Thursday, June 4

Spirit Hunter – Andrew Kay dines out!

- February 26, 2019

I have been to innumerable tastings over the last 30 years, from beers to champagne and pretty much every port in between, not port port you understand although yes, I have been to port tastings, and they are dangerous believe me.

No to tequila & yes to mezcal

Last week I was invited to a mezcal tasting. Yes mezcal which by reputation might sound far more dangerous than port. I was first to arrive, I often am, having an almost pathalogical fear of being late to anything. I was greeted by the charming host Erika and offered a Mexican beer and a seat. It was a great start and I had a chance to take in the surroundings at Sirit Hunter which is not a bar but a wine and spirit merchants, that sounds so much nicer than off licence and so it should.

When the others arrived we were a small crowd and all seated as one. I liked that, meeting new people is always fun and this lot were most definitely fun. By that I don’t mean that they were out for a wild time, but they were certainly game for a laugh.

Erika kicked the evening off with a cocktail of mezcal with tamarind and lime, made by her friend Carlito from Carlito’s Burrito who was there to provide some much needed sustenance along the way. Anyway the cocktail was very good and a fine start.

I don’t think anyone had any idea about mezcal really and certainly not the complex method by which it is produced. It did beg the question “whoever thought of that?”. Erika works with her brother who makes three kinds of mezcal and imports them here. That story alone is worthy of an evening out as her top level mezcal is not only made with the highest level of integrity but is also shipped here under sail. Yes that’s right, zero impact freight!

Back to the drinks. Our first tasting was very impressive and Erika’s advice on how to actually assess the qualities was fascinating, when did you spill a little spirit in your hands and rub them together to get the full value of the aromas without the hit of the alcohol – yes it works. The flavour is complex and smokey and not what I had expected of mezcal. It has a closeness to the earthy qualities of good whiskies and certainly the peaty single malts that I have come to enjoy.

The second was very different, yes there was the earthy complexity of drink one, but this was layered with floral notes, a drink I would be very happy to sip all night long which Erika explains is exactly how mezcal should be drunk. She also promised no hangover and she was right! The third drink was the most complex and unsurprisingly the most expensive as this is the one that arrives by schooner, a romantic mode of transport that comes no doubt at a price.
Throughout the evening Carlito presented us with matched foods that hit exactly the right spot. From now on it’s no to tequila and yes to mezcal!

Spirit Hunter
32 North Road, Brighton

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