Cráneo is an organic mezcal produced by 123 Spirits, the makers of the 123 Organic Tequila line. It exists outside the main line, acting as a sort of sister product to the tequila. And last week, I had the opportunity to taste it at their distribution center in Everett, Massachusetts.
Cráneo Mezcal comes in a remarkably handsome bottle made from hand-blown recycled glass, and the label depicts a cartoon skull that’s been turned into an agave planter–it’s pretty metal. The mezcal itself, which is made from 100% espadin agave, pours clear in the glass and has lots of agave on the nose.
It’s mildly warm on the tongue, and has a rich creamy texture. Notably, that immediate smoky flavor so associated with mezcals is absent here. The beginning is light and juicy, and its first flavors are bright and fruity. A bit of smoke appears as a char flavor emerges at the center of the palate, just as the heat starts to pick up. The spirit becomes warmer, but also creamier, with a long, satisfying ending that you can almost chew.
Cráneo delivers subtle, complex flavors and a fascinating texture that will interest mezcal lovers seeking a new experience. And by going down a different, decidedly less smoky route, it may also serve as a liquid olive branch to mezcal skeptics, too.
— 42% ABV
CE Rating: ★★★★
For another unique mezcal that bucks the smoky status quo, check out Gem & Bolt.