Review: Monte Alban Mezcal

Monte Alban is perhaps the most widely available mezcal on the market, but that doesn’t mean it’s rotgut.

Monte Alban may lack sophistication, but it’s a fine entry point into the mezcal arena. Briny and with the distinct smell of sweat, it comes across as hot. But a little judicious sipping shows that Monte Alban has more to it than that. The palest gold in color, its smoke character is moderate, not overdone, with some fruitiness in the finish. The salty character remains throughout, but it’s not as biting as the initial approach would lead you to think.

80 proof, and every bottle includes a worm — even the 50ml minis.

B / $23 /

monte alban mezcal

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8 Responses

  1. gal granov July 19, 2009 / 12:18 am

    when i was in mexico for my honeymoon,i bought this one. was cheaper in mex…
    maybe 10$.
    havent opened it so far. i just like the “guzano” isnide…

  2. levi April 26, 2011 / 9:02 pm

    Best mezcal for the dollar. There are days I perfer this over any tequilla

  3. Capn Jimbo's Rum Project July 17, 2012 / 7:49 am

    At The Rum Project we’ve reviewed over 150 spirits, including this interesting Mezcal. It is fair to say that Mezcal has not enjoyed the heavy duty marketing (and overpricing) of tequila – a spirit that is barely aged but often commands outrageous prices. Mezcal has an unearned reputation as being a poor and rural cousin of tequila, a very undeserved reputation.

    The prestigious (and honest) Beverage Tasting Institute and their professional panel gave this mezcal a very credible 85 – “highly recommended”.. It was described as having “…Smoky agave, grilled pineapple, and prairie fire aromas…” and tastes of “…grilled jicama, prune, and light petrolly mineral flavors.”.

    Mezcals are known of course for agave flavors, but more interestingly smoky fruit tones (like grilled pineapple). For those that like grilling (and who doesn’t), this is most attractive. On our own tasting we found nicely integrated aromas of a smoky, fruity and earthy agave which led to a lite smooth entry which grew thicker with a nice bit of oil, completely consistent throughout and leaving a beautifully balanced peppery sweet finish and aftertaste.

    For a lousy $19 this flavoral spirit beats the pants off of most of the (more expensive) tequilas we’ve tried. It has a lovely smoky and fruity character, yet doesn’t forget the impact we expect with an agave based spirit. We think its a must buy, best buy for the price.

  4. caligirl September 21, 2012 / 4:39 pm

    jimbo: i hope by “petrolly mineral flavors” you don’t mean petroleum??? i bought a bottle of this and was a little scared to try it because of internet reviews/trashings, but your review makes me wanna open it up and take a sip. thanks for the details!

  5. Edoc September 24, 2012 / 11:40 am

    He does mean petroleum!!!

    Mezcal is made by roasting (smoldering, really) espadin agave in a fire-pit prior to the distillation process. The fire-pit imparts intense flavors of smoke and tar, like there’s a camp-fire in your mouth! That may sound off-putting, but in the smoky profile there is often mineral and sometimes slight saltiness, and vague fruit flavors (but hey, I’ve never tasted a mezcal where the fruit stands out above the smoke).

    Due to the smoky “petrolly” bomb that is mezcal, it’s pretty difficult to mix into cocktails. If you add even a small amount to a sweet margarita, you will be able to taste the smoke! So drink it straight, as a sipper, preferably next to a campfire.

    But, because of (not in spite of) this, if you’re an adventurous or intellectually curious person, you should try it. It’s a unique experience, and it may grow on you.

  6. Jasper November 2, 2015 / 11:30 am

    This is one of the few types of mezcal sold in the UK, and is way better than any of the widely available tequila brands. It goes down a treat with my home-made chili con carne, particularly as I add a small amount of mezcal to the pot while it’s cooking.

  7. Anonymous July 6, 2016 / 2:15 pm

    Mescal and fresh squeezed lime and a pinch of margarita salt makes a very refreshing drink.

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