Bosscal Pechuga de Conejo Mezcal Review

Drink Reviews mezcal
Bosscal Pechuga de Conejo Mezcal Review

At this point in my spirits-drinking and spirits-writing journey, it’s safe to say I’ve gotten to the point where “firsts” have become increasingly rare. It’s not often these days that I get to indulge in trying an entirely new category of spirits, or a drink that is significantly different in flavor or technique from anything I’ve had before. But pechuga? That’s a substyle of mezcal I’ve certainly read about, but never tasted until now. Famously made with the assistance of raw chicken, turkey, rabbit or other meat, mezcal de pechuga is a traditional Mexican specialty spirit, a potable designated for celebrations and significant moments. To the American palate, it sounds particularly exotic, and perhaps a little questionable. But when I had a chance to sample Bosscal Pechuga de Conejo, one of the few examples hitting American markets, I wasn’t about to pass it up.

Pechuga typically differs from traditional mezcals in a few key ways. Like all mezcal, this is a product of agave, which is roasted in underground pits, imparting the typically smoky flavor for which the traditional Mexican spirit is known. But whereas most mezcals are distilled twice, pechuga undergoes a third pot still distillation in which the vapor from the boiling liquid passes through a selected protein, traditionally chicken or turkey breast, though some producers also use rabbit. This cooks the meat, allowing the juices and fat to drip/fall back into the boiling liquid. This animal product is all left behind in the distillation process, though theoretically it is said to impart a fuller body and potential “meatiness” to the spirit. Additionally, pechugas also typically get an addition of some form of fruit, herbs, nuts or spices in the still during that third distillation. The result is a complex, heady spirit that is often saved and rationed out for celebrations such as weddings, baptisms, etc. Pechugas are unaged, and it would not be traditional at all to stick one in an oak barrel.

Bosscal’s Pechuga de Conejo, meanwhile, uses an entire skinned rabbit in its third distillation, along with the infusion of local apples, only when said apples are in season. It is bottled at 42% ABV (84 proof), with an MSRP of $99 that is significantly higher than the approachable joven mezcal from the same brand. This is common, as the celebratory nature of pechuga typically makes them much more expensive.

Needless to say, I was extremely curious to see how these flavors might come through in Bosscal’s mezcal, especially in terms of whether there would be any true indication that the rabbit was involved. So with that said, let’s get to tasting.

On the nose, Bosscal Pechuga de Conejo presents a panoply of herbal notes that register as both fresh and savory. It is fairly complex, with roasted agave that is joined by mint, pine resin, green apple, rosemary and other herbs de Provence. There’s a suggestion of salt, but only mild elements of smoke–which makes sense, because the Bosscal Joven mezcal was also quite mild on the smoke. Is there anything to really announce the presence of the rabbit? Not as such–it does beg the question, though, what would you even be looking for on the nose in order to note that?

On the palate, the smoke and roastiness actually comes forward in a more assertive way than on the nose, joined by sweet mint and roasted agave. The apple fruitiness is definitely a major player here, giving the profile a sweet-tart dimension, supported by salty, savory herbal notes. The sweetness is pretty considerable, some of it probably contributed by the apple, though it reads as both candy apple and candied grapefruit or orange. As for the rabbit, it’s really hard to say–there’s perhaps a savoriness and exotic X-factor that you could attribute to it, but how much of that is placebo effect? Regardless, the overall profile strikes me as sweeter and more assertive than the brand’s regular joven mezcal, though missing some of that brand’s easygoing balance.

At the end of the day, this pechuga is a fun experiment to taste, though perhaps not as exotic as the average American consumer might expect it to be. That’s not a criticism; merely an assessment of its flavors, which embrace the apple in a more notable way than its other star ingredient.

Distillery: Bosscal Mezcal
Region: Durango, Mexico
Style: Mezcal de pechuga
ABV: 42% (84 proof)
Availability: 750 ml bottles, $99 MSRP

Jim Vorel is a Paste staff writer and resident beer and liquor geek. You can follow him on Twitter for more drink writing.

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