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Discover the World of Tequila and Mezcal with Pascale's Liquors

Mon, Jul 03, 23
At Pascale's Liquors, we take pride in being the ultimate destination for tequila and mezcal enthusiasts around Syracuse and Liverpool, NY. Our store at 7401 Oswego Rd, Liverpool, NY 13090 offers a vast selection of the latest and hard-to-find releases for both connoisseurs and beginners alike. Come on in and chat with our friendly and knowledgeable staff, or even have a conversation with Nick himself, the owner and tequila aficionado, who can help guide you through his top picks.

History, Evolution, and Storytelling of Tequila and Agave-Based Spirits

Dating back to the 16th century, agave-based alcohol production was initially used by the Aztecs for religious rituals and medicinal purposes. Spanish conquistadors later introduced the art of distillation to Mexico, giving rise to modern tequila and other agave spirits. With time, production methods have evolved to meet increasing demand, but tequila's rich heritage still thrives, and artisans continue to honor time-tested traditions. The legacy of tequila maker Don Cenobio Sauza, who was the first to introduce reposado and helped promote tequila in the US during the late 19th century, exemplifies the revolutionary spirit and entrepreneurial zeal behind the growth of the tequila industry.

While tequila and mezcal often steal the spotlight, let's not forget other agave spirits such as raicilla, sotol, and bacanora that also merit recognition. Each of these spirits boasts a unique flavor profile that results from the specific agave variety, production method, and local traditions.

Agave Varieties: Discover the Flavors of Distinct Plants

Tequila and agave spirits owe their unique flavors to the specific agave plants used in their production. Tequila, for instance, is exclusively produced using the Blue Weber agave, which imparts notes of honey, citrus, and freshly-cut green grass. Mezcal, on the other hand, can be made from various agave species, each adding its distinct flavors. For example, the Tobalá agave produces a fruity, floral mezcal, while the Espadín agave creates a more earthy and smoky profile. Roasting the agave piña, or heart, is a key process that gives mezcal its iconic smokiness, distinguishing it from tequila.

Tequila Aging Categories: Blanco, Reposado, Añejo, and Extra Añejo

Tequila can be classified into four primary age categories, with each group offering its distinct characteristics:

Blanco Tequila – Unaged or aged for under two months, blanco tequilas highlight the natural agave flavors without the complexity added by barrel aging. Lalo Blanco Tequila stands as an exceptional example of blanco tequila, made from 100% agave with no additives. The purest tequila spirit, LALO Blanco Tequila is crafted using handpicked agave from the Jalisco highlands and a traditional cooking process.

Reposado Tequila – Aged between two months and one year, reposado tequilas gain amber hues and additional flavors from oak barrels, resulting in a richer, smoother quality than blanco tequila. Our Tres Agaves Reposado Barrel Pick at Pascale's Liquors, aged for 8 months and 22 days in a Four Roses OBSK barrel, is an organic reposado tequila that appeals to both tequila aficionados and bourbon enthusiasts. This exclusive private selection is only available at our Liverpool location.

Añejo Tequila – Añejo tequilas are aged from one to three years in oak barrels, boasting mature and complex flavors that make them an excellent choice for sipping neat or enjoying in high-quality cocktails.

Extra Añejo Tequila – Aged for a minimum of three years, extra añejo tequilas represent the pinnacle of tequila craftsmanship. Their lengthy aging process offers unmatched complexity and depth, earning them a place among the world's most exquisite sipping spirits. Tears of Llorona Extra Anejo Tequila, aged for five years in scotch, sherry, and brandy oak barrels, is a rare small-batch spirit with a unique, layered flavor that has been compared to cognac or very old whiskey, yet still retains distinct agave notes. The high price of extra añejo tequilas like Tears of Llorona is justified by the unparalleled sensory experience they provide, making them a worthy investment for tequila connoisseurs.
A Selection of Our Current Favorites:

Mezcal Exploration: A World of Singular Flavors and Techniques

Often referred to as tequila's smoky cousin, mezcal is primarily produced in the Oaxaca region and is made from a wide range of agave plants, showcasing traditional production methods that give mezcal its distinct, smoky taste.

Top regions for mezcal production include Oaxaca, Michoacán, and Guerrero. Each of these regions boasts its unique agave species, contributing diverse flavors to the final product. One significant process in mezcal production involves roasting agave hearts in earthen pits lined with volcanic rocks, offering mezcal its signature smokiness. Mal Bien Mezcal is an excellent example of a high-quality mezcal with its distinctive flavors and aromas.

Uncovering Tequila Additives: What are the Secrets and Concerns?

Many people may be surprised to learn that certain tequilas contain undisclosed additives. Mexican law allows brands to legally add ingredients such as sugar-based sweeteners, glycerin, oak extract, and caramel coloring – as long as they do not exceed 1% of the total volume. These additives can alter the taste, aroma, and appearance of tequila without consumers' knowledge.

At Pascale's Liquors, we are dedicated to sourcing the highest quality tequilas and mezcals that are free from additives and that uphold the true essence of these spirits. Visit our store to discover our additive-free options and indulge in the purest taste of exceptional spirits.

*The four tequila/mezcal recommendations promoted earlier in this article are all additive-free.

The Art of Tasting Tequila and Mezcal

To truly appreciate the flavors and aromas of tequila or mezcal, follow these steps:
  1. Select an appropriate glass, such as a whiskey or wine glass, to concentrate the aromas.
  2. Examine the color of the spirit to gauge the age and influence of oak.
  3. Gently swirl the spirit to release its aroma, then take a soft sniff, noting the variety of scents.
  4. Sip a small amount and let it coat your palate before swallowing.
  5. Finally, savor each sip, allowing the flavors to linger and evolve.

Identifying Quality Tequila and Mezcal

To ensure that you're enjoying a high-quality tequila, look for a label indicating it is made from 100% Blue Weber agave and bears the "100% Agave" mark. For mezcal, focus on traditional artisanal production methods and labels indicating "Certified Craft Mezcal." Both tequila and mezcal should have the Mexican government's seal of authenticity, known as the 'CRT' or 'CRM' mark.

Tequila and Mezcal Food Pairings

While these agave spirits are often enjoyed straight or mixed in cocktails, they can also enhance the flavors of various dishes. For lighter Mexican cuisine like ceviche, guacamole, or grilled shrimp tacos, pair with a blanco tequila like Lalo Blanco Tequila. Richer, slow-cooked dishes like chicken mole, carnitas, or barbacoa complement reposado tequilas like our Tres Agaves Reposado Barrel Pick. Añejo tequilas and, especially, extra añejo tequilas like Tears of Llorona, with their caramel and vanilla notes, pair perfectly with sweet desserts such as flan or chocolate cake. The smoky flavors of mezcal, like Mal Bien Mazcal, pair well with grilled meats or earthy, spicy dishes like chiles en nogada or roasted vegetables.
Shop Nick's Tequila & Mezcal Picks:
By Alden Morris