Montelobos Mezcal Pechuga. (Photo: Peter Zimmermann)

A trip to Chicago is always a good idea. Whether visiting family or catching a show, chances are you are going to have a great meal (or two) along the way. After all, Chicago is one of the premier food cities in the US. This past summer, we returned to Rick Bayless’ restaurant Topolobompo and sampled their Puebla tasting menu.

With foods inspired by this region, we enjoyed a leisurely seven-course tasting menu that featured the blending of native and Spanish influences. A Mole Poblano with guinea hen was served with hen the woods mushrooms and baby eggplant. Chili peppers, finger limes, croquettes and lamb tongue were also featured along with a variety of well-matched wines. For dessert, we enjoyed fresh corn cakes with ice cream, pepitas, blackberries and candied melon. We asked our server to pair something to enjoy with our final course. He returned with a bottle of Montelobos Pechuga.

“Mezcal? For dessert?” I was intrigued.

Montelobos Pechuga is a mezcal built upon five centuries of history and tradition. It was founded in 2011 by Iván Saldaña, a distiller and biologist who worked with mezcal producers in Oaxaca and Puebla, Mexico. Along with partner Don Lopez, the pair produces mezcal traditionally, with conservation and sustainability in mind. Montelobos or “Wolf Mountain” has also partnered with the Wolf Conservation Center, a non-profit group that is dedicated to the conservation of wolf populations in North America.

Crafted using only traditional methods, a variety of agaves grown organically without herbicides or pesticides. Ripe Espadin agave hearts are slowly roasted in underground stone pits for 5 days. After roasting, they are then crushed and the juice is extracted. The juice is then fermented in pine vats. After fermentation, the mezcal undergoes two distillations. The third and final distillation features the addition of a kosher turkey breast, seasonal fruits and spices to the still. The turkey breast (“pechuga” in Spanish) is hung in the cap of the still and is said to “soften the distillate,” removing harshness and adding a rounded softness to the spirit.

Our server emerged with the bottle and sherry glasses. Upon pouring, the spirit shimmered clearly with a slight viscosity. On the nose, I enjoyed the aroma of rich stone fruit and toasted citrus rind. The fruitiness was followed by the pleasant lingering aroma of roasted marshmallow and light clove. On the palate, it was pleasantly balanced, with fruit notes and citrus evolving into a velvety, brûléed smokiness with a very long finish that lingered pleasantly. The 47.9% ABV made it a perfect match for our dessert. Our server informed us that Pechuga is usually reserved for special occasions like weddings and holidays. He was spot-on with his recommendation and it enhanced our dining experience perfectly.

This very special spirit seems tailor-made for the month of November and serves as an ideal beverage for those who can’t get enough turkey.

Available at Total Wine and Spirits and other retailers.