What is mezcal? Mezcal is an alcoholic drink distilled from the agave plant. The term ‘mezcal’ itself essentially means ‘oven-cooked agave’.
Mezcal has been a popular beverage in Mexico for hundreds of years although the exact origin is not determined. We do know that before the Spanish colonised, the agave plant had sacred status in Mexico.
Unlike tequila which is made exclusively from the blue agave plant, mezcal can be made from any of the 30+ varieties of agave.
Another difference to tequila production is that mezcal tends to be produced on a smaller scale, often within families in small batches.
In Mexico there are around 9,000 mezcal producers making around 6 million litres of mezcal for about 150 brand names.
The majority of mezcal is enjoyed in Mexico but the largest export destinations are the USA and Japan.
There are many different types of mezcal, some of the most popular types are agave used for mezcal include tobalá, tobaziche, tepeztate, arroqueño and espadín.
Mezcal is produced in nine areas of Mexico; Durango, Guanajuato, Guerrero, San Luis Potosi, Tamaulipas, Zacatecas, Michoacán, Puebla and Oaxaca, the latter of which produces around 85 percent of all mezcal made.
Mezcal is made traditionally by harvesting the agave plant when it is close to reproduction, the plant is roasted underground in pits lined with charcoal and wood. The juice is fermented then distilled in clay or copper pots.
Much like tequila and whiskey, mezcal picks up the flavour of its container as it distills.
Unlike tequila, mezcal is rarely mixed in a cocktail, rather it is made to be sipped, much like a whiskey. Although we’re sure this will change as the popularity of mezcal spreads.
Similarly to whiskey, mezcal tends to have a deep, earthier, and smokier flavour than tequila.
Generally, due to the lengthy production process, mezcal tends to be more expensive than tequila. As it is hand-crafted, Mezcaleros (mezcal craftsman) have to wait 10 years for an agave plant to reach maturation. It’s certainly worth the wait!
If you want to try something a bit different and enjoy smoky notes in your spirits try some mezcal.
Make like the Mexicans and sip your mezcal served at room temperature. We like this brand of mezcal at the moment.
And remember, tequila is a type of mezcal, not the other way round!
Hopefully this helped answer your question what is mezcal?!