Our neighbors here in San Diego are working on a bed & breakfast in the state of Jalisco, Mexico, where they live near the Destileria Los 2 Compadres. After they learned of my interest in whiskey (and spirits in general), they went out of their way to pick up a bottle of the destileria’s whiskey. They brought it back for me, and in exchange they asked me to write a review of the product.
Before I write anything more, I should start with a disclaimer that, while I have tried a lot of whiskeys and have a decent library to compare against, I don’t have any experience reviewing whiskeys or giving tasting notes. So, please take all of this with a huge grain of salt.
Let’s start with the description from the destileria’s web site:
Our Single Cask Sour Mash Whiskey is a 100% Azteca Maize corn whiskey, aged to perfection in charred French oak wine barrels. Subtle notes of vanilla, caramel and chocolate with slightest hint of sweet berries combine with the flavor of the sour mash to produce the finest Mexican Whiskey ever made.
This tells us a couple things that the bottle doesn’t. First, that the whiskey uses a 100% corn mash bill. If you’re not familiar with whiskey, a mash bill is the recipe of grains used in the production of the beer-like product that is eventually distilled to produce the whiskey. In a single malt scotch, the mash bill is 100% barley. Bourbons use a mash bill of at least 51% corn, usually with a small amount of rye or wheat. American rye whiskey is at least 51% rye.
Second, we learn that the whiskey is aged in charred french oak wine barrels. This is also interesting, because it differs from the process used for many other whiskeys. Bourbon, by definition, must be aged in new barrels made from American White Oak. There are fewer restrictions on the use of barrels for scotch whiskey, but often scotch is aged in used bourbon barrels. Sometimes used sherry butts are used for aging or finishing the whiskey. In a finishing process, the whiskey might be aged in a bourbon barrel for most of its life but then transferred into a different barrel (sherry, madeira, sauternes, and red wine barrels are some of the barrel types that might be employed for finishing). The use of french wine barrels in the Los 2 Compadres whiskey may be responsible for the darker color in this whiskey than I would expect from a young whiskey.
That brings us to the one unknown in the production of this whiskey, which is its age. There is no age statement on the bottle, nor on the web site. This isn’t surprising, because I believe the destileria is fairly new and thus the whiskey must be fairly young.
Now, my tasting notes. Note that I did not read the destileria’s description until after I came up with my own description.
Nose: butterscotch, caramel, agave
Mouth: agave, slight raisins & leather
Finish: short and sour (but not unpleasantly so)
You’ll notice that my notes differ from the notes provided by the destileria. We agree on caramel, which I find to be fairly strong on the nose though much less noticeable in the mouth. I didn’t pick up on the chocolate, even after reading the destileria’s notes and tasting again. I can understand the vanilla note upon retasting.
Another difference in my interpretation is the notes of agave that both I and my wife picked up upon smelling and tasting this whiskey. We had actually guessed that the whiskey might be aged or finished in a former tequila or mezcal barrel, though apparently that is not the case. Part of this taste may come from the young age of the whiskey, which I suspect is similar in age to the tequila and mezcal that we typically drink. Perhaps we are really tasting the youth of the spirit instead of agave.
Overall, both my wife and I found the whiskey to be very drinkable and enjoyable. I’m not sure it will be my first choice off the shelf (it does have a lot of competition in my liquor cabinet), but I will definitely look forward to new, further aged, expressions from this distillery.