Montella Spirits & Wine



Agave 101

Mezcal, being an artisanal spirit with deep roots in many Mexican communities, has biocultural as well as sensorial importance. It has endless possibilities in aroma and flavour creation, but given its strength, it’s important that we follow the following tasting steps in order to enjoy mezcal to its fullest potential!


We always start by having a sip of water. It’s important to keep yourself hydrated so as to have enough saliva to properly taste the mezcal. Next, take a tiny sip of mezcal (a kiss as we say). Take a good 5 seconds to completely coat your mouth and swallow. The first thing we will notice are the trigeminal sensations of alcohol heat and spiciness. These sensations are detected by branches of the trigeminal nerve in your face and are not considered flavours.

Step 1 - Coat Your Mouth: Take a small sip and move it around your mouth, coating it completely for five seconds and swallow.


Step 2 - Repeat: This time with a little bit more mezcal. Focus on other sensations.

The second step is to have another sip of water and then to repeat the process, this time with a slightly larger sip of mezcal. Coat your mouth again and swallow. This time, the heat and spiciness should start to diminish and we should be able to start to focus on the remaining trigeminal sensations (freshness, acridity, astringency and unctuousness).


The third step is to detect flavours. These are detected by your taste buds on your tongue and the inside of your mouth and then sent to your brain to be distinguished as a certain flavour. The 5 basic flavours are: salty, sweet, sour, bitter and umami.

Take another sip of water and then a sip of mezcal. Enjoy it, swallow it and breathe out through your mouth. What did you detect? Mezcal doesn’t have any chemical compounds that are related to umami nor salty; however, upon mixing with your saliva it’s sometimes possible to detect a salty note. We can also start to think about more complex flavours such as: floral, citric, herbal, woody and smoky.

Step 3 - Detect Tastes: Take a slightly bigger sip, enjoy it, swallow it and breathe out through your mouth.


Step 4 - Detect Aromas: Smell the mezcal. Next, take a sip, enjoy it, swallow and breathe out through your nose. Try to focus on aromas we didn't find by smelling.

The last step is to detect the aromas of the mezcal. We’ll do it two ways: orthonasal and retronasal. We’ll start with orthonasal, aromas detected by taking in air into the nasal cavity, basically smelling the mezcal!

What did you detect? (e.g. floral, citric, fruity). Next, take a sip of mezcal. Enjoy it, swallow it and breathe out through your nose. Focus on the aromas that we may have missed. This is known as retronasal.