Adventure is waiting for you
Adventurous spirits for adventurous spirits. With a tag line like that, ‘Off the Still’ sounds right up my street.
Article by Catherine Ferguson
31Dover promises to lead members on a voyage of discovery and flavour, unearthing the most delicious liquids and remarkable bottles. They’ll be taken on an adventure each month, discovering the stories behind the bottle straight from the producers, who reveal tales of their early successes and failures and the secrets behind how they created their very own nectars.
Launched in September, the first package was an adventure at my very own kitchen table. The lid of the box was emblazoned with a curious map full of forests, castles and mountains, leading to a bottle of Mezcal Verde – which has certainly been conspicuous by its absence from my drinks cabinet to date.
While most of us are familiar with tequila, some might say that Mezcal is its lesser-known cousin. Whereas tequila is typically produced from steaming agave in ovens and distilling it in copper pots, the production of mezcal is something rather more magical.
Made from the piña (heart) of the agave plant, grown in remote areas of the Oaxaca valley, it’s cooked in subterranean pits lined with hot rocks, which caramelise the plant, producing an abundance of smoky flavours. We’re told that, according to legend, mezcal wasn’t always distilled, but was born when a lightning bolt hit the heart of an agave plant, thus creating the smoky spirit.
Mezcal Verde is of an artisanal category, such that the Mexican government dictate that it must be ground with a stone, naturally fermented and roasted in deep pits filled by hand before being distilled. Dug two metres into the ground, it’s covered in earth and left for seven to ten days before being milled in an Egyptian mill, naturally fermented in wooden vats and double distilled in a copper pot still. And boy, oh boy does it hit the spot. The smokiness is like nothing else – perhaps akin to that of a Laphroaig whisky, but with a sunshine-filled twist.
Alongside the Mezcal Verde in this month’s box of tricks, we also find Sekforde mixers, specially crafted for tequila and mezcal. A blend of prickly pear, fig and cardamom bitters in sparkling spring water, yet again, it’s like nothing I’ve ever tasted. A generous shot of mezcal with ice and Sekforde feels like a tipple that should be enjoyed round the embers of a burning fire pit on a warm summer’s night, somewhere much more exotic than my back garden in Cheshire – but hey, it’ll do for now. The flavour combinations are right on point and seem to make the perfect marriage in the glass – that said, the mezcal is so smooth, fruity and smoky that purists would enjoy it solo, as nature intended.
Ashika Mathews, Director of Buying at DMD, parent company of 31DOVER, says “Off the Still means signing up for a journey of discovery – it’s for those who want to take a leap into the wide and thrilling world of spirits with us as their guide…We’ll be conjuring the spirit of adventuring and exploring, to ensure members feel like they’re being transported to where these amazing bottles are made.” We can most definitely raise a glass of Mezcal Verde and drink to that.
Enquiries: Off The Still/ offthestill.com