Ilegal Mezcal is a small batch mezcal hailing from the Oaxaca region of Mexico. While the spirit is very much legal, the name is a tribute to the brand’s illicit beginnings. Brand owner John Rexer, in a quest to find a quality mezcal for his bar in Guatemala, began smuggling in mezcal from Mexico. From there, it’s been spreading one bottle at a time to cities all over the world.
Ilegal produces small lots of three mezcal expressions: Joven, Reposado and Anejo. Each is distilled from 100 percent agave and clocks in at 80 proof. All three are unique spirits deserving of their own review, and up first: the Reposado.
Ilegal Reposado Mezcal is a light golden color. The label and wax coated cork lend to its authenticity and less-than-legal past. This mezcal is aged for a few months in new oak barrels, which gives it some oaky character and flavor. Immediately, you are drawn in by the distinctive smoky and lightly sweet nose. Upon tasting, you’ll find a buttery sweetness marked with pleasant warmth. It’s smooth throughout, with just the slightest of growls to remind you you’re drinking mezcal. The smoke notes are carried from the nose to the taste to the finish, and it all ends in a lovely, smoky bit of butterscotch.
The complexity of this mezcal (from sweetness to smoke to oak) makes it a great candidate for sipping on its own. But if you’re looking to spice up a stand-by cocktail, try substituting mezcal in place of bourbon to give your Old Fashioned an interesting twist.
– 40% Alcohol by Volume
CE Rating: ★★★★