Casamigos Joven Mezcal is the youngest brainchild of George Clooney and Rande Gerber. Produced in Oaxaca with 100% espadin agave, the spirit is produced by a 4th generation family of Mezcaleros.
When Clooney & Gerber launched Casamigos in the United States, it all looked like a big marketing stunt. At that time, it was not yet ordinary for a celebrity to venture into the world of alcohol. And actually, the two friends did not release it to make big money, but to produce tequila to their liking. But fate had other plans.
Mezcal Joven means that this type of mezcal doesn't age in barrels. Typically young and un-aged spirits tend to be a bit rough and harsh. Barrel aging makes spirits smoother and softer in taste. But I want to say this upfront: this mezcal is smooth. Unfortunately, it lacks a few other things I will explain in detail in my Casamigos Joven Mezcal review.
And since their tequila is of excellent quality, I took the chance to try and review Casamigos Mezcal Joven and compare their tequila to mezcal. Plus, I also tested it in some mezcal drink recipes.
Casamigos Mezcal Joven Review Summary
- Produced By: Casamigos
- Owned By: Diageo (since 2017), before George Clooney, Rande Gerber, and Mike Meldman
- Product Website: Product Website
- Production Location: Oaxaca, Mexico
- Classification: Joven Mezcal
- Agave type: Espadin / Agave Angustifolia
- Aroma: Delicate notes of smoke, hints of agave, minerality, and herbal notes
- Aging: No Age Statement (NAS)
- Proof: 40% ABV
- Price: $60 / 750 ml
- Overall Rating: 3/5
Once opening the bottle and pour the mezcal into a glass, you can see how crystal clear it is. That is precisely what an unaged mezcal should look like.
Overall, the nose of the spirit is relatively thin. You get some delicate notes of agave, mineral nuances, and herbal tones of fresh mint. However, they mainly disappear behind minty herbal notes, cedar wood, smoke, and a hint of clay. If you let it sit for a while and let it breathe by swirling it in the glass, the spirit develops some slightly fruity notes. And you can detect an ever-so-slight hint of tropical fruits like papaya. But, as I said, that only happens once you let it breathe for a while.
After taking a sip, smoky flavors dominate the palate. Besides these delicate tones of smoke, the taste is pretty thin. The flavor is smoky, almost ashy, and acidic, with additional smoky notes in the finish. You can get some hints of agave and a little bit of sweetness, but overall, there's little to no complexity and depth of flavor.
Along with the long silky finish, you get some black pepper notes that quickly fade. Overall, not bad but also not great.
The mezcal actually gains complexity when served chilled or on ice. Typically spirits are more complex when served at room temperature, as the cold prevents aromas and flavors from expanding. In this case, however, the ice helps to mute the smoke and highlights other flavors in the spirit.
Finally, I could detect distinct notes of licorice, sweet agave, hints of oregano and thyme, and fresh herbal mint aromas. In the background, there are hints of tamarind and fruity notes of pomegranate, banana, and mango.
After a bit, the smoky flavors begin to expand. Towards the finish, fresh lemon zest, black pepper spice, and herbal mint notes round off the experience.
Mezcal is traditionally enjoyed neat. And while this mezcal is not the ideal choice for sipping neat, you can still use it in cocktails. We created a list of mezcal drink recipes you can use with your Casamigos Mezcal.
First, we tried the mezcal in a classic Mezcal Margarita. I was surprised that the smoky notes of the spirit doesn't shine through as much as I expected. However, in combination with Cointreau and fresh lime juice, there was an excellent balance of flavors and enough earthy smokiness to balance the tart flavors. combination
If you search for a mezcal that blends well with the other ingredients of this drink, this one does the trick. However, if you look for something that stands out and is the star of the cocktail, you should look for something else.
A Mezcal Paloma is a simple combination of mezcal and grapefruit soda. I hoped this would bring out the fruity flavors of the spirit accentuated by some smoky notes. However, the smoke is almost completely muted, and once it shines through, it distracts rather than complements the fresh and fruity grapefruit component.
Adding a bit of fresh lime juice (approximately 0.25 oz) helped to combine both components, but overall, it was my least favorite of the three drinks I tried.
I love mezcal-based Negronis. The smoky and earthy notes of mezcal go so well with the bittersweet taste of Campari and sweet vermouth. Ideally, the mezcal should have enough smoky notes to dominate the cocktail. Unfortunately, Casamigos can't deliver on that.
The cocktail was balanced and enjoyable but lacked the smoky punch I anticipate when using a mezcal base. If you're new to the agave spirit or prefer milder smoky notes, this could be a great drink. On the other hand, for $60 per bottle, you can get plenty of quality mezcals.
The bottle design is probably the most unique part of this spirit. A dark, almost black-colored glass bottle with a rough and edgy texture. As Rande Gerber stated in an interview, he wanted to create something unique that's more than just a vessel for the agave spirit.
"I wanted our bottle to have the personality of the family who makes our mezcal. It’s authentic, hand-made, uniquely textured, smoky, edgy, and changes as it gets passed around. I have a feeling these bottles won’t be thrown away after they are finished."
The bottle was designed in cooperation with Becky Diemer. The graphic designer states on her website that the spirit demanded something distinct and unique. The first idea was to create a bottle out of hand-blown ‘bubble glass’. As this turned out to be too labor and cost-intensive, they decided to create a rough and dark glass bottle design that interacts with all kinds of materials like dust, liquid, and touches.
This unique idea and the unique process of making the bottles ensure that no two bottles are the same.
Casamigos Mezcal is a Joven Mezcal made of 100% espadin agaves and is a brand founded by George Clooney and his buddy Rande Gerber in 2013. Before they launched their Joven Mezcal, Casamigos already had three different types of Tequila - A Blanco, a Reposado, and an Añejo expression.
The history of the mezcal is tightly knit to their tequila. When Clooney and his friend Gerber came up with Casamigos, they intended to produce tequila to their taste. The plan was not to make money with it, but they merely enjoyed the idea of making a spirit to their personal preference. They named their brand Casamigos, a combination of the words casa and amigos, meaning house and friends - house of friends.
And as ever so often, when you only want to produce something good and don't run after the money, the result is something special. Soon, Casamigos Tequila turned out to be an enormous success. The tequila is of high quality and can easily compete with other premium tequilas. Of course, the fact that Clooney was one of the masterminds behind the project helped to gain traction quickly.
At one point, when the two friends were proudly promoting their work, they had the chance to try a mezcal they fell in love with it. They knew they didn't have the capacity to launch another spirit at that time, but picked up the idea again a few years later. They contacted the distillery and began trying to produce the -tastewise- exact mezcal they had been tasting years ago.
Back in 2017, Casamigos was sold to spirits giant Diageo. In a 1 billion dollar deal, they purchased the brand for a base of $700 million with an additional $300 based on performance.
In 2018, just one year after selling the company to Diageo, they finally released their Casamigos Mezcal Joven.
Espadín agaves, scientifically known as Agave angustifolia, are the heart and soul of mezcal production. These agaves are native to the Oaxaca region of Mexico and are favored for their relatively short maturation period of 8 to 12 years, making them ideal for mezcal production.
Once matured, the piñas (the core of the agave plant) are harvested, roasted, and then crushed to extract their sweet juices, which are then fermented and distilled to create the flavorful and smoky mezcal.
The distinct character of espadín agaves contributes to the rich and diverse world of mezcal, making them a cherished and vital component in this revered Mexican spirit.
Where is it produced?
Casamigos Mezcal is produced in Oaxaca, Mexico, the most famous region for mezcal production. Casamigos sources its agaves from family-owned farms in Oaxaca, where traditional methods are employed to cultivate and harvest the agave plants.
The mezcal is carefully crafted using time-honored techniques, including slow-roasting the agave piñas in underground pits, stone milling, natural fermentation, and double distillation in copper pot stills.
Pros & Cons
- Unique bottle design
- Smoke-forward aroma and taste (neat)
- Lacking complexity when consumed neat
- Not standing out in mezcal cocktails
- Value for money
Casamigos Mezcal vs. Tequila
To keep this discussion short, their tequila is much better than their mezcal. my favorite expression of their product line is the Casamigos Añejo Tequila. An amazingly smooth, aged Tequila with a rich and complex flavor profile.
Casamigos Tequila is a quite popular choice. I mean, why else would Diageo pay up to $1 billion for a tequila brand? And even though some reviews describe the tequila as an overpriced celebrity release, there are countless other, more positive voices. Some even compare the Casamigos Blanco Tequila with Patrón. A comparison that, for me, Patrón wins clearly. Nevertheless, it shows at what level Casamigos' creations are traded.
Their mezcal is not on the same level. Maybe, if they put some more work into the recipe and production, I could change my mind. But right now, it is nowhere near the quality of their tequila.
This mezcal is not a bad one overall. It's okay to sip neat, quite good on the rocks, and okay but not great in cocktails. The biggest problem I have with this spirit is the high price point.
Qualitywise this spirit is mid-shelf, but price-wise it's within the league of exceptional mezcal bottles. If you're keen on trying it, I would highly recommend not buying a whole bottle but trying it in a bar or a tasting first.
If you love the bottle design or don't care too much about the price, you could also give it a go and see how you like it. To be fair, the bottle itself looks exceptional and makes for a great addition to any home bar shelf.