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: Paquera Mezcal Barril

By Christopher Null | February 3, 2023 |

We previously covered one of Paquera‘s three mezcal expressions in 2019. Now we’re back with another look at its 100% Barril agave-based mezcal. A rather weedy, vegetal mezcal, Paquera’s 100% Barril expression features heavy notes of cooked greenery, turned earth, and underbrush — both on the nose and the palate. There’s a bold sweetness on…

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Review: Convite Mezcal Espadin-Madrecuishe

By Christopher Null | January 31, 2023 |

We’ve covered two of Convite‘s mezcals previously — I now count nine on the market — and today we’re back with a third expression, made from a blend of espadin and madrecuishe agave. There’s a tiny hint of color on this spirit, but it otherwise hits quite a few familiar mezcal notes. Intently beefy up…

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Review: Ilegal Mezcal – Complete Lineup (2022)

By Christopher Null | January 10, 2023 |

We’re back with our second full round (not including a brief peek at the joven in 2019) with Ilegal, which is a rarity in mezcal, producing three tequila-like expressions instead of merely a blanco — here called a joven — offering. No need to stand on ceremony; let’s dive in. Production details follow with each…

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Drinkhacker’s 2022 Holiday Gift Guide – Best Alcohol/Spirits for Christmas

By Christopher Null | November 24, 2022 |

When they said Covid was over, we didn’t think we’d be summarily dropped into a new financial crisis to replace the one we just got out of. The good news is that the holidays have arrived just in time to provide a welcome (if brief) break from yet another year of chaos. At Drinkhacker, we…

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The Top 10 Tequilas and Mezcals of 2022

By Christopher Null | November 17, 2022 |

2022 has been another big year for tequila, with extra-old expressions coming from every corner – and spending time in all manner of barrels – as well as cristalino bottlings becoming suddenly, incredibly popular. Mezcal continues its rise in popularity, with celebrity mezcal now becoming a thing. We drank a lot of tequila and mezcal…

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Review: Contraluz Mezcal Cristalino

By Christopher Null | November 16, 2022 |

Aged mezcal is hard enough to find. Now Contraluz has dropped a first for us: cristalino mezcal (in this case a reposado that’s been filtered to clear). The innocuous looking spirit — which is not quite clear but rather a very pale yellow — offers plenty of surprises in the glass. The nose sees plenty…

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Review: Catedral de Mi Padre Mezcal Espadín

By Robert Lublin | November 7, 2022 |

Catedral is a California-based brand started by father-daughter duo Jeff and Sydney Block. For each of the six varieties of mezcal they offer, they partner with a different Master Mezcalero. The Espadín we are trying today was made by Jorge Octavio Cardaz Cualtamirano in the mountains outside Oaxaca City, Mexico. Let’s give it a try.…

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Montelobos Ensamble and Pechuga

Review: Montelobos Mezcal Joven – Ensamble and Pechuga

By David Tao | October 25, 2022 |

Last time we checked in with Montelobos, the company’s offerings centered around two hallmark expressions, namely their tobala and espadin. In the past year, the Campari-owned brand has expanded with two more (and quite different) expressions: an ensamble and pechuga. The ensamble blend originates in Puebla and is primarily made using papalote agave and “complemented…

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Review: Dos Hombres Espadin Mezcal

By Christopher Null | July 30, 2022 |

Celebrity spirits don’t get much cooler than last year’s launch of Dos Hombres, which was a collaboration between Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul, stars of one of the coolest TV shows ever, Breaking Bad. Adding to the street cred, it wasn’t a boring tequila or a whiskey but a mezcal, which is arguably the coolest spirits category…

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Review: Bosscal Mezcal Joven and Conejo

By Christopher Null | June 27, 2022 |

Bosscal is a new mezcal made in the Mexican state of Durango. Three varieties are on available; we received two of them. Details on each product can be found below in their particular writeups. Thoughts follow. NOM D248G. Bosscal Mezcal Joven – Unaged distillate of an unstated agave variety (or varieties). Agave is ground by…

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