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: 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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Review: La Luna Mezcal Cupreata

By Christopher Null | July 30, 2018 |

La Luna is a new mezcal brand, hailing from Puente International Spirits, based in Etucuaro, Michoacán. Mezcal has been made here since 1910 by the Perez Escot family, where cupreata agave is grown and smoked over white oak to make this spirit. La Luna is reportedly made with a significant attention paid to the farmers…

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Review: 4 Mezcals from Craft Distillers – Mezcalero #18 and #19, Mezcalero Special #3, and Los Nahaules Metodo Antiguo

By Christopher Null | June 2, 2018 |

A full quartet of special mezcals from our friends at Craft Distillers, each with its own special provenance. We’ll discuss the particulars of each one in turn. Mezcalero Release #18 – “Don Valente’s masterful blend of Espadin with three wild/semi-wild agaves — Bicuishe, Madrecuishe, and Mexicano. This beauty spent 4 years in tank.” Savory, peppery, almost…

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Review: Los Amantes Mezcal Reposado

By Drew Beard | April 2, 2018 |

We reviewed Los Amantes Mezcal Joven way back in 2013 when mezcal wasn’t nearly as popular as it has become today. We were impressed then, so we were excited to sample the reposado offering. Like the joven, this Oaxacan mezcal is made by hand with the most traditional of methods. It’s crafted from 100% Espadin…

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Review: Kimo Sabe Mezcal – Joven and Reposado

By Christopher Null | August 20, 2017 |

Kimo Sabe got started as a brand in 2014, and this affordable mezcal line is finally hitting the U.S. in stride. The company produces three mezcals, two of which are barrel aged in line with standard tequila styles, at present. We sampled the younger two in the lineup, a joven (aka albedo) and reposado (aka…

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Review: Santo Mezquila

By Christopher Null | July 15, 2017 |

Why would someone want to blend mezcal and tequila into the same spirit? I’m not entirely sure what the motivation was, but Sammy Hagar (Van Halen) and Adam Levine (Maroon 5) decided this might be the next big thing, and Santo — aka Santo Puro — has now arrived. The tequila used is 100% blue agave, and…

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Life in a Post-Bourbon World: Predicting the Next Big Thing in Booze

By Neal Christyson | May 14, 2017 |

It’s no secret that bourbon has been the It Spirit for a good few years now. Perhaps the most remarkable thing about it is how pretty much no one saw it coming. One needs to only look at the vast amount of supply shortages today to see just how unprepared most of the market was.…

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Review: Tres Papalote Mezcal

By Christopher Null | May 5, 2017 |

Tres Papalote is a new joven (silver) mezcal, crafted from wild Cupreata agave harvested in Guerrero, Mexico, and chatted up by celebrity spokesman Cheech Marin. (Marin even chose the image for the label, we’re told.) Two other expressions of Tres Papalote, “Normal” and “Botanical,” are also available but are not reviewed here. This is a…

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Review: Siembra Valles Ancestral Tequila Blanco

By Christopher Null | March 23, 2017 |

Artisan tequila gets a leg up from Siembra Spirits, which takes a painstakingly traditional approach, blending tequila and mezcal production processes, to the creation of this new 100% blue agave tequila. Reportedly bringing together mezcaleros and tequileros for the first time in a century, creator David Suro hopes he is on to something new. Mind you, this…

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A Field Guide to the Agave Used For Mezcal

By John Barecki | March 22, 2017 |

Mezcal is the precursor spirit to modern day tequila; it has been produced since the mid 16th century, and many distillers still use ancient techniques for much of it’s production. Unlike tequila, which can only be made from the Weber blue species of agave, mezcal is produced with multiple species that are either cultivated or…

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