Review: Ilegal Mezcal

Puritans, be advised: Two Ls or three, Ilegal Mezcal is certainly legal, although the rustic labels and wax-sealed cork stoppers may make you think otherwise.

This small batch mezcal from the Oaxaca region of Mexico is hand numbered and produced in very small lots (typically under 2,000 bottles per lot). All 100 percent agave, of course, and all three are 80 proof. All three bottles reviewed below are part of lot #1.

Ilegal Mezcal Joven – Far less smoky than most mezcals, this is a smooth and velvety mezcal that could easily pass for a slightly brash tequila. Zesty with huge agave character up front, then a tangy lemon and citrus finish. The body is moderate and a touch hot, but it’s refined and easygoing. If you like your mezcal on the smoky side, I expect this won’t strike your fancy. Most of you will love the hell out of it. A- / $60

Ilegal Mezcal Reposado – After 4 to 5 months in new oak, Ilegal takes on a whole new character, buttery in the body and showing more smoke, with a butterscotch, creme brulee-like tone to it. Actually too sweet by quite a bit, I appreciate the attempt to balance savory smoke with sweet candy, but it comes off as a bit wild and unbalanced. B+ / $80

Ilegal Mezcal Anejo (pictured) – Spends a full year in oak, and the characteristics of the Reposado are amped up even further. More smoke, and more sweetness. Almost bacon-like with the blend of sweet and savory. This has a bit more balance but its richness is almost too decadent. A very powerful and unique mezcal, and pricy. B+ / $120

ilegalmezcal.com [BUY IT NOW FROM CASKERS!]


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7 Responses to Review: Ilegal Mezcal

  1. I’ve read great things about this Mezcal and the del Maguey offerings (and Sombra Mezcal). Now I just have to find them.

  2. You can currently find Ilegal Mezcal in several bars around New York, Chicago, Colorado, California and Dallas. For a list of places go to this link. It’s not 100% updated but you can try your luck there.
    http://www.ilegalmezcal.com/where.php

    If you are not near those regions, you can always get it online: http://www.drinkupny.com

    Good luck and enjoy.

  3. I have a bottle of Ilegal Mezcal Anejo being shipping from Pappy’s Liquor in St Pete Beach, FL. The family owned store has an attached restaurant named Agave that serves delicious Mexican food and is where I tried the reposado version of this mezcal. I highly recommend the store, the restaurant, and the liquor! Ricky and Nina Madison of Pappy’s Liquor can be reached at 727 367 2141 and found at 6406 Gulf Blvd, St Pete Beach, FL 33706.

  4. Thanks guys. I see that Astor Wines in NYC carries it! That’s not too far away from me.

  5. The New York Times reviewed a bunch of Mezcals yesterday:

    http://events.nytimes.com/2010/08/18/dining/reviews/18wine.html?hpw

    Illegal gets an interesting description: “Unusual combination of vegetal, smoke, pepper and meat flavors.”

  6. I’ve had quite a lot of this at Matador Cantina in Fullerton, California, including at a six-course tasting dinner paired with food–each expression served neat and in a cocktail. It is EXCELLENT.

  7. I found some Reposado at the State Liquor store in Draper, UT. It may be at all stores in Utah. I have not seen it in Jersey, Maryland, Virginia and DC while there looking. I have not tasted it yet though.

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