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

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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Review: Del Maguey Iberico Mezcal

By Christopher Null | September 9, 2014 |

Del Maguey’s Pechuga Mezcal is legendary in the mezcal world, and justifiably so. For those not in the know, in Spanish, a pechuga is a poultry breast, commonly a chicken breast. Why would you call your mezcal Pechuga? Because it has a chicken breast in it. How’s that? Del Maguey mezcel is distilled three times, and…

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Review: Mezcal El Silencio

By Christopher Null | January 22, 2014 |

El Silencio is a new brand of premium mezcal, produced in small batches in Oaxaca from, per the distillery notes, a “blend of 100% wild agave using 10- to 12-year-old plants.” It’s then double distilled and bottled, sans aging. The name is indeed a reference to David Lynch’s Mulholland Drive. The nose is bright and big:…

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los amantes mezcal

Review: Los Amantes Mezcal Joven

By Christopher Null | September 21, 2013 |

Los Amantes, “the lovers,” is a Oaxacan mezcal made via traditional methods, using an underground pit to smoke 100% Tobala and Espadin agave pinas for three days, then triple distilling the juice pressed from them. This Joven mezcal has a faint color. Although joven mezcals can be lightly aged for up to 2 months in…

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Review: Don Amado Mezcal Rustico

By Christopher Null | September 15, 2013 |

Don Amado makes a line of regular, 80-proof mezcals (blanco, reposado, and anejo — none of which we tasted but which are pictured nonetheless), but this is Rustico, a higher-proof mezcal bottled at a big 94 proof. (The same distillery also makes Mina Real, which we recently reviewed.) These are Oaxaca mezcals, double-distilled in ceramic…

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Review: Mina Real Mezcal Silver

By Christopher Null | September 14, 2013 |

Oaxaca-based Mina Real is 100% agave mezcal that is made with a hybrid modern and historical technique. Per the company: it is “made from agave that has been steam-roasted in low pressure brick kilns in order to highlight the plants’ bright highland flavor and floral bouquet without the layers of smoke traditionally found with wood-roasted…

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Review: Sombra Mezcal

By Christopher Null | August 19, 2013 |

Sombra is Oaxaca-area mezcal (from the village of San Juan Del Rio, specifically), made from organic espadin agave grown at 8000 feet. An unaged mezcal, Sombra offers immediate and heavy smoke on the nose, more barbecue than forest fire. There’s a strong undercurrent of sweetness as well — almost a tangy apple, or perhaps applewood…

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Review: Wild Shot Mezcal Silver

By Christopher Null | May 5, 2013 |

A beverage with a name like Wild Shot doesn’t exactly wear subtlety on its sleeve, and this unaged mezcal — complete with, or rather extremely proud of, the worm at the bottom of the bottle — doesn’t really hold back. Country musician Toby Keith is the man behind this celebrezcal, and you can click the…

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