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: Craneo Organic Mezcal

By Christopher Null | November 10, 2016 |

David Ravandi, the man behind 123 Tequila, has at long last stepped into the world of mezcal. Craneo is a 100% organic espadin mezcal that is harvested at 5600 feet in Santiago Matatlan, Oaxaca. Traditionally processed, it is bottled at slightly-above average proof, at 42% abv. Classically structured on the nose, the mezcal offers aromas…

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Review: 3 Mezcals from Craft Distillers – Alipus Ensamble, Mezcalero #16, and Mezcalero Special #2

By Christopher Null | October 22, 2016 |

Craft Distillers has doubled down on mezcal, and it imports both the Alipus and Mezcalero lines of mezcal. Alipus is generally available, but the Mezcalero line is a series of limited production releases, numbered in sequence. 1 through 14 are now sold out; you can still get 15 and 16, the latter of which is reviewed…

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Review: Creyente Mezcal Joven

By Christopher Null | July 31, 2016 |

This new joven mezcal is a blend of two 100% Espadin agave mezcals from different regions of Oaxaca (Tlacolula and Yautepec). It’s fitting, because the product is a parternship of two longtime mezcaleros – Pedro Mateo and Mijail Zarate – who have tinkered with classical distillation processes to come up with Creyente (Spanish for “believer”). Per…

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Review: Sangre de Vida Tequila and Mezcal, Complete Lineup

By Christopher Null | May 21, 2016 |

So here’s the story. I hope I have all the facts correct. In 2009, Grace Kim Brandi founded of L.A.-based Elements Spirits, which makes KAH Tequila and packages it in unmistakable skull decanters, hand painted to honor the Mexican Dia de los Muertos. Elements was sued by the people that make Crystal Head Vodka, which…

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Review: Wahaka Mezcal Complete Lineup

By Christopher Null | March 20, 2016 |

Mezcal is always fun, but it gets really fun when you can compare different styles and species of agave that are used to create this unique spirit. Wahaka, based in the Tlacolula Central Valley region of Oaxaca, offers five different Mezcals — four joven (silver) varieties, and one reposado. We tasted them all. Thoughts follow.…

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Review: Mezcal Amaras Cupreata

By Christopher Null | September 7, 2015 |

Mezcal Amaras is new on the scene, but it’s already got a new expression available: Cupreata. What’s cupreata? Amaras explains… The rare cupreata agave, found only on certain mountain slopes in the Rio Balsas basin in Mexico, produces an equally rare mezcal, known for its distinctly vegetal flavor profile. Today, Anchor Distilling Company makes this…

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Review: Mezcal Alipus, 4 Expressions

By Christopher Null | August 31, 2015 |

Del Maguey isn’t the only game in town if you want to explore single-village mezcals. Craft Distillers has put together a line of six different mezcals (including one special bottling of only 600 bottles) showcasing different terroirs in the pueblos of Oaxaca — all of which are a bit south of the capital. Each of…

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Recipes for National Tequila Day, 2015

By Rob Theakston | July 21, 2015 |

As with most holidays held in the summer, this one seems as if it should have its own weekend and not a single date. However, with July 24th falling on a Friday, it should be easy to stretch this one out over three days, no problem. Here are a few recipes sent to us from…

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Review: Craft Distillers Mezcalero Release #11 Bramaderos (Miahuatlan)

By Christopher Null | May 28, 2015 |

Craft Distillers’ Mezcalero is a series of one-time batches of mezcal, similar to the ArteNOM tequila releases. Once they’re all sold, they’re gone for good. But don’t worry — in both cases, they always make more. We first encountered Mezcalero in its second batch, and while I felt that release was a touch lackluster, it…

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Review: Mezcal Amaras

By Christopher Null | February 23, 2015 |

This new brand of mezcal hails from San Juan del Rio in Oaxaca. It’s a blanco made in a decidedly traditional style. To wit: This traditional mezcal is made from Espadín agave plants grown on the hills surrounding San Juan del Rio, which are harvested at their optimum maturity by Jimadores, and roasted for 5 days…

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