‘Ilegal Mezcal’ is really legal mezcal to be precise
on 30/03/11 at 5:07 pmSpirits
Contrary to its name’s licentious implications, Ilegal Mezcal is one of the few intoxicating exports from Mexico that isn’t illegal.
The cheeky branding is actually just an homage to New York-born owner John Rexer’s days hustling back and forth across the Mexican border while looking for spirits to stock in his tequila bar in Guatemala. Though perfectly legal, Mezcal has always enjoyed a guilty reputation stateside. The smoky godfather spirit of tequila, made from a variety of the agave plant that grows in the Oaxaca region of Mexico, has long been thought of as gasoline booze dare-chugged by college kids on spring break. That perception has rightfully matured in recent years, even if some of the frat boys haven’t.
The product of Ilegal’s small-batch process can be tasted in three vintages. Skip the unaged Joven, which tends to be too raw and fiery for slow sipping, and head straight for the Reposado, which is pleasantly smoky, with touches of cinnamon and citrus, or the vastly superior Añejo. In the latter the peppery heat comes entirely on the back end, with a smooth mouth feel and a bright vegetal nose up front. Ilegal Reposado Mezcal, $68, and Ilegal Añejo Mezcal, $110, ilegalmezcal.com