Review: Montelobos Mezcal Joven – Ensamble and Pechuga
Last time we checked in with Montelobos, the company’s offerings centered around two hallmark expressions, namely their tobala and espadin. In the past year, the Campari-owned brand has expanded with two more (and quite different) expressions: an ensamble and pechuga.
The ensamble blend originates in Puebla and is primarily made using papalote agave and “complemented with” espadin and tobala agave from Montelobos’ existing expressions. It comes in at 45.3% alcohol, just a touch above the espadin at 43.2% and below the tobala at 46.8%.
The pechuga — originating in Oaxaca and coming in at a robust 47.9% alcohol — is a mezcal espadin that has been distilled for a third time with the addition of turkey breast, fruit, and spices. Like all Monetelobos mezcal releases, the two newest expressions are distilled in 300 liter copper stills.
Interestingly, all Montelobos mezcals — including their pechuga — are kosher certified, a notable designation given the addition of animal protein in the pechuga distillation process. In addition to launching new expressions, the company has also heavily promoted their partnership with The Wolf Conservation Center, a New York-based facility that houses and breeds endangered Mexican red and gray wolves (animals that Montelobos founder Iván Saldaña says inspired the brand name).
But enough on those details. Let’s see how they taste.
Montelobos Mezcal Joven Ensamble — Montelobos calls its ensamble the “most bold, sharp, and intense” of its expressions, and that’s more or less accurate. The nose hits quickly but not harshly with smoke, and there’s a strong vegetal note, more root vegetable than green. (Radish might be accurate here.) There’s also a strong hint of tea at the end of the nose, leaving the first impression sweeter than the two prior expressions. On the tongue, there’s a stronger smoke character, but also sweetness with caramel and candied citrus peel. The finish is sharp and thick, with both heavy cream and nutmeg, further emphasizing that sweetness on the palate. That same finish, however, vanishes a moment too soon. Enjoyable and just barely too fleeting at the end, the ensamble gives drinkers lots to pick through and dissect. 90.6 proof. B+ / $80
Montelobos Mezcal Joven Pechuga — On the nose, you get immediate marmalade, with deeper fruit notes including apricot in quick succession. It’s smoky and herbaceous, but the fruit and citrus takes front and center, likely due to the additional ingredients in the final distillation. On the tongue, it’s again fruity and sweet, with both baked and dried fruit notes: citrus evolves into guava and deep fried plantains. It could border on too sweet if not for green woody and herbal notes pulling things back just a bit. The finish is long, sweet, and borderline decadent while also bringing some welcome acidity at the end. So far, it’s a standout of the Montelobos lineup and a pour I’ll revisit slowly and at the end of a meal. 95.8 proof. A- / $130
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