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We Blind Taste Tested Mezcals Between $30-$70 In Search Of The Very Best Buy

Mezcal is expensive. Whether you’re talking about the most artisanal bottles or the cheaper beginner-friendly expressions, if you’re drinking mezcal it’s probably hitting your bank account a bit harder than your tequila habit. But don’t let that more expensive price tag dissuade you — because mezcal, with its savory and smokey flavor notes and small batch production methods, is truly something special.

And right now we’re living in a bit of a mezcal renaissance. A mezcal-issance, if you will.

Since 2017, mezcal consumption in America has been on a steady growth path with exports increasing year after year. The global Mezcal market is currently worth $241.3 million according to Market Reports, projected to be worth nearly double by 2028. Just 15 years ago you’d be lucky to find a bottle of mezcal at your supermarket or corner store — today, mezcal demands the sort of shelf space usually reserved for gin, rum, or American whiskey (not quite as much as bourbon or tequila… yet).

So where do you start if you’re new to Mezcal? We think bottles priced between $30-$70 are the sweet spot for beginners, so we grabbed eight and put them to the blind taste test.

Methodology

For this tasting, we mostly focused on Espadín mezcals, which generally fall within that $30-70 price range and are the most common variety on the market. We generally stayed away from reposado and añejo expressions, focusing instead on joven — which should taste better in this price range. If you’re buying an añejo mezcal for $30, beware!

Here is our class:

  • Agua Magica Mezcal
  • Cutwater Mezcal Joven
  • Dos Hombres Espadín Mezcal
  • Lejana y Sola Mezcal
  • Madre Espadín Mezcal
  • Mezcal Amarás Cupreata
  • Mezcal Amarás Espadín
  • Montelobos Mezcal Espadín

Let’s see how things shake out!

Part 1: The Tasting

Taste 1:

Mezcal Ranking
Dane Rivera

Pleasantly sweet on the nose with an agave-forward flavor. Hints of caramel, tropical mango, and apple skin color the smokey wood flavor with a nice burning finish.

Taste 2:

Mezcal Ranking
Dane Rivera

Sweet honey greets you before settling into a strong savory flavor. Roasted agave and wood dominate with a burning smokiness and a mouthwatering savory aftertaste. This one really had me salivating.

Taste 3:

Mezcal Ranking
Dane Rivera

Surprisingly sweet and fragrant on the nose. This one presented itself with a burst of vanilla and roasted agave before revealing fruity tropical notes, cocoa, and leather with a peppery bite and a smooth herbal finish. Really nice and bright… I love this one.

Taste 4:

Mezcal Ranking
Dane Rivera

Warm chocolate and smoke with a savory aftertaste. This one is really nice and smooth and another taste that had my mouth watering thanks to its sumptuous mouthfeel.

Taste 5:

Mezcal Ranking
Dane Rivera

Very herbaceous with a fresh grassy flavor with a bit of almond and sports a soft mouthfeel, and a sweetened finish. It’s very buttery and floral and is dangerously easy to drink.

Taste 6:

Mezcal Ranking
Dane Rivera

Butter on the nose with some sweetness lurking deep in there. On the palate, it’s chocolate forward with strong smokey notes peppered with citrus and mango. The aftertaste is spikey and earthy on the tongue but it goes down smooth on the throat in this very pleasant and luxurious way.

Taste 7:

Mezcal Ranking
Dane Rivera

Bitter and flat on the nose, the smell doesn’t jump out it just kind of sits in the glass. Very different than every other tasting so far. The flavor hits you with a rush of caramel on the initial taste bit settles into a sort of chemical and metal flavor that comes across as very off-putting.

From my notes: “A real shipwreck in a sea of great mezcals.”

Taste 8:

Mezcal Ranking
Dane Rivera

Buttered popcorn and sweet vanilla greet you on the initial taste. The body is very earthy and peppery with a subtly sweet lift on the backend. It tastes really good, but ultimately nothing special.

Part 2: The Ranking

8. Cutwater — Mezcal Joven (Taste 7)

Mezcal Ranking
Dane Rivera

Price: $51.99

ABV: 45%

The Mezcal:

This one surprised me. I’ve had Cutwater’s Mezcal several times and generally, my experience with it is that it’s a fine mezcal, but tasted against the competition and this one just didn’t have any life to it. It was easily the weakest of the lineup. Cutwater makes this mezcal by. roasting agave sourced from Durango Mexico in traditional rock pit ovens.

The Bottom Line:

Blunt and lifeless. For the money, there are several bottles that offer a much richer bouquet of flavors.

7. Madre — Espadín Mezcal (Taste 8)

Mezcal Ranking
Dane Rivera

Price: $35.99

ABV: 40%

The Mezcal:

Made from agave sourced from the foothills in Oaxaca Mexico, for the price, I think this stuff is generally pretty good but it couldn’t hold its own against the competition. Madre uses a single varietal, offering what the brand calls a “full-spectrum flavor of Espadín,” but in its simplicity, the flavor failed to really wow us.

The Bottom Line:

A great decent beginner’s mezcal. Earthy with a sweet aftertaste that makes it remarkably easy to drink.

6. Mezcal Amarás — Espadín (Taste 6)

Mezcal Ranking
Dane Rivera

Price: $35.49

ABV:. 41%

The Mezcal:

Handcrafted from epsadín agave eight years in age sourced from the mountainsides of Tlacolula Oaxaca and cooked in conical stone ovens, this San Francisco Worlds Spirit Gold winner is way tastier than its price would suggest. This might have landed in the middle of our list, but it’s a significant step up from the bottle that proceeded it.

The Bottom Line:

Very expressive and full of character with a nice balance between sweet and smokey notes.

5. Dos Hombres — Espadín Mezcal (Taste 1)

Mezcal Rank
Dos Hombres

Price: $62.99

ABV: 43.2%

The Mezcal:

Dos Hombres is perhaps best known as Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul’s brand, but fear not — the Breaking Bad boys did their homework. This isn’t a simple vanity project, it’s good stuff. The mezcal is made from a blend of espadín agave hand-selected from the hillsides of Oaxaca roasted in earthen pits and baked for four days, resulting in an award-winning (SF World Spirits Competition and New York International Spirits Competition) flavorful mezcal

It might’ve landed in the middle of our ranking, but just by a hair.

The Bottom Line:

Walter White and Jesse Pinkman boys have proven themselves in the world of artisanal mezcal. A. bouquet of flavors that never gets boring and is perfect for slow sipping or mixed in a cocktail.

4. Agua Magica — Joven (Taste 5)

Mezcal Ranking
Dane Rivera

Price: $69.99

ABV: 40%

The Mezcal:

Not only was this the priciest bottle in the line-up, but it’s also the only one that utilizes the rarer Tobalá agave. but it’s just not to my tastes. It’s bright and citrusy with the subtlest smoke on the backend that makes it very. easy to drink. Agua Magica is a joven mezcal made from an ensemble of espadín and tobalá agave sourced from San Juan Del Rio Oaxaca and prides itself on its seed-to-bottle production process. The bottle design made me want to rank it higher, but overall it came across as too sweet to win me over.

The Bottom Line:

Sweet smooth and bright. If your general feeling towards mezcal is that it’s too smokey, give this one a try, it’ll win you over. I think this would’ve ranked higher mixed in a cocktail, but as a sipper it’s a bit too sweet for me.

3. Montelobos — Mezcal Espadín (Taste 4)

Mezcal Ranking
Dane Rivera

Price: $36.99

ABV: 43.2%

The Mezcal:

This was the real surprise of this blind taste test. Monteobos is a very affordable brand, but for the price, this bottle packs so much flavor and is punching way above its weight class. This joven mezcal is crafted from organic espadín agave sourced from Oaxaca and Puebla roasted in underground fire pits and small batch distilled. The brand is the brainchild of Ivan Saldaña, who holds a Ph.D. in botany, and agave specialist Don Abel López Mateos, a fifth-generation Mescalero. You can really taste the expertise, this duo knows what they’re doing.

The Bottom Line:

The best bang for your buck, this mezcal is mouthwatering and savory with a warm chocolate finish.

2. Lejana y Sola — Mezcal (Taste 2)

Mezcal Ranking
Dane Rivera

Price: $60.99

ABV: 42%

The Mezcal:

Lejana y Sola’s mezcal is made from a blend of espadín and rare cuishe agave sourced from the hills of Oaxaca. This smokey and sweet mezcal is distilled in a small family-owned palenque in Lachilá using an old-school artisanal electricity-free crafting method that involves roasting the agave in stone-lined puts and crushing the juice using a horse-drawn tahona before it’s fermented in wooden tanks and doubled distilled in copper alambiques.

I’m a sucker for mezcals that get the salivary glands going crazy and this bottle really delivers on that front.

The Bottom Line:

Savory and mouthwatering with a honeyed smokey flavor. A single sip of Lejana y Sola will have you drooling for more.

Mezcal Amarás — Cupreata (Taste 3)

Mezcal Ranking
Dane Rivera

Price: $62.99

ABV:. 43%

The Mezcal:

This one wins because for the price this is the most unique mezcal you’re going to find. That’s because unlike the other mezcals in this ranking, this is the only one made from cupreata agave grown for 13 years in Tixtla Guerrero. Cupreata is rarer than espadín and is grown in the wild, which gives it this very interesting floral flavor that constantly shifts on the palate and registers as both familiar and unique at the same time.

This mezcal has taken multiple awards home, including being named the best in show at San Francisco’s World Spirits Competition. It’s well deserved in our opinion — this one stood as the clearer winner.

The Bottom Line:

Sweet, fragrant, tropical, smokey, Mezcal Amaras’ Cupreata is a lot of things at once. A constant chameleon of flavors that is as bright and floral as it is leathery, smokey, and savory. It always offers something new with every sip and we can see it working as a flexible base for a lot of different mezcal-based cocktails.

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