I’ve mentioned before that I’m not exactly a big fan of mezcal. Not for lack of trying. I’ve had my fair share of it in bars in Mexico and then I sampled a whole slew of them during the Gueleguetza Festival in Oaxaca this past summer.
In cocktails I like it. Probably not coincidentally, this is the same way I feel about Scotch. Everyone has their likes and dislikes when it comes to drinks and for me the things that taste like they’ve been sitting next to a campfire for a few hours are better mixed with other flavors than standing on their own.
So I wasn’t expecting much when I attended a party during the ILTM Americas event held at the Fairmont Mayakoba that was going to be hosted by a new mezcal brand. I felt better after I checked out the bottle though, which was one of the most unique liquor bottles I’ve ever seen. It’s got a keyhole in the front as part of its design and an eye on the other side of the bottle. The implication is that the person the eye is seeing through the keyhole is you. Indecente—get it? It has an eye on top the bottle and a little skeleton key is attached. The marketing slant is we all should be indecent now and then. “Mezcal Viejo Indecente gives you the key to open the door and be your other self…at least for a little while.”
At 48% alcohol, that might not be very difficult.
This is though, hands down, the smoothest and most palatable (to my tastes) version of the maguey distillation I’ve ever tried. Old grizzled cowboys in Oaxaca would probably think it’s girly. It’s not oily, not very earthy, and it doesn’t taste like a piece of charcoal was used as the stirrer. So if you really are a big mezcal fan already, this might not get you too excited.
If you’re someone who hasn’t found one you like though, especially to drink neat, put Indecente on your list. It’s got a flavor profile that’s clearly mezcal, but it tips closer to its relative tequila than it does to what usually comes out of Oaxaca. In part, this is because of how it’s prepared. The agave fruits for tequila are usually steamed in ovens, while the ones for the poor stepchild are often cooked in a pit in the ground for days on end, with the smoke rising through the fruit.
The Lucas Garcia family doesn’t go for that whole fire pit thing, so in their version much more of the fruit flavor shines through. There are notes of citrus, honey, and herbs that are often smothered in the much heavier versions of this spirit. This flavor profile allows it to work in a wider range of cocktails than usual too, so if the regional distribution that’s getting going now can expand to more of the USA, you might see it finding its way into cocktails by people looking for the next big thing.
Mezcal has been called “the next big thing” for as long as I can remember, but it has mostly been more hype than reality—as with pisco from Peru and Chile. That’s in part because people often get a look on their face that’s not fit for a magazine ad when they take a sip. With this new Viejo Indecente brand, however, the predictions could finally become reality.
If you read Spanish, check out the company website here.