Both Tequila and Mezcal are distilled from agave plants, but tequila only uses blue agave. Mezcal involves underground roasting, something that gives it a distinctive, smoky flavor. Like craft spirits? Mezcal is traditionally made by small-scale producers and there are over 9,000 producers and more than 150 brands.
Now you’re probably wondering why you haven’t heard of it, if it’s so delicious and wonderful… The unique smoky flavor (one of the characteristics that we love about it) isn’t for everybody. And the fact that it is so hyper local, with tons of small brands, and not one brand monopolizing the market, makes it tough to advertise and get the word out.
About 200 bottles of tequila are produced in Mexico for every bottle of Mezcal, but Mezcal is slowly gaining popularity. We’re not sure it’s ever going to beat out tequila, but we recommend it to people who like to try new things.
Mezcal’s audience is small, but you should still be able to find it in at least one of your local bars. Smart, innovative establishments have invested in having a few good bottles on hand for patrons who know their niche spirits. There are even some bars in major cities popping up that are dedicated specifically to Mezcal. If you’re a Mezcal virgin, it’s better to order a shot so that you get an idea of the flavor. It can be a little tricky to concoct a mixed drink that works with the distinctive smoky taste.
What do you think of Mezcal, and how do you drink it?