I was recently sent three samples of Illegal (that’s the brand name: pronounced “eeh-lay-gal”) Mezcal by the United States importer, Frederick Wildman and Sons, Ltd. My last experience with mezcal was many years ago, and it involved fraternity brothers, a worm, and empty spots in my memory. These bore no relationship at all to that barely-remembered potion. These new handcrafted mezcals were aromatic, herbal, complex, even floral. Three different bottles were sent and tasted: a joven (“young”), a resposado (“rested”), and an anejo (“aged”).

WHO: Illegal Mezcal
WHAT: Mezcal, from agave
WHERE: Oaxaca, Tlacolula, Mexico,
WHEN: NV

The color was clear. It was surprisingly aromatic on the nose, with leather, toasted coconut, and an impressive amount of herbs, particularly sage and marjoram, coming through, not at all overwhelmed by the alcohol. Flavors were very different from the nose. There was no hiding the agave as the base flavor, with plenty of smoke, but it also had loads of butterscotch and white pepper. It was very smooth, with no harsh alcohol burn, and a pleasant slightly thick mouth feel. Highly recommended.

DESIGNATION: Joven
HOW MUCH: $59 (Media sample)