Monte Alban Mezcal

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Epinions Product Rating: Very Good
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I bought it So I Could Eat the Worm

Feb 7, 2002
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:Has that nasty worm in it... makes the girls squirm.

Cons:Smoky, charred-wood flavor.

The Bottom Line: Not tequila... a poor cousin, but interesting to try. Buy it for the worm and for bragging rights.

First, although this is a 100% agave product, it is not Tequila. It is not made from the Blue Agave plant.

Second, ...yes. This is one of the more popular Mezcal spirits that features an Agave (gusano) worm in every bottle.

Monte Alban Mezcal con Gusano
This is the No. 1 selling Mezcal in the United States.

This is an 80-proof (40% alcohol by volume) distilled spirit that is made (100%) from a variety of the Agave plant. Again, this is not Tequila, but a lot of Gringos will call it just that.

Most Mezcal is produced from a variety of Agave plants, including the Giant Agave, the Wild Silvestre, the Tobala, the Sotol, and -- most commonly -- the Espadin Agave.

Generally speaking, Mezcal is a more rustic, less refined, spirit when compared to Tequila. At least in my experience. In the production of Tequila, the pinas (core, or heart) of the Blue Agave plant is baked or steamed. In the production of Mezcal, the pinas of the Agave plant is slow roasted for several days over a fire. This roasting process imparts a smoky character to the spirit.

Most tequilas are double-distilled. Most Mezcals undergo a single distillation, and only the rare (and expensive) Pechuga variety of Mezcal is double distilled.

Monte Alban Mezcal con Gusano -- an 80 proof, 40% alcohol-by-volume spirit -- pours with a very pale, straw-yellow color and features a creamy-yet-oily Agave nose. The immediate flavor sensation is roasty, smoky and woody... like charred oak. There is a wood bark and slightly herbal quality to this drink at mid-palate. Nothing sweet or silky or smooth about this distillate. Kind of like a rustic Tequila, with nutty, earthy, and leafy tones added to the mix. Not a good spirit for mixing. This is something backwards and "rustic" that is to be enjoyed as a wild, hand-crafted, and organic spirit.

The Worm
Yes, this Mezcal ships with a worm at the bottom of the bottle. It is the Gusano worm, which is actually a moth larvae that lives in the Agave plant. Anyone who drinks this Mezcal, but does not chew the worm, is a wussy. Well, that's not true. Here's the straight story: in legend, this moth larvae, because it lives in and feeds on the Agave plant, is assumed to possess some POWER from the Agave plant. If you eat it, you ingest some of the Agave's power.

Eating the worm will not make you hallucinate.

Drinking a whole bottle of Mezcal will make you hallucinate (and worse!).

The worm has a vegetal flavor to it. It's slightly crunchy... and actually almost tasteless when compared to the over-powering smokiness of the Mezcal. Some of the worm's exoskeleton matter does not break-down very well and ends up tasting like the indigestible, cellulose portions of a leaf. I like the flavor of the worm and wouldn't mind consuming shots of this Mezcal if it contained a worm in every glass. Styrofoam packing peanuts almost have more flavor, but, then, I don't regularly eat Styrofoam packing peanuts so I am only making a general observation & a guess here. Don't worry about eating the worm. It has almost no flavor.

Price and Availability
I purchased this spirit at Beverages and More ( in Brea, California. Price: $24 per 750 ml bottle.

Interesting to try, but not a cheap substitute for Tequila. A totally different animal. Buy it for the worm and to impress friends. A fine spirit to chase a weak Mexican lager like Corona beer.

Verdict: 3-stars. It's okay. I prefer the taste of Tequila more. Really too expensive for what you get. I don't particularly recommend the purchase.

Recommend this product? No

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