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: 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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Review: Dry Land Whiskeys and Cactus Spirit

By Christopher Null | January 16, 2021 |

Longmont, Colorado is home to Dry Land Distillers, a true grain-to-glass craft operation “influenced and inspired by Colorado’s landscapes.” “With a focus on single grain 100% wheat whiskeys, prickly pear cactus spirits, native Colorado gin and pure cane sugar rum, Dry Land spirits represent the authentic flavors of the American West,” per the company. Today…

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Review: Peloton de la Muerte Mezcal – Criollo and Pechuga

By Christopher Null | January 1, 2021 |

Peloton de la Muerte (literally “death squad”) is a mezcal brand that’s offered a single Espadin-based expression for about three years. We haven’t reviewed it, but we recently received samples of Peloton’s two new line extensions, Criollo and a vegan Pechuga. Both mezcals are produced with wild agave grown in the Mexican state of Guerrero.…

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A bottle of Desert Door Back Burn Sotol from Teaxas

Review: Desert Door Back Burn Texas Sotol

By Mike Gerrard | December 30, 2020 |

Sotol is typically thought of as a Mexican spirit, if it’s thought of at all, but Desert Door makes the only U.S. sotol on the market, distilled from Desert Spoon plants that grow in its native Texas. Launching with a straight blanco version, which was followed by an oak-aged expression, the company has now embarked…

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Drinkhacker’s 2020 Holiday Gift Guide – Best Alcohol/Spirits for Christmas

By Christopher Null | November 26, 2020 |

At this point it feels safe to say that the 2020 holiday season will be unlike any other in our lifetimes. And while in-person gatherings may not be possible, it doesn’t mean that you’re going to stop exchanging gifts. In fact, in the world of booze, it’s easier than ever to ship a bottle of…

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The Top 10 Tequilas and Mezcals of 2020

By Christopher Null | November 12, 2020 |

With celebrities ranging from Dwayne Johnson to Michael Jordan to Bryan Cranston all getting in on the tequila and mezcal game, you’d think a mass migration from Hollywood to Mexico was underway. Nope, turns out that’s just where the money is. After George Clooney and pals got $1 billion for their sale of Casamigos a…

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