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

Drinkhacker’s 2021 Holiday Gift Guide – Best Alcohol/Spirits for Christmas

By Christopher Null | November 25, 2021 |

Ready for Christmas? Ready for Christmas 2023, maybe? Our long day’s journey into night may have continued unabated this year, but we’re hopeful you’ve at least found some ability to get out of the house, maybe take a trip, and reconnect with friends and family this season. Naturally, you’re still not going to be able…

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The Top 10 Tequilas and Mezcals of 2021

By Christopher Null | November 15, 2021 |

Celebrities turned their attention to whiskey in 2021, which left the tequila world free to explore new products without a bunch of Hollywood types sniffing around. Whew! Innovation is running wild down in Mexico these days, with some really interesting products hitting the scene of late. As we always do around this time of year,…

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Review: Rosaluna Mezcal Joven

By Christopher Null | September 30, 2021 |

Rosaluna is a 100% espadin mezcal from Santiago Matatlan in Oaxaca, developed by co-founders Nate Brown (“the creative mind behind brands such as Yeezy, Beyonce, Alexander Wang, and more”) and Terry Lee (advisor to the likes of Thrive Market and Sundays). The product is distilled by brother-sister duo Frida and Juan Jiménez who have been growing,…

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Review: Montelobos Mezcal Joven – Tobala

By Christopher Null | September 13, 2021 |

Montelobos recently expanded its mezcal lineup with a second expression, this one made in Puebla from tobala agave. It’s also higher in alcohol than the earlier espadin-based expression — and quite a bit different all around. The nose here is pungent, but not in the way you think. It’s actually just mildly smoky an vegetal,…

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Review: Madre Mezcal Espadin y Cuishe

By Christopher Null | September 5, 2021 |

Made with espadin and madrecuishe (aka cuishe) agave, Madre Mezcal was formerly billed as an ensamble, but now carries the identities of both of its primary agave varieties on its label. The Oaxaca-made product shows promise right away. Initially rather sweet on the nose, with notes of overripe fruit, it finds balance in its smoky…

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Review: Pluma Negra Mezcal, Complete Lineup

By Christopher Null | August 2, 2021 |

Pluma Negra is a new mezcal brand out of Oaxaca’s San Juan del Rio, where the Hernandez family has been producing mezcal for 45 years. Maestro Mezcalero Rodolfo Hernandez is “a third generation Mezcalero who uses time honored traditions to create Pluma Negra — animal drawn tahona to crush the maguey, pine barrel fermentation, and double…

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Cutwater Mezcal

Review: Cutwater Mezcal

By Mike Gerrard | June 26, 2021 |

Cutwater is an unusual company. We’ve favorably reviewed some of their whiskey products, and (along with everyone else in the spirits world) they recently brought out some canned cocktails, which were fairly well-received. Despite the fact that they’re based in San Diego, and do distil their own spirits, they’ve also released a tequila and now…

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Review: Lejana Y Sola Mezcal Joven

By Christopher Null | May 24, 2021 |

Lejana Y Sola (“afar and alone”) is a sister brand of PaQui Tequila, which we reviewed when it was first released a whopping 11 years ago. This joven mezcal is an “ensemble” made from espadin and cuishe and is made in Lachila, Oaxaca via traditional methods that include the use of a horse-drawn tahona to…

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Review: Pierde Almas Mezcal Espadin Joven

By Christopher Null | February 27, 2021 |

Oaxaca-based Pierde Almas produces at least 8 different mezcal expressions, including this unaged joven bottling made from 100% espadin agave, naturally fermented in small wooden vats and double distilled in copper pots. No flavorings or additives. Boldly smoky on the nose, this is a very intense mezcal that pours on the campfire character. Notes of…

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Bottle of Mezcal Don Ramon

Review: Mezcal Don Ramon Joven

By Mike Gerrard | January 27, 2021 |

Don Ramon’s range of tequilas have been around for a while, aiming for an upmarket image by recruiting ex-James Bond actor Pierce Brosnan as their brand ambassador. It’s notable, then, that in late 2020 they chose to launch Mezcal Don Ramon. Mezcal is usually seen as a more artisanal spirit than tequila, often made in…

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