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: The ImpEx Collection Edition Three – 4 Mezcal Expressions (2023 Releases)

By Christopher Null | February 23, 2024 |

Previously we brought you a look at the six indie-bottled whiskies in edition three of the ImpEx Collection — now we’re carrying on with the bottler’s first foray into mezcal. The line comprises four different expressions from two distillers, using four different subspecies of agave. Let’s get into it. The ImpEx Collection Mezcal Felipe Cortes,…

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Review: Creador Mezcal, 2023 Releases

By Drew Beard | February 21, 2024 |

In the widening world of mezcal, artisanal expressions made by hand with traditional methods are increasingly the best places to find unique flavors and superior quality. And it doesn’t get more handmade than Creador which dropped their second set of bottlings late last fall. The deets: Each of the six new expressions is milled by…

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Review: Zomoz Mezcal

By Drew Beard | January 20, 2024 |

New mezcal brands are sprouting up left and right. Add newcomer Zomoz to that ever-growing list. The brand launched last June as a joint venture among several Mexican and Mexican-American entrepreneurs: Diego De La Vega, Marlene Avitia, Eloy Cantu, and Mike Fonseca. The name means “we are” in Spanish and is meant to speak to…

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Mezcal Amaras’ Luis Nino de Rivera Mesta on Trends, Challenges, and the Future of Mezcal

By Drew Beard | January 1, 2024 |

The popularity of agave spirits has exploded in recent years with mezcal showing particularly impressive growth. Unlike most tequila, however, mezcal is more of an artisanal product, often made entirely by hand and with frequently far lower yields. It is not uncommon for a new mezcal producer to hit the market with only a few…

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Review: Mala Mia Mezcal – Ensamble, Cuishe, and Tepeztate

By Christopher Null | December 24, 2023 |

Mala Mia Mexcal launched earlier this year with four expressions: Espadín, Ensamble, Cuishe, and Tepeztate. Traditionally distilled by Saturnino Martínez Méndez in the village of Santiago Matatlán in Oaxaca, the operation uses agave aged anywhere from 6 to 26 years of age, cutting them down whole. (This is the inspiration for the name Mala Mia,…

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Drinkhacker’s 2023 Holiday Gift Guide – Best Alcohol/Spirits for Christmas

By Christopher Null | November 23, 2023 |

I don’t know about you, but I’m ready for some festivities in the form of holiday revelry. Naturally, the holidays mean gift-giving time is nigh, and you’re going to want recommendations for what to wrap up and stash under the tree. As always, this year we want your gift-giving to make a statement, but we…

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Review: Convite Mezcal Una’

By Christopher Null | October 9, 2023 |

Convite makes a range of high-grade mezcals, but with Una’ — yes, with an apostrophe at the end; the term means “woman” in Zapotec — it’s on to something with a twist. It’s produced with espadin agave but colored a light shade of pink (with cochineal tint) in order to give it a thematic alignment…

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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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