From Guerrero to Oaxaca: 5 Best Top Shelf Mezcals To Seek Out in 2023
The world of top-shelf mezcal can be a surprisingly fragmented place.
Most quality mezcal brought to the United States comes courtesy of artisanal-centric brands like Del Maguey, Maguey Melate and 5 Sentidos. Rather than running distilleries themselves, these brands seek out small-batch producers throughout Mexico then bottle their spirits for international distribution.
Though a handful of brands have mastered the art of industrial-grade mezcal, good artisanal mezcal is a limited supply market, often easier to read about than it is to actually find.
The only spirit to have ever been awarded a perfect 10 on our site, Maguey Melate Hermogenes Vazquez Garcia Tepextate, is as delicious as it is unobtainable (if you manage to find somewhere to buy it online, please feel free to send it our way).
Below, we’ve put together a list of the best top-shelf mezcals that are available on the retail market. Be warned, these releases tend to get a little pricy.
Bozal Coyote Reserva
Bozal Coyote Reserva is crafted in the “ancestral” tradition, made from wild-harvested coyote agave distilled exclusively in clay pot stills.
Surely a time-intensive task, the resulting spirit packs sweet and funky flavors of mango, pepper, pineapple and lingering vinegar. You can check out our full review here.
At $90, this certainly isn’t an inexpensive bottle, but it comes modestly priced considering the exorbitant price tags of similarly produced small-batch mezcals. If you’re not afraid of a pungent spirit, Bozal Coyote Reserva is an easy choice.
Find Bozal Coyote Reserva at Drizly.
La Medida Arroqueno
Distilled from 12-year arroqueno agave (also known as agave americana) in Las Salinas Coatecas, this expression packs a potent funky flavor profile chock full of cracked peppercorn, vanilla bean, papaya and jalapeño notes.
Mezcal lovers will find that this release leans less towards traditional mezcal smoke than it does towards earthy, vegetal flavors of cedar and fresh mowed grass.
Though 750ml bottles retail for around $120, La Medida was kind enough to also release $30 200ml bottles of this expression for those wary of breaking the bank.
Find La Medida Arroqueno near you.
Mal Bien Antonio + Lorenzo Sonido Espadin
Released in the much-beloved Agave Mixtape series, this expression from Mal Bien comes courtesy of father-son duo Antonio and Lorenzo Sonido in the underappreciated mezcal region of Guerrero.
Earthy on the nose and unexpectedly sweet on the palate, this unusually flavored mezcal espadin swirls with hints of peach, cream, honey, orange zest and more. You can check out our full review here.
Retailing around $130, this is an expression complex enough for seasoned enthusiasts while also remaining bright and accessible to newcomers.
Find Mal Bien Antonio + Lorenzo Sonido Espadin at Whiskey Caviar.
Del Maguey Minero
An iconic release from one of the best-known mezcal brands on the market, Del Maguey Minero is distilled using clay pot stills in the town of Saint Catarina Minas (“minero” being the hallmark term for all mezcal produced in this town regardless of agave varietal).
This expression bears a nose of clay and minerality, followed by a simultaneously sweet, creamy and acidic palate full of grapefruit, honeydew, lime, rye bread and more. You can check out our full review here.
At $133, this a release that showcases the immense variety possible within quality mezcal. With an ABV of 49%, it happens to be a particularly boozy one as well.
Find Del Maguey Minero at Reserve Bar.
5 Sentidos Mexicanito
Released under 5 Sentidos’ “Collecion Mixteca,” this expression from mezcalero Anatolio Ramirez is made using agave mexicanito distilled in a mix of clay pot and stainless steel stills.
This release packs a lot of character, brimming with mango, sour milk and salinity on the nose. On the palate, concentrated flavors of lemon, orange, honey, brine, salt and slate create a uniquely sweet and savory sipping experience.
Retailing for $150, this is a pricier release that should be sought out by experienced mezcal lovers in search of something new (plus, you’ll get a cute little donkey stamped on the label).
Find 5 Sentidos Mexicanito near you.
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