Why Is Mezcal So Special
The agave is a succulent that struggles to live and lives to struggle this is one of the main reasons why one can say mezcal tastes so special. Agaves survive in impossibly dry and arid environments, and the production process involves a skilled Mescalero to meticulously craft, blend, and ferment the agave.
Mezcal Vs Tequila: The Difference Between Mezcal And Tequila
The number one difference between mezcal and tequila is simple All Tequilas are a specific sub-variety of Mezcal. Mezcal is the primary name used to describe all types of distilled agave. So rule 1: All Tequila is Mezcal. Only one type of Mezcal is Tequila.
Rule 2. Tequila can only be made from Blue Agave grown in the state of Jalisco, Mexico. So, like Champagne, the real stuff has a designated origin. Mezcal, on the other hand, can be made from any Agave in any state, though some states, like Oaxaca, grow and produce far more than other states.
Rule 3. The production process can differ greatly. This leads to a very different flavor. Well get into the production process details more below, and in the full podcast episode above, of course.
For those who never tasted Mezcal, the primary noticeable difference between Mezcal and Tequila is that Mezcal is intensely smokey in flavor. Tequila has no smokiness at all.
What Exactly Is The Difference Between Mezcal And Tequila
Tequila continues to grow in popularity in the U.S., with sales increasing every year. According to the IWSR, the category grew at a rate of 9.3 percent in 2019, part of a trend that has lasted for at least a decade. And though the volume is much smaller, mezcal continues to gain traction here as well with sales up 40 percent in 2019. What this all boils down to is Americans are thirsty for agave spirits from Mexicothe two combined make up about 9 percent of the total domestic spirits market. But some people may not be familiar with what defines and separates tequila and mezcal, so we spoke to some experts in the industry to help clear things up.
First of all, tequila is a type of mezcal, just like bourbon is a type of whiskey. The main differences are the types of agave authorized to produce the spirit, the appellation of origin, and how the agave is cooked, said Andres Portela, agave ambassador for Sombra Mezcal. Tequila can be made from one type of agave, tequilana weber or blue agave. Also, tequila can only be made in five Mexican states. Mezcal, on the other hand, can be made from many different types of agave, although the most common is espadín, and it can be produced in nine different states.
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Difference Between Mezcal And Tequila
Mezcal is a national spirit of Mexico which means oven-cooked agave. Agaves or magueys are found in different areas of Mexico. Most Mezcal is made in Oaxaca.
Mezcal is an alcoholic beverage. Its part of the culture, people and history of Mexico. Mezcal can best be comprehended by tasting it besides to Tequila. When you compare both of them you will see mezcal as smoky.
Tequila is made in the Tequila region of Mexico. It is a distilled spirit produced from the agave plant. The alcohol must be delivered in assigned zones of Mexico. Today, it is one of the most famous alcohols on the planet, but its used in Mexico and the U.S. Tequila is the main ingredient in margaritas and tequila shots are well known.
The Difference Between Tequila Mezcal And Pulque
Tequila, mezcal and pulque are three traditional Mexican drinks that are all made from the agave succulent, but deliver different taste experiences
Tequila, Mezcal, and Pulque are traditional Mexican drinks made using agave succulent plant varietiesbut each beverage is distinct and offers different taste experiences.
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The Best Mezcal What To Drink Where To Taste Mezcal
Mezcal vs Tequila: Our Host Rafael at Mezcaloteca, Oaxaca
Testing the purity of Mezcal the funnel creates bubbles in the cup
We went right to the source Oaxaca itself. To taste the most interesting and surprising Mezcals. From one with hints of beetroot to classic smokey Mezcals with 50%+ alcohol content.
Our host Rafael, the owner, is a Mezcal expert and tasting aficionado. We interviewed him in the podcast episode at the top of this article.
He gave us a short list of his favourite mezcals types that you should try:
Tobala Tobala mainly grows in high altitude canyons in the shade of oak trees. The Tobala agave takes 12 to 18 years to reach maturity. Expect cinnamon and mango notes with a smooth finish.
Agave Tepeztate This agave produces very complex mezcals, partly due to its very long maturation period . It grows best on steep rocky mountainsides.
Tastings at Mezcaloteca are better by reservation, to ensure a member of staff is available to give you a one on one tasting experience. You can make a reservation through the .
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Clase Azul 15th Anniversary Edition
- Price per bottle: $30,000
- Type of Tequila: Extra-Añejo
Clase Azul is already known for its artisanal crystal decanters and expensive tequilas, but its most prized offering yet is a $30,000 Clase Azul Extra Anejo Anniversary Edition, 15 years after its debut in 1997.
The limited-edition fine tequila remains the most expensive and exclusive selection from the brand since they only released a limited run of only fifteen bottles to celebrate 15 years in business.
The ultra-matured reserve tequila is a blend of two reserves. One was aged in Spanish barrels for 15 years and another aged for 11 years in Productos Finos de Agave Distillery. The result is an indulgent drink inside a real work of art, a bottle made of ceramic with 24-karat gold decorations, among other artistic flourishes.
Where Are Tequila And Mezcal Made
Although there are some overlaps, Mezcal and Tequila are both produced in different regions of Mexico. Tequila is only produced in Michoacán, Guanajuato, Nayarit, Tamaulipas and Jalisco, which is where the actual town of Tequila is located. Whereas Mezcal is produced in Durango, Guanajuato, Guerrero, San Luis Potosi, Tamaulipas, Zacatecas, Michoacán, Puebla and Oaxaca.
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Mezcal Vs Tequila: The History Of Tequila
History of Tequila: The Blue Agave the only agave that can be used to make Tequila.
The Aztecs have a legend that lightning struck an agave plant. The heat and force opened the agave and begun the natural fermentation process. This led to a sort of agave beer, which the native populations of the region then started to make themselves, without lightning. But tequila and mezcal could not be made until distillation was introduced to the region. More on that below.
As tequila is just a specific form of Mezcal, you could say that the real history of modern tequila has evolved out of the tradition of mezcal to the point where in 1973 the Regional Chamber of the Tequila Industry applied for a declaration of protection for this appellation, which was granted in 1974 by the Mexican government. Following this, in 1976, the legal name of Tequila became protected.
The biggest milestone came in 1996 when the Mexican government approved an internationally recognized which protected Tequila internationally and led to its rapid spread around the world.
Mezcal Vs Tequila: When To Use Them
In summary: Mezcal is a distilled spirit made from any variety of agave plant. Cooking the agave in pits in the ground gives it a strong smoky flavor. Tequila is a distilled spirit made only from the blue agave plant. It has an agave-forward flavor and has smoother, richer flavor when aged .
- Mezcal brings a smoky flavor to drinks. A little goes a long way! Often its used in combination with tequila to make smoky spins on classic drinks, like the Mezcal Margarita or Mezcal Paloma.
- Tequila is a popular liquor thats starred in classic cocktails for centuries. Popular cocktails include the , the Paloma and Tequila Sunrise.
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Breaking Down The Difference Between Mezcal And Tequila
From citrusy and bright to dark and brooding, to laden with chocolate mole and laced with mesquite, this spirit category can have an almost unbelievable range of descriptors. And further flavor combinations can be even more startling: roasted meat, rubber and petrol lychee, rosewater and bubble gum.
Such is the magical mystery of mezcal.
Mezcal is Mexicos most traditional agave spirit, and perhaps its most nontraditional in terms of the drinking experience. It can surprise and delight with its extreme range, and it can show terroir like few spirits can.
For years, it was pigeon-holed as smoky, an easy way to differentiate its flavors from Tequila, which is also distilled from agave. But in reality, mezcal is so much more.
As Americans discover the palate-thrilling roller coaster ride that it can be, the spirits star is undoubtedly on the rise. Consumption of mezcal in the U.S. grew by 32.4% in 2018, according to UK based research firm IWSR Drinks Market Analysis, representing the largest gain among all spirits categories. Admittedly, that jump is from a relatively small base of 261,000 nine-liter cases, but its a dizzying trajectory nevertheless, and experts suggest theres even more growth to come.
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Bars, meanwhile, continue adding more and more mezcal bottlings and mezcal-spiked cocktails to their line-ups.
What Is The Difference Between Mezcal And Tequila
If we serve you two shots, would you know to identify the difference between mezcal and tequila? And we dont talk about what you may notice at first glance, because although both drinks come from agave and have a shared history, each one has its characteristics and, in La Luna Mezcal, were going to tell you about them.
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They Have Different Labels
After the distilling process is complete, both tequila and mezcal are aged inside of oak barrels. The different aging categories of the two spirits are defined a bit differently. The three varieties of tequila include blanco , reposado , and añejo . Mezcal is also grouped into three age brackets, including joven , reposado , and añejo .
Mezcal Vs Tequila: Why Do They Taste Different
From an alcohol by volume perspective , mezcal and tequila are bottled at the same strength. Due to differences in agave varietals, their preparation, and distillation, mezcal has the reputation for tasting stronger, particularly when compared to Blanco and Joven tequilas, which are predicated on clean and crisp blue weber agave flavor.
Mezcals rustic production comes from around 30 different agave varieties resulting in an earthier, smoky flavor than the spirits crafted from the blue agave plant. Tequila is most often produced by steaming the agave inside industrial ovens before being distilled two or three times in copper pots.
Mezcal is more old school, using traditional earthen pits that are lined with lava rocks and filled with wood and charcoal, where the agave pinas are cooked before being extracted, then fermented and distilled in oak barrels, clay pots, or small copper pot stills.
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What Is Mezcal And How Is It Different From Tequila
Tequila is considered refined while Mezcal is considered its distant country cousin. Mezcal is made specifically in the state of Oaxaca. It can be made from any variety of the agave plant. The process to make Mezcal is not strictly regulated causing the taste of Mezcal different in different areas. Mezcal is smoky and less refined than Tequila.
Where Does Mezcal Come From
Mezcal production is limited to the states of Oaxaca, Durango, Zacatecas, San Luis Potosí, Guerrero, Puebla, Guanajuato, Tamaulipas, and Michoacán.
Different types of mezcal
The Mexican government officially divides mezcal distillers into three different categories, which must appear on the label to indicate the spirit inside is a certified mezcal:
Ancestral mezcal is produced in the same way it has been for centuries, sans modern machinery . Artisanal can be slightly more mechanized, while industrial production throws the traditional handicraft out the window entirely.
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How Are Tequila And Mezcal Made
Both Tequila and Mezcal are made from the agave plant. The agave plant is a labour of love to harvest and can take 6 10 years to fully mature. With its spiky appearance, the agave is often mistaken for a cactus but it is in fact a succulent, also known as the century plant. Although Tequila and Mezcal are both made from agave, that is where the similarities end.
Tequila is made using the blue agave plant. Even to this day the agave plant is farmed manually and it takes generations of know how to do this correctly. When the blue agave plant is ripe, the harvester, or Jimador removes the agave leaves with a sharp curved tool called a Coa. The leaves are removed and the heart or pina of the agave is what is used to make Tequila.
The agave is then steamed inside an industrial oven, which activates a chemical process within the piña that converts complex carbohydrates into simple fermentable sugars. The steaming process also helps soften the agave, making it easier to extract the sugar. Once cooked the agave pinas go through a milling process whereby they are crushed in order to release the liquid inside. This liquid is then fermented and turned into alcohol before being distilled 2 3 times to create Tequila.
How Do You Drink Mezcal
As mezcal legend Ron Cooper said Sip, dont shoot. Typically mezcal is sipped neat at room temperature with no water, ice, or anything else added. That said, there are plenty of whisky connoisseurs who prefer to add a drop of water to their mezcal, which they also presumably do with their whisky. Is this wrong? Of course not. Though Ive never seen anyone in Oaxaca add water to their glass of mezcal, Im confident the producers would be elated to hear that you like their mezcal, regardless of whether it has a drop of water in it or not.
The other main consideration is what glass or cup should be used to sip mezcal. Mezcal Copitas are small clay or ceramic cups that are commonly used. Vaso Veladora Mezcal Glasses are small shot-like glasses that are commonly used in Oaxaca. There are also some other companies out there producing some cool re-envisioned drinking vessels. If you visit a palenque in Oaxaca, you could be drinking mezcal out of everything from a plastic bottle to a short bamboo shoot.
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Main Differences Between Mezcal And Tequila
Flavor Differences Of Mezcal Vs Tequila
The flavor differences in mezcal vs. tequila come down to the agave type and the location and climate of where it came, the cooking and distillation process used, and whether the spirit was aged. Overall, tequila is sweeter, smoother, fruitier, and more complex and toasty from its oak aging. Mezcal gives more savory, smoky, and earthy flavors with vegetal, tropical, or floral notes.
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Anticipating An Agave Shortage
Mezcal is quickly becoming a staple at U.S. bars, but some experts worry that the industry is growing too fast for nature to keep up. Potential agave shortages are increasingly a concern, which could also impact the Tequila industry.
All alcohol starts life as sugar, says Lou Bank, co-founder and executive director of SACRED, a Chicago-based not-for-profit corporation that uses education, advocacy and fundraising to increase awareness about mezcal and those who make it. Compared to other ingredients used to make alcohol, like grapes, wheat or even sugarcane, agave takes the longest to grow. The plant takes an additional four years at minimum to mature, with some varieties requiring decades.
During that time, its building up all those chemical deposits that have flavors and aromas that make the end spirit considerably more complex, says Bank.
No wonder a common expression among distillers is that mezcal tastes like time.
Danny Mena, a partner at Mezcales de Leyenda, an advocacy organization for mezcal producers as well as a producer in its own right, likens the rise of mezcal to that of single-malt Scotch. Prior to the 1960s, few Americans drank single malts. That changed in 1963, when Glenfiddich began to market its single-malt Scotch outside of Scotland. But demand soon outstripped supply, since good whisky takes time to age.