Mezcal Is the New (Old) Tequila
Mezcal Is the New (Old) Tequila! While tequila is by far the most ubiquitous agave spirit, mezcal actually predates tequila! I’ve written about mezcal before and will continue to evangelize this spirit because I love its diversity, complexity, and versatility. There is such history and authenticity behind each producer-- I love teaching about the small villages--or “palenques”--that produce mezcal. And like wine, each mezcal is an expression of the land in which it is grown. Following are some important distinctions between mezcal and tequila:
They’re produced in different regions: Like Champagne can only come from Champagne, France, tequila and mezcal have regional distinctions. Oaxaca produces more than 90 percent of the world's mezcal and 9 Mexican states in total are allowed to produce the spirit. Other important regions are Durango and Tamaulipas. Jalisco is the center of tequila production and the vast majority of the spirit is produced there.
They’re made from different agaves: There are about 200 types of agaves in total, and tequila can only be made from Blue Agave. Mezcal, however, can be made from 40 of them, with Espadin being the most common. And like wine, mezcal can also be blended and made into “ensambles.”
They’re distilled differently: The agave for tequila is steamed in ovens that are above ground, and largely industrial. Mezcal producers, however, employ artisanal techniques and cook the agaves in earthen ovens with wood and charcoal, instilling smoky characteristics in the beverage.
All these factors make mezcal multi-dimensional, versatile, and delicious. And with a huge focus on sustainability so you can feel good about your enjoying mezcal, Mexico’s national spirit. Some mezcal producers I’m loving right now are:
Want to learn more about mezcal? Read the article I wrote for @mezcalinstitute Mezcal Institute!