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Extremely Rare, Ancestral Mezcal: 5 Sentidos Espadin "Batch ESALB01-19" - 11/16/2019 - Other Distilled Spirits

Our direct-import spirits program has unearthed some amazing finds over the years. One of our most compelling finds of late is the 5 Sentidos Espadin Batch ESALB01-19. Sourced from a site that’s 6500 feet above sea level and made in what can only be described as ancient methods, it is a rare and highly unusual spirit that’s sure to turn more than a few heads. When our spirits buyer proclaims a bottling is “one of the most delicious agave spirits I've ever tasted,” something very special is going on. One might expect, given the uber-traditional approach employed by the supremely talented Alberto Martinez, that the spirit tends towards the wild and feral end of the spectrum. Such is not the case. Infinitely approachable and supremely delicious, this single-batch expression will appeal to a very broad audience, while proving authentic enough to appeal to even the most discerning mezcal connoisseur. This is the very pinnacle of mezcal. We count ourselves fortunate to have a direct-import relationship with such an inspired producer. Any fan of mezcal won’t want to miss the undeniably compelling and delicious expression.

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5 Sentidos Espadin "Batch ESALB01-19" K&L Exclusive (Alberto Martinez) Santa Catarina Albarradas Uncertified Oaxacan Mezcal (750ml) ($109.99)

5 Sentidos started as the house spirit of the acclaimed restaurant in Oaxaca city "El Destilado" and has become a platform to uplift numerous traditional producers who otherwise wouldn't be able to sell their products on the international stage. There's a stigma in Mexico of exporting uncertified agave spirits, driven by the idea that mezcal's denomination of origin is synonymous with quality. In fact, the system shuts out many traditional producers and allows countless industrial practices that should be considered inferior. That's why many of the greatest mezcals are being bottled without certification. This exceptional nano-batch mezcal is one of the finest we've ever taste from any producer. Alberto Martinez's palenque, "La Escondida" is located above 6500 feet in the town of Santa Catarina Albarradas. Here it is the Sierra Negra that is most often cultivated. The ubiquitous Espadin grows extremely slowly at these high altitudes and Alberto only manages to cultivate enough from his fields (near 7000 feet) to produce a batch of Espadin every 2-3 years. This batch consisted of only 31 pinas roasted over oak and acacia leaves. The agave is mashed with wooden mallet and mixed for fermentation in stone with Tepehuaje bark, a nitrogen rich fermentation aid crucial to kick starting the process in the nearly freezing temperatures. The mash is then double distilled on small clay pots. The resulting 120-liter batch is nearly unprecedented in its deliciousness. Truly outstanding.

Staff ImageJackson Lee | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: January 03, 2020

This espadin took me through a loop. In all honesty, I was not digging the nose. When I first poured it into the glass I got black rubber and cow patties. I swirled and gave it time to blow off a bit and found when I came back to it, the funk had gotten more mild and fruitier tones of canned peaches (with that little bit of aluminum) and cooked agave made their way forward and made nosing it more interesting. The palate told a whole different story. Despite there being some decent heat on the nose, the palate was soft and smooth, reminding me of stone marble, both in texture and flavor. Then a candy-like sweetness hits the tip of the tongue and radiated through to the back of the palate with a subtle quince and white pineapple flavor. The finish was long with sweet minerals and bar-b-que chips as the minerality slowly faded. Like some of my other favorite foods, just because you dont like the smell doesnt mean its not delicious.

Staff ImageAndrew Whiteley | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: November 14, 2019

When you taste a spirit that challenges everything you thought you knew, you're onto something special. Espadin, the most plentiful agave for Mezcal production, also tends to be the least expensive. While it's easy to think, "oh, Espadin, why would I pay more than 30 or 40 dollars for a bottle?" it's hard to dismiss this piece of magic from Alberto Martinez bottled by 5 Sentidos. This is the pinnacle of Espadin agave spirit. Wonderfully complex it's a fascinating combination of fruit, savory herbs, sweet flower blossoms, and just the tiniest hint of smoke. It's one of the most broadly appealing agave spirits I've tasted all year. If you've got an agave lover, Tequila, Mezcal, Sotol or otherwise, they'll find this to be an exceptionally enjoyable spirit. If you're buying it for yourself, one sip and you'll think you got the steal of a lifetime.

Staff ImageKeith Mabry | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: November 13, 2019

When I think of Mezcal, I often drift into thoughts of American barbecue. In some regions of the US, the smokier the better. But I want to taste the meat, and that's exactly what brings me to one of the most impressive Mezcals I have tasted this year. The use of oak and acacia in the smoking process gives a subtle more refined character. This smoking and all the hand processing really allows the aromas and the flavors of the Espadin to shine through. Citrus, spice and that peppery vegetal tone accentuate the smoky palate. Don't think of this as a less smoky alternative though, think of it as a more appropriately smoked version. I am definitely putting this on the shelf of my home bar.

Staff ImageWill Blakely | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: November 13, 2019

This exemplary mezcal shows how time, dedication and impeccable technique can acheive some of the highest quality spirit imagineable, certified or not. Careful cultivation and handling of this Espadin yields something altogether different from the overcooked and ruddy tastes of high-volume cocktail-only mezcal. The flavors are immaculate and fresh, snapping into focus from the moment the liquid leaves the bottle. Piquant lime zest and mellow roasted roots up front transition seamlessly into chamomille, fresh herbs and green agave. On the back end, a meaty char and the requisite savory smoke give the feeling of serious weight, but all of it is held in perfect balance by a lingering mineral character that leaves the finish just as dry and crisp as the start. Honestly, it's dangerous how easily this goes down; pace yourself, but don't be surprised if you have to buy several bottles before this batch is gone.

Staff ImageDavid Othenin-Girard | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: November 07, 2019

This very special batch of Espadin from the great Alberto Martinez is easily one of the most delicious agave spirits I've ever tasted. I often ask mezcal customers what they're looking for in an agave spirit. Do you want to be challenged? Are you just looking for something easy to drink and enjoyable? The category is so diverse that there really is something for everyone. But very few products offer something for everyone all in one little bottle. Despite the extremely traditional, almost ancient, production methods here this mezcal isn't hard edge or overly funky. It's not especially bbq-y, as Alberto doesn't use any mesquite, but the smoke is there. What's most prominent is purity of fruit and the depth and quality of the flavors. On the nose expect and enormous wave of citrus fruit, mostly limes and Meyer lemon, pointed by fresh white floral aromas, hints of chamomile and smoldering charcoal. On the palate a stupendous rush of spices, cinnamon, clove, sage and more citrus. A perfectly pure green agaveness wafts through the finish. Utterly delicious and distressingly easy to consume. Too bad we won't see another on like this for several more years.