Mezcal

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: Los Vecinos del Campo Mezcal Ensamble No 1 and Tobala

By Christopher Null | February 18, 2020 |

Los Vecinos Mezcal hit the scene last year with a killer expression made from espadin agave, produced by its independent co-op (of sorts) comprised of 10 mezcaleros. Now it’s back with two new mezcals, a blend called Ensamble and an expression made of 100% tobala mezcal. Let’s give them both a try. Los Vecinos del…

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The Top 10 Tequilas and Mezcals of 2019

By Christopher Null | November 1, 2019 |

Tequila continues to grow in popularity and market share, thanks to a glut of high-quality, 100% agave spirit on the market. You can also thank a surging interest in mezcal, as artisanal offerings continue to push the smoky spirit into new places, with focuses on terroir and single varietals of agave. Today we take a…

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Review: Mezcal Union Uno and El Viejo

By Christopher Null | October 30, 2019 |

The latest mezcal to hit the market comes to us not from a globetrotting celebrity but from a group of Mexican farmers going it alone: Mezcal Unión is an artisanal mezcal brand & co-op built with the intention to unite indigenous farmers and family producers from different communities of Oaxaca. The goal of Mezcal Union…

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Review: Ilegal Mezcal Joven (2019)

By Christopher Null | October 25, 2019 |

It’s been nearly ten years since our introduction to and first review of Ilegal Mezcal, a small-batch, Oaxaca-based brand that produces a range of mezcals, both unaged and aged in oak. We started off with a look at batch #1 in 2010. Come 2019, we find batch #80 of the joven mezcal on our desks,…

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Review: Paquera Mezcal Espadin

By Christopher Null | August 18, 2019 |

Paquera is a new brand of mezcal that spans three different varieties, three blends that are variously composed of 100% Espadin agave, 80% Espadin/20% Barril, and 100% Barril agave. Each is blended to offer a different level of smoke as well as a unique sense of the terroir of the agave used Today we look…

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Review: Santo Cuviso Bacanora Blanco

By Christopher Null | July 29, 2019 |

Santo Cuviso is bacanora, which is not tequila, but rather a close cousin, much like mezcal. Made from a different species of wild agave — Agave Angustifolia (aka espadin, commin in mezcal) — in the Mexican state of Sonora, not Jalisco, Bacanora was reportedly so special it was considered a holy sacrament by the Jesuit…

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Review: Los Vecinos del Campo Mezcal Espadin

By Christopher Null | June 30, 2019 |

Sazerac has recently partnered with Oaxaca-based Casa San Matias and a group of local mezcaleros to introduce a new family of mezcals called Los Vecinos del Campo. Some detail: These hand-crafted spirits are produced by 10 families in the Valles Centrales of Oaxaca who have been utilizing traditional methods to create rich agave spirits for…

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Book Review: The Mezcal Experience

By Christopher Null | January 17, 2019 |

With mezcal on the rise as a category, it makes sense for enthusiasts to build their understanding of what mezcal is and why it’s such a unique product in the world of spritis. Tom Bullock’s treatise, The Mezcal Experience: A Field Guide to the World’s Best Mezcals and Agave Spirits, offers a solid foundation to the…

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Review: Baltimore Spirits Fumus Pumila

By Drew Beard | November 25, 2018 |

Maryland’s Baltimore Whiskey Company is producing far more than just whiskey. In fact, their portfolio has become so varied that they changed their name recently to Baltimore Spirits Company. We haven’t even reviewed one of their whiskeys. They only offer one. Why were they called Baltimore Whiskey Company to begin with? Anyway. Our first taste…

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Review: Gran Patron Smoky

By Christopher Null | October 12, 2018 |

If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em? The popularity of mezcal is seemingly beginning to have an impact on the tequila old guard, and Patron has now responded in the most unexpected way imaginable: Not by launching a new brand or acquiring a mezcal producer, but by making a new version of Patron that closely…

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