Top-Shelf Mezcal Amarás
Top-Shelf Mezcal Amarás, Found in Mexico’s Best Restaurants, Arrives in L.A.
As mezcal floods into the United States, Mexican brands are finally getting more attention.
I first tasted Mezcal Amores at Mexico City’s MeroToro, the Baja California cuisine restaurant from chef Jair Tellez. I later found it at restaurants in Oaxaca and even as far north as chef Javier Plascencia’s Misión 19 in Tijuana. Amores is among a handful of brands that have established themselves among Mexico’s elite chef community, and it has now arrived in the United States under the name Mezcal Amarás, which translates to, “You’re going to love it.” Their first stateside offering is an ancestral mezcal produced in San Juan del Rio, Oaxaca, made by master mezcaleros with 100 percent espadin (cultivated agave).
When I received an invitation to tour the distilleries of Mezcal Amores in Oaxaca, I jumped at the opportunity because I already knew the brand and had been ordering it at dinners around Mexico. Amarás is produced in the famous mezcal village of San Juan del Rio by five master mezcaleros led by Don Roberto, who brings generations of experience to the craft of making mezcal. It’s a careful process of pit-roasting alongside hissing and popping red oak covered by river stones. Uniform-cut agaves are placed in the pit and covered with earth, then crushed by a tahona (stone wheel) before open-air fermentation brings in all the local bacteria that give Amarás its clean citrus flavors and mild sweetness. It’s brought down to 41 percent ABV for a smooth and pure beverage that make this a perfect mezcal for both beginners and enthusiasts.
Amarás is now available in Los Angeles, thanks to importer Anchor Distilling Co. distributing Mezcal Amarás Joven (un-aged) through Southern Wine and Spirits. This is big news, getting another mezcal that can count itself among only a handful in Los Angeles that are established Mexican brands, like El Jolgorio, Pierde Almas, and Alipus.
There are more good mezcals coming, both straight-to-the-U.S.-market and established Mexican brands, but Mezcal Amarás will give you a real taste of Mexican restaurant and bar culture as it is in Oaxaca, Mexico City, and now Los Angeles.