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Weekend Sip: UFC champ Jorge Masvidal is behind this new mezcal — worms included

The bottle

Recuerdo Mezcal 5”KO Limited Edition Reposado, $60

The back story

This mezcal packs a punch — literally.

Recuerdo Mezcal is a brand owned in part by mixed martial arts (MMA) welterweight great Jorge “Gamebred” Masvidal. And this relatively new 5”KO release celebrates what is Masvidal’s most famous fight — when he knocked out Ben Askren in a mere five seconds on July 6, 2019, setting a new record in the history of the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), the promotion company behind the sport.

So, everything about this bottle revolves around the number five. The mezcal has been aged five months in American oak barrels. And there are five gusanos — that’s the Spanish name for the agave worms associated with mezcal — floating in the liquid.

The release arrives at a time when mezcal — which, like tequila, is made from the agave plant — has been surging in popularity. (Technically speaking, tequila is a type of mezcal.) From 2015 to 2019, annual exports to the U.S. of the Mexican-made spirit increased fivefold and reached 500,000 cases, according to one spirits industry report.

Meanwhile, MMA has become a sports-world phenomenon, with pay-per-view events regularly attracting more than one million customers.

So, it was perhaps only logical for someone to connect the dots and link mezcal and MMA. In this case, it was the Mexican company Casa Armando Guillermo Prieto, which is behind Recuerdo Mezcal and forged the partnership with Masvidal, who happens to be a fan of the agave-based spirit. The brand launched in the U.S. in early 2020 and is now carried in more than 20 states.

And, yes, the brand is all about the gusanos — or agave worms — which are not often seen in versions of mezcal that make their way to the U.S. (Though Recuerdo does have a bottle without the worms.)  Ana Lucía Cárdeno, Recuerdo Mezcal’s global senior brand manager, says the worm is often reserved for a distinguished member of the family. “It’s like an honor to eat the worm,” she says.

For those who are more about MMA than mezcal, take note: Masvidal is set to fight this weekend in Las Vegas.

What we think about it

This is a solid, relatively well-priced mezcal. The Mexican spirit is all about its signature smoky flavor, but the smoke here is tamed by an almost fruity, sweet taste (the brand says you should pick up notes of citrus, vanilla and chocolate). You will find mezcals on the market with a bit more heft and character, but this could be a good starting point for those new to the spirit.

And the worm? Truthfully, there’s nothing terribly offensive about it — it has almost no taste and its texture is akin to Cheetos that have been sitting in the rain all day (in other words, the crunch is gone). Still, I get that it’s probably not everyone’s thing.

How to enjoy it

The Recuerdo Mezcal team says this is best appreciated neat with a pinch of salt (specifically, agave worm salt if you can find it) and an orange wedge. But mezcal works well in a variety of cocktails, too. I found it substituted perfectly for tequila in a margarita, for example.

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