Mezcal has grown to new heights in the last 18 months, with brands offering a range of expressions as the flavour profile becomes more acceptable with the growing demand for variety by the general public. With this combined with renewed focus on training for bartenders, mezcal is enjoying its biggest boom since its days tagged at tequila’s big brother.
Aprendiz is one such brand that has come to the shores of the UK, but offering a different outlook on the category, instead focusing on the more concerned crowd who may have only just got their tongue around tequila, never mind mezcal.
Hailing from the Santa Sabia distillery in San Juan del Rio, Oaxaca, the family owned brand prides itself in producing a fantastic selection of angustifolia-variety agaves, leading to softer flavours coming through, alongside the characteristic of smoke. The only version available in the UK (there are three overall) is the Aprendiz Joven Espadin, meaning that this certain expression uses 7 year old Espadin agave, cooked within a conical stone oven after being crushed using the Tahona method (by horse too). The fermentation tub is made of Sabina wood, then distilled twice within a copper pot still, all created by Mezcal Master Isaias Martinez.
Aprendiz comes from the same family who produce the Pescador de Sueños range of mezcal, expressions that offer up flavours for those who can really immerse themselves in the mezcal category.
Housed within hand-crafted, high-temperature ceramic flasks, there are currently twenty two different varieties of Pescador de Sueños available, but seven of them are the expressions you will see the most of, including Cuishe, Tobala, Arroqueno, Cuixito, Bicuixe, Coyote and Pechuga. Each expression is produced using different agave types, grown by Isaias Martinez and his family, and depending on the time of year, will be harvested once ripe. Although this does mean that these small-batched expressions will ultimately run low at points, their focus on 100% organic, using traditional methods, means that the wait for them to re re-released is always seen as a celebration.
But how does Aprendiz and the Pescador de Sueños range fair? Well below, I give to you my tasting notes on my experiences so far –
Aprendiz Joven Espadin – 38%
Light whispers of smoke upon the nose, wrapped with the flesh of orange and cardamon. A more subtle smoked flavour on the palate, instead giving way to cracked black pepper, cedar wood and stoned fruits. A long finish of cinder, with hints of apple and tobacco.
Pescador de Sueños Pechuga – 48%
Pechuga agave aged for 8 years by Mezcal Master Felix Angeles, crushed organically by a manual wooden hammer.
Fresh coriander on the nose, with hints of bold caramel. Soft sweetness comes through, followed by ripe green fruits, leading to a mouth-watering, freshly baked agave finish.
Pescador de Sueños Arroqueno – 48.4%
Arroqueno agave aged for 20 years by Mezcal Master Fernando Mitra, crushed organically by a manual wooden hammer, then distilled twice within clay pots.
Soft fudge and cocoa on the nose, with sweetened raisins coming through. A sharp, bold kick of fresh cocoa bean, with the vanilla coming through slowly, before hitting a buttered cake finish.
Pescador de Sueños Cuishe – 49%
Cuishe agave aged for 12 years by Mezcal Master Leoncio, crushed using the Tahona method, then distilled twice within a copper pot still.
Soft vanilla and toffee notes on the nose, with subtle dried prune coming through. A slight sharpness of baked agave hits first, followed by coffee beans and citrus zest, with white pepper on the finish.
Pescador de Sueños Coyote – 50.7%
Very light and thin on the nose, with soft notes of baked earth. Heavy viscosity on the palate, offering up baked rye bread, fudge and a hint of cocoa as it finishes.
An amazing range of expressions, and it really does go away from the usual smoked profile you can see with similar brands. As you can imagine, the Pescador de Sueños range are tended to head towards the sippers of the mezcal world, but Aprendiz works wonders in one of these –
Martini / Sling
60 ml Aprendiz Espadin
30 ml Sugar Syrup
30 ml Coco Real Coconut Cream
60 ml Strawberry Juice
Blend the ingredients together for 30 seconds, then stir over ice vigorously. Serve and garnish with grated coconut.
Although not all are widely available, as mentioned previously, the lineup changes depending on when the agave is ready. An essential for your drinks cabinet for sure.
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