It may not be as dramatic as the first time someone combined peanut butter and jelly or rum and Coke, but the blending of tequila and mezcal is pretty heady stuff — if for no other reason than that it hasn’t been done before, at least commercially.
Both south-of-the-border spirits are made from the agave plant, though tequila must, by law, be made from one particular species, Weber blue agave (Agave tequilana), while mezcal can be produced from any agave plant. Additionally, tequila is primarily produced in the state of Jalisco (where the town of Tequila is located) — though some is also made in three neighboring states and in Tamaulipas to the east — while mezcal is generally associated with the state of Oaxaca, farther south.
The idea of bringing the two agave spirits together was born when two tequila drinkers of some renown, Hall of Fame rocker Sammy Hagar and his co-star on The Voice, singer and actor Adam Levine of Maroon 5, were hanging out together in Cabo San Lucas, at the southern tip of Baja California. (Hagar owns Cabo’s Cabo Wabo Cantina, along with a line of tequilas under the Cabo Wabo name.) What started as a crazy idea became a quest. Before all the financial planning sessions and the branding meetings took place, you can almost hear Hagar humming to himself: “Straight from my heart, oh tell me why can't this be love?”
Hagar and Levine’s concept was brought to reality by third-generation master distiller Juan Eduardo Nuñez, who performed the marriage of mezcal and tequila at the El Viejito distillery in Jalisco. “When Adam and I started tasting the different blends, I knew we had something special that people would love,” Hagar has said. Thus, the two became the co-creators of Santo Mezquila, launched a few weeks ago.
Made from a combination of blue agave and espadin agave, Santo weighs in at 80 proof. The aromas and flavors are intriguing. On the nose, there is the smokiness of mezcal (but without the sweetish stewed vegetable character) and the salty smell of the sea. On the palate, there is a deftness of woven strands of smoke, dried herbs, and tropical fruits that keep repeating through the finish and aftertaste.
The square bottle, framed in basalt black with a cross-shaped label, retails for about $55.