Booze | February 5, 2021 5:47 am

Review: OAX Mezcal Is More Than Just the Prettiest Bottle You’ll Buy This Year

Limited-edition, beautifully presented mezcal crafted from rare and wild agave

OAX mezcal
OAX is a new, artist-driven mezcal release
OAX ORIGINAL/CELESTE MARTEARENA

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What we’re drinking: OAX Original, a line of small-batch mezcal crafted from 12- to 25-year-old foraged agaves.

Where it’s from: OAX is a new mezcal brand with a decidedly artistic bent, as proven by the rather striking ceramic bottles, which are inspired by both Mexican (pre-Hispanic) and Euro-American Modernist architecture designs, and created by Laura Giraudo and Roberto Bernasconi of the Brooklyn-based Bardo Industries. The bottles also arrived in a silk-screened kraft box. 

OAX Mezcal
OAX ORIGINAL/CELESTE MARTEARENA

Why we’re drinking it: Mezcal has a lot of range that goes unexplored. Most of what we drink arrives via agave angustifolia, the espadin variety of agave. The wild agaves here are sourced from the semi-arid, mountainous Central Valley of Oaxaca, and then, according to the brand, “the hearts of the agaves are slow cooked in the ground with oak and mesquite, stone-ground by horse, then wild yeast fermented in pine barrels before being double distilled and bottled on-site in Oaxaca” by third-generation Maestro Mezcalero Enrique Hernandez Zenea. Besides, these might be the most interesting looking bottles we’ve seen in a long time — they’re as much art as they are vessels.

OAX Mezcal
ReserveBar

How it tastes: My palate (as far as agave goes) has been awakened. There is a serious breadth of flavor here. All of these are for sipping, and here’s how to do that.

Arroqueño (black bottle, A. americana): Citrus/lemon-y, with a hint of pepper and a spicy minerality on the palate. 

Tobalá (white bottle, A. potatorum): Floral and menthol were the two overriding notes here. A bit herbaceous, too, this one was recommended as an aperitif or digestif. The least unique of the three, but outstanding and complex nonetheless.

Tepeztate (pink bottle, A. marmorata): The oldest agave here at 25 years. This one is exceptionally bright with some vegetal notes, a lot of smoke and a fair amount of citrus on the palate and finish. I’d sip on this all day. 

Fun fact: Only 900 bottles per varietal have been crafted.

Where to buy it: The three expressions are available at ReserveBar for $120-$190