Mezcal Comes Out from the Shadows

The mere mention of mezcal—a distillate made from agaves roasted in rock-lined earthen pits—often conjures up images of smoky cantinas and even smokier liquids being poured into dusty glasses. Not so with Sombra ($35), which means “the shadow” in Spanish and signifies the closeted role this ancient spirit has played in a world dominated by tequila, which is made from steam-cooked agaves.

Although still very much a mezcal, Sombra is a kinder, gentler version, characterized by delicate floral smoke highlighted with fruity essences and a slight bite of citrus in the finish. Therefore, it’s not surprising that the two partners behind Sombra are master sommelier Richard Betts and wine distributor and entrepreneur Charles Bieler.

Sombra is made from wild espadin agaves hand-harvested from the steeply rising slopes of the Oaxacan Sierra, where abundant warmth and sunlight hasten ripening. Because mesquite is not readily found at these higher altitudes, the agaves are roasted with oak, which softens their flavors. Or, as Betts says, “Sombra puts forth ever more exotic fruit qualities, retains the peppery spice, and allows the smoke to play the bass notes without drowning out the band.” (www.sombraoaxaca.com)

Photo by Antoine Bagot
The finest Cognacs are deeply flavored, richly textured, and best discovered on their native ground...
Music festivals can often feel like the aural equivalent of an all-you-can-eat buffet, but...
In honor of the hotel’s 125th anniversary, the ultra-rare scotch comes with a piece of England’s...
Scott Torrence evaluates, assesses, and drinks some of the greatest vintages in the world...
The cucumber-infused spirit inspired the giant green airship, which is taking to the skies of major...
Photo by Madison McGaw
Club members celebrated the release of the Cognac at the Surrey hotel in in Manhattan…
A new generation of imbibers has flocked to the lighter taste of grain whisky…
Photo by Bob McClenahan
The bottles from the $6 million worth of barrels sold will be available in as soon as one year…
Because it is not aged entirely in new American oak barrels, the whiskey is not technically bourbon…
Photo by Andrea de Maria
Though banking, land, and vines have occupied Florence’s Frescobaldi family for more than 700 years...