Why does mezcal not taste *that* much like smoke to me?
September 13, 2021 1:30 PM   Subscribe

Why does mezcal taste very strongly like smoke to some people, but only a hint of smoke to others?

Five of us tried the same watermelon mezcal cocktail, from the same exact glass, at a restaurant. Two people hated it and thought it tasted overwhelmingly like smoke, one loved it but also thought it tasted strongly like smoke, two thought it just tasted like a tequila drink with a hint of smokiness. I am one of the last two people, and I'm *not* the kind of drinker who likes the taste of any hard liquor when not mixed with fruit.

So -- why does mezcal taste like Not A Big Deal to me? This has happened at multiple other restaurants with different cocktails, as my SO is of the "overwhelming smoke" category.
posted by serelliya to Food & Drink (6 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
Best answer: Here's an article that posits this may have a genetic factor (in the context of scotch). A lot of people find smoky scotch totally unpalatable, so it seems reasonable to think there may be underlying differences here.

I would say that in general mescal has pretty highly varied levels of smokiness and I definitely wouldn't say that all mescal is smoky. Mescal often has strong flavours, but those don't always include smoke. Maybe some people are categorizing those strong flavours as smoke and you aren't?
posted by ssg at 2:00 PM on September 13 [4 favorites]


can't say why you don't taste smoke.

joven, añejo, and reposado all have differing barrel qualities. I'm no expert. plenty on the web.

smokiness comes from the agave cooking process - roasted on coals in an earthen pit covered with dirt.

mezcal 101
more
posted by j_curiouser at 3:10 PM on September 13 [1 favorite]


Because they are less atuned to that type of smokiness as a flavour in general.
posted by turkeyphant at 3:46 PM on September 13


Acecdata is pretty useless. I love smoked cheese. I love smoky wine and whiskey. I hate mezcal with a fiery passion, love tequila and hate liquid smoke.
posted by OrangeVelour at 4:01 PM on September 13


To add onto ssg’s post, there is an apparent genetic component to hating cilantro. It would not be surprising if many flavors had a similar issue. (Personally, it’s not the smokiness of mescal that turns me off, it’s another flavor in there that reminds me of Band-Aids.)
posted by ejs at 7:08 PM on September 13


Genetic component aside, many people are extremely sensitive to flavors they don't care for. For example, I don't like the taste of Aperol (an orange aperitivio) - I find it sickly sweet and unpleasant. It jumps out at me any time it's used in a cocktail, and then I don't really want that cocktail any more. I might say it's too much Aperol, but the reality is I don't like any Aperol at all. It's the equivalent of someone who doesn't like spicy food saying "this is far too spicy!" when you're thinking to yourself the food you're eating is far too bland.
posted by oneirodynia at 9:26 PM on September 13


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