Mezcal is often eclipsed by Tequila. They are both made in Mexico and both made from the same plant. However, Mezcal is an entirely different spirit. Tequila is produced from a different agave (the Blue Agave), in different regions, and using different methods. Now, that we’ve got that out of the way, onto the good stuff…
Quick Sips: Mezcal offers an agave taste coupled with citrus and smokiness. (The degree of the smokiness varies greatly, but it’s always there.) Recently, it has become quite trendy to compare Mezcal to Scotch.
Production: Mezcal production is governed by some very specific regulations.
- Mezcal must be made in Oaxaca, Durango, Guanajuato, Guerrero, San Luis Potosi, Tamaulipas, Zacatecas, Michoacan, and Puebla. (Although, 85% is made in Oaxaca.)
- Mezcal can be made from some 30 plus varieties of agave, but is most often made from Oaxaca’s most common variety: Agave Espadin.
- Like Tequilas, Mezcal production begins with jimadors cutting the agave down to pinas with their coach knives. However, most mescals take a far more artisanal turn at this point. The Pinas are generally buried in a large, underground pit for roasting. Then, they are dug up and ground down by a large donkey/mule drawn stone wheel. The resulting juice is then hooked up with some yeast, fermented, and distilled a couple times. It is from this process that Mezcal derives its signature smokey taste.