Corte Vetusto releases its long-awaited Ancestral Mezcal, using 100% Sierra Negra agave. We catch up with Founder David Shepherd and sample this ultra-rare product.
It’s no secret that we’re big fans of Corte Vetusto. Authentic, passionate, committed and rooted, it is a brand that really gets to the piña of agave culture, hand-crafting astounding premium mezcal and looking good whilst doing it. The hard work and dedication of the Corte Vetusto team has been recognised time and time again, resulting in the brand scooping up awards left, right and centre, as well as gaining a loyal following of agave lovers around the world.
Corte Vetusto Ancestral Mezcal
We first heard whispers of Corte Vetusto Mezcal Ancestral three years ago from the founder David Shepherd himself and have been eagerly awaiting its arrival ever since. “We first thought about doing this in 2018”, says David. “We sourced the liquid in 2019 with a view to get it here in 2020, but that went pear along with the rest of the world. But now it’s here!”
Corte Vetusto Mezcal Ancestral is an ultra-rare expression made from 100% Sierra Negra agave – a rare sub-variety of Agave Americana, which can take up to 25 years to mature fully. These have been grown on Maestro Mezcalero Isidro Damian’s land in Villa Sola de Vega, Oaxaca, ensuring the sustainable preservation of the agave. The rarity of this subspecies and the slow, labour-intensive process of the production of “ancestral” mezcal means that only 80 bottles of Corte Vetusto Mezcal Ancestral have been produced! David states,
“We wanted to be sure that, if we were bringing something to the market, we were bringing the best.”
How is it made?
After being roasted underground, the piña (hearts) of the Sierra Negra agave are hand-mashed in a canoa (wooden vessel) with wooden mallets and left to ferment naturally in open-topped wooden vats. This mash is then twice distilled in four 60 litre wood-fired clay pots. The result is an exceptional joven (unaged) ancestral mezcal that is distilled to proof.
Tasting Notes: Corte Vetusto Ancestral Mezcal
Butterscotch fudge, green Tabasco, roasted agave, charcoal grilled green capsicum, firelighter flint, wet slate, cold morning cloud forest air, piney menthol, coastal chalk, young woody forest.
The initial texture is breathtaking: luxurious, creamy, oily, full and unctuous. The mezcal glides along the palate, lingering and coating the tongue. “Enrobing” feels too light a word for this astounding mouthfeel. The heat of the 50% ABV is finally felt in the throat after an impossibly long and smooth journey, feeling like a reward as it makes its way to your core.
[We got lost in the sheer craftsmanship of the texture for a very long time]
Once we allow our senses to reach past the mouthfeel, we’re enthralled by a complex and emotive palate that gives and takes with poetic dexterity. Earthy leanings and dry stability back prickling yet structured spice. Ripening tropical fruits coquettishly peak through the garbs of the ever-present ancestor, smoke, itself woven into the fabric of this liquid. Peppery Horopito and the juicy tang of peeled grapefruit throw themselves toward recognition, subsiding slowly as ashy wood and cool minerality take hold.
RETURNING TO THE NOSE
Returning to the nose, we’re moved to recall the far off scent of Hindu temples: incense, sacred ash, sandalwood paste and lotus flowers in water. This memory soon flips to pastry dough crumbs – doughy and thick, stuck on a wooden spoon. Damn, this mezcal is good.
We’re not usually the type to get overly emotional over our tasting notes but wow. It was a real shock to the system how genuinely emotive our tasting of Corte Vetusto Ancestral Mezcal was (hence the waffling, which we hope you’ll excuse us for).
All-in-all, Corte Vetusto Ancestral Mezcal is a breathtakingly well-crafted spirit, with a soaring palate that allows your tastebuds to take nimble flights of fancy whilst sending your mind spiralling with smellories. The texture is miraculous and sipping the only way to experience this outstanding liquid.
Rare as they come, only 42 bottles are available to purchase in-store (when it re-opens post-lockdown) at Harrods for £250. The price is steep but is it worth it? Yes.
If that’s outside of your budget, never fear!
The rest of this unicorn batch of bottles will go to on-trade venues, where patrons will get the chance to try this unique ancestral mezcal without having to commit to buying a bottle. KOL is one such spot where you’ll be able to enjoy a drop of Corte Vetusto Ancestral Mezcal, with others (such as Nobu) to come once lockdown restrictions have been lifted.
In the meantime, check out Corte Vetusto‘s other multi-award-winning, expertly crafted products, all of which you can enjoy from the comfort of home.
Production photos by Anna Bruce