Mezcal's Agave Spirits Make Their U.S. Debut

A boozy Cinderella story

Mezcal is smoking hot right now.

The higher-proof, fire-pit-cooked agave spirit has gone from tequila's country cousin to the belle of the ball.

Named after a colloquialism in Mexico for "alcoholic drink," Alipús Mezcal is one of Mexico's most beloved brands–and became available in the United States for the first time last fall. The bottling captures the terroir of the Oaxacan mountain ranges, but at a price accessible for mezcal ($43 for 750 ml).

The U.S. debut entails three versions, each made from farmed espadín agave, but grown in different altitudes and terrains, and distilled by the hands of three different mezcaleros. The collection is a fascinating study: It is proof that mezcals can be as complex as single-malts.

San Juan Del Rio: Don Joel Cruz dry-farms his high-altitude espadín agave and ferments it in oak vats for the iteration. The taste is fruity, sweet and lightly spicy.

San Andrés: Don Valente Angel grows his agave at 5,000 feet and ferments it in Cyprus vats. The result is a harmonious relationship between fruit and alcohol.

San Baltazar Guélavila: Made by Don Cosmé Hernandez from agave grown at 5,700 feet, this bottling tastes most abruptly of smoke and menthol.