Ilegal Mezcal’s roots, as you can likely garner from the name, involve an illicit past. And as many illicit beginnings do, this one involves harrowing characters, stories, and dangerous journeys, which all resulted in Ilegal gracing the US market with their full line of Mezcals.
─ Behind the Brand ─
About Ilegal Mezcal
In 2004, native New Yorker, John Rexer moved to Guatemala where he opened Café No Sé, a bar he kept well stocked with the best mezcales he could find in Mexico. His journeys through Oaxaca took him to the producing towns Tlacolula, San Lorenzo, Sola De Vega, Santa Catarina Minas, Hierve el Agua, Santiago Matatlan, and illegally, back into Guatemala. Around 2006, Rexer created Ilegal mezcal as the house brand for Café No Sé, which he, and his fantastic team of mezcaleros, brand educators, and creatives, have built into one of the best known Mezcal brands in the world.
Ilegal is made from 100% espadín agave sourced near Tlacolula de Matamoros, Oaxaca, Mexico and is certified Artesanal by the CRM. They’re one of the first mezcal brands to include aged expressions in their portfolio, Ilegal Reposado, aged 4 months in American oak barrels and Ilegal Añejo, aged 13 months in a blend of American and French oak barrels. The team at Ilegal sometimes refers to their mezcals as “rough-luxe”: elegant for sipping, but also fantastic and appropriate in a cocktail. Ilegal’s mezcals are agave forward, and created a wonderful balance between agave sweetness and chipotle smokiness, perfect for those Tequila lovers, eager to enter the mezcal category.
In addition to producing the leading artisanal mezcal in the US, Ilegal is leading the way on corporate responsibility. They aren’t shy about their opposition to President Donald Trump’s “racist, sexist, dangerous statements,” launching the campaign “Donald Eres Un Pendejo” to raise $25,000 for Niños De Guatemala and other organizations, including Planned Parenthood, Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, and NYSYLC, producing Semaine’s short politically fueled film The Emperor, and promoting ongoing art exhibits at their Manhattan HQ to provide a space and encourage peaceful expression. (Noah Lehava, Coveteur)
NOM-O01X, NOM-O134X, NOM-O305X, NOM-O423X
Location: Tlacoula, Oaxaca
Cooking: Earthen Pit
Fermentation:Natural Fermentation in Pine Vats
Distillation: Copper /Steel