Mezcal is a category of spirits on the rise, with more distillers in Mexico turning to mezcal, and more mezcal being exported than ever before – though it is still dwarfed by sales of tequila. Mezcal is a spirit that can be distilled from any agave plant. This is why all tequila is also technically a type of mezcal, as it is made from the blue agave. However, mezcal today commonly means a spirit made from any agave except for the blue agave, which is reserved for tequila. In practice, only about 50 or 60 of the 300 species of agave in existence are suitable for spirits, but it’s the method preparation – which involves roasting the agave pinas over an open fire – that makes mezcal much smokier than tequila, both on both nose and palate. It’s not unlike a whisky from Islay in Scotland. Most mezcal comes from the state of Oaxaca, though it can also be made in several other smaller regions of Mexico. Joven (young) mezcal is the most common; it is unaged and bottled immediately after the legally required two distillations. Reposado is aged for at least two months in holm oak or white oak barrels, while añejo or añejado is aged for at least twelve months in holm or white oak barrels. Mezcal can be bottled at anything from 72 to 110 proof. The best will be labelled as 100% agave; those that contain up to 20% non-agave spirits are known as a mixto.

Top Mezcal Posts:

A Field Guide to the Agave Used For Mezcal
Del Maguey Iberico Mezcal
Ilegal Mezcal

Review: Desert Door Lady of Spain Texas Sotol

By Christopher Null | July 22, 2023 |

  Sotol may sound like a one-off experience, but Texas-based Desert Door sure does a lot with it, cranking out special editions of this unique, American twist on tequila. Lady of Spain is Desert Door’s second release in its Explorer Series for 2023, and is actually a relaunch of a previous expression which was aged…

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Review: Del Maguey Vida Puebla Mezcal

By Christopher Null | July 12, 2023 |

God bless Ron Cooper and Del Maguey for the instruction of “Sip it. Don’t shoot it.” printed directly on the bottle of his mezcals, the latest of which is a single village version of the entry-level Vida called Vida Puebla. Made in — you guessed it — Puebla, Mexico, Vida Puebla joins Vida Clasico and…

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Review: Desolas Mezcal

By Robert Lublin | February 23, 2023 |

Desolas Mezcal is made from 100% Salmiana agave, sometimes called the “green giant” for its larger size, and which sometimes needs as much as 25 years to reach its prime. In addition to using a particular agave, Desolas is also distinctive among mezcals for its minimal smokiness, which results from the use of above ground…

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Review: Paquera Mezcal Barril

By Christopher Null | February 3, 2023 |

We previously covered one of Paquera‘s three mezcal expressions in 2019. Now we’re back with another look at its 100% Barril agave-based mezcal. A rather weedy, vegetal mezcal, Paquera’s 100% Barril expression features heavy notes of cooked greenery, turned earth, and underbrush — both on the nose and the palate. There’s a bold sweetness on…

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Review: Convite Mezcal Espadin-Madrecuishe

By Christopher Null | January 31, 2023 |

We’ve covered two of Convite‘s mezcals previously — I now count nine on the market — and today we’re back with a third expression, made from a blend of espadin and madrecuishe agave. There’s a tiny hint of color on this spirit, but it otherwise hits quite a few familiar mezcal notes. Intently beefy up…

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Review: Ilegal Mezcal – Complete Lineup (2022)

By Christopher Null | January 10, 2023 |

We’re back with our second full round (not including a brief peek at the joven in 2019) with Ilegal, which is a rarity in mezcal, producing three tequila-like expressions instead of merely a blanco — here called a joven — offering. No need to stand on ceremony; let’s dive in. Production details follow with each…

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Drinkhacker’s 2022 Holiday Gift Guide – Best Alcohol/Spirits for Christmas

By Christopher Null | November 24, 2022 |

When they said Covid was over, we didn’t think we’d be summarily dropped into a new financial crisis to replace the one we just got out of. The good news is that the holidays have arrived just in time to provide a welcome (if brief) break from yet another year of chaos. At Drinkhacker, we…

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The Top 10 Tequilas and Mezcals of 2022

By Christopher Null | November 17, 2022 |

2022 has been another big year for tequila, with extra-old expressions coming from every corner – and spending time in all manner of barrels – as well as cristalino bottlings becoming suddenly, incredibly popular. Mezcal continues its rise in popularity, with celebrity mezcal now becoming a thing. We drank a lot of tequila and mezcal…

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Review: Contraluz Mezcal Cristalino

By Christopher Null | November 16, 2022 |

Aged mezcal is hard enough to find. Now Contraluz has dropped a first for us: cristalino mezcal (in this case a reposado that’s been filtered to clear). The innocuous looking spirit — which is not quite clear but rather a very pale yellow — offers plenty of surprises in the glass. The nose sees plenty…

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Review: Catedral de Mi Padre Mezcal Espadín

By Robert Lublin | November 7, 2022 |

Catedral is a California-based brand started by father-daughter duo Jeff and Sydney Block. For each of the six varieties of mezcal they offer, they partner with a different Master Mezcalero. The Espadín we are trying today was made by Jorge Octavio Cardaz Cualtamirano in the mountains outside Oaxaca City, Mexico. Let’s give it a try.…

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