Mezcal Vago Ensambles
For those of you mezcal nerds that have been paying attention, we over here at Vago have been slowly expanding our ensamble selections over the past year. You are all most likely familiar with Tío Rey’s Ensamble en Barro, which we have been doing since day one. But starting with the sought-after Curry-30 batch back in 2016, we have been encouraging the mezcaleros we work with to pursue their natural instincts to experiment with blending flavors from different agave varietals into a single, complete mezcal with an intriguing and complex profile.
Let’s just say, we have been blown away by the results. Each of these mezcals are cohesive and truly representative of each mezcalero’s style, but at the same time singular, capturing one moment in the season when the recipe was purely dictated by nature. As many mezcaleros and cantineros here in Oaxaca City will attest to, this method of production is a very accurate window into the past of mezcal, before the boom in global demand created tastes and expressions that catered to an international curiosity to understand the incredible biodiversity of Oaxaca and the flavors provided by each agave that exists in it. Being subsistence farmers in remote locations, mezcaleros of previous generations were typically producing mezcal but a few years each year; when time, season, and availability allowed. Few had enough land to grow large swaths of different varieties, or the funds to purchase enough of one species to fill an horno. As such, they were typically filling their pits with whatever they could scrape together in the sun-baked hillsides. This practice typically resulted in ever-evolving batches of mezcal that evolved with the environment, akin to a farmer’s blend in wine producing regions. While this practice made consistency of flavor something rare, consistency of quality was enjoyed alongside diversity of flavors.
Having watched this evolution of profiles become so closely cherished by fans of Tío Rey’s Ensambles, as they often recite their favorite batches when we sit in their mezcalerías, we have encouraged this freedom to experiment with other artists we work with. The results have been stellar. For both those that have, and have not been keeping track, we have included a chart with the history of the ensambles from both Aquilino and Emigdio. We highly encourage you mezcal hunters to try and trade on groups like Smoked Agave or visit your closest mezcalería to see which ones they currently have on the backbar, or already in their glass.