes creates a wonderful connection to the rosé vermouth. Instead of the Orange Bitters, I went for the Bittermens Hellfire Habanero Shrub, which simply harmonizes fantastically with raspberry. Et voila: Blackforest Canto.
Blackforest Canto recipe:
3.5 cl Selva Negra
6 cl rosé vermouth
0,5 cl raspberry eau-de-vie
2 Dashes Bittermens Hellfire Habanero Shrub
Mezcal mist from a vaporizer
Preparation: Stir all ingredients except the mezcal in a mixing glass until cold and strain into the pre-chilled glass. Finally, add a few sprays of mezcal to the top of the drink.
Garnish: a sprig of rosemary
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.