You are currently viewing the International Edition. You can also switch to the Hong Kong Edition.
Wednesday 1 July 2015
Max Stein
The views expressed in db Reader do not represent the views of the drinks business.

Mezcal: the other Mexican spirit

25th April, 2013 by Max Stein

It’s important that mezcal gets its deserving place on the shelf as a delicious and enjoyable spirit.

Many of us are more than familiar with Mexico’s rowdy, national agave spirit: tequila. This beverage has had a long and illustrious history in Mexico and really has gained significant popularity in the United States in its 100% agave form as a sophisticated and refined liquor meant for casual sipping and savouring.

However, since we all know tequila so very well, Mexico’s other, proud national drink tends to get lost in the shuffle and overshadowed by its famous sister beverage. Mezcal, which is enjoying a rise in popularity of its own in the United States, is immensely distinct and refined in its own right, with just as much history and authenticity as tequila.

These two beverages, even though both are made from the Agave plant, have a great many differences that set them firmly apart from each other and give each their own special flavour, allure, and personality. First, it wouldn’t be inappropriate to say very generally that all tequila is essentially mezcal, but certainly not all mezcal is tequila. Mezcal, in a way, is almost a blanket term for any beverage distilled from the maguey, or agave, plant.

An Agave Plant

An Agave Plant

However, mezcal does differ in a great many ways. First off, the vast majority of mezcal is made in the Mexican state of Oaxaca, but production is not limited to this area and spills into other regions as well. Tequila, in strict accordance with Mexican law, is only made in the state of Jalisco, but occasionally is made in other surrounding areas.

Tequila also can only be made from agave tequilana Weber, or blue Weber agave. The pinas are extracted from the mature agave plant (which takes seven years to mature) and are then steamed or baked in an above-ground oven before being crushed to extract the precious juice used for distillation. Tequilas are also distilled twice, and even three times in certain cases.

Mezcal, on the other hand, can be made from a wide array of different varieties of the agave plant, including tobala and other maguey plants.

Cutting the agave

Cutting the agave

The main point is that mezcal is not as confined to regulations as tequila and therefore is not as straightjacketed by specifics as its famous sister beverage. Once the pinas are extracted (don’t forget to wear gloves because pruning the agave plant of its spear-like, razor sharp spikes is a bit of a daunting task), they are not baked or steamed, but instead roasted.

The hearts of the plant tumble into a rock-lined pit where they are roasted over glowing charcoal and covered with palm and dirt. This special process of roasting the pinas gives mezcal that extremely smokey, harsh, and almost signature barbecued taste that some may find slightly intense on the first go-around. The roasted agave hearts are then crushed to extract the juice, and then distilled only once.

Agave pineapples ready for roasting

Agave pineapples ready for roasting

As mezcal’s worm finally turns and it erects its own pedestal next to tequila as a worthy and tasty delicacy with just as much heart and soul as its close brother, this beverage is finally coming into its own as a refined, premium spirit worthy of thoughtful enjoyment.

Once again, it is generally a lack of information that dissuades people from trying new things and branching out, and the need to be well-informed is a hallmark of the Millennial generation. As we move closer towards the exposure of many more excellent beverages that have remained unnoticed or underappreciated, it’s important that mezcal gets its deserving place on the shelf as a delicious and enjoyable spirit.

Written by Max Stein with RhoMania, “Helping people enjoy life more, one beverage at a time.”

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/RhoMania/109291572447300?ref=hl

Twitter: https://twitter.com/rhomania

Website Blog: http://www.rhomania.com/blog-00/

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

If that's interesting, how about these?

Deadline looms for IWSC digital post

The International Wine & Spirit Competition has made a final call for more...

UK market in growth as price increases slow

The latest figures from the Wine and Spirit Trade Association show that more...

Flavoured styles lead drinks NPD

A new report from Nielsen shows that flavoured variants are dominating more...

London Sales Manager / Key Account Manager

London, United Kingdom

Competitive - depending on skills and experience

UK customs seize 550,000 litres of alcohol

More than 550,000 litres of illegal beer, wine and spirits have been seized by more...

Vinexpo: five days 'too much' says organiser

Vinexpo doesn’t need to run for the full five days because no visitor stays more...

The London Wine Fair in pictures

From red trews and foie gras macaroons to 2CVs, wine on tap and temporary more...

PR Senior Account Manager/Director

London, United Kingdom

Depending on experience

Range of Victorian gins launched in UK

A range of gins celebrating the Victorian gin-making era has been launched in more...

Top 10 modern wine drinker stereotypes

From Rioja lovers to Champagne quaffers, the drinks business has more...

US Senate passes bill to boost spirits exports

The US senate has been applauded by members of the spirits trade for passing a more...

Wine Buyer

London, United Kingdom

Based on experience

Top 10 wine brands 2015

In a year that saw major shifts in the global wine market, the drinks business more...

Top 10 worst estates for en primeur returns

Using Liv-ex's data, db rounds up the worst 10 châteaux for en primeur more...

Tesco to announce more sales woes

Tesco's travails look set to continue, as City analysts say it is preparing to more...

Digital and Communications Executive

£22,000-£26,000 dependent on experience

Britain’s cocktail habits expose north south divide

A survey has revealed Brits' cocktail preferences depend on there they live, more...

New £25m Chivas distillery opened

Nicola Sturgeon hailed the "exceptional quality" of Scotch whisky as she opened more...

How to become a 'wine expert' in four hours

A doctor of psychology has devised 10 simple steps which he claims can set you more...

Head of On-Trade Sales

London, United Kingdom

Ten dead at beer company after attack

An attack at a beer distributor in the Mexican state of Nuevo León has left 10 more...

Diageo appoints North America president

Deirdre Mahlan, Diageo's chief financial officer, has been announced as the more...

Top 10 ways to reuse a wine bottle

If you are anything like the db team, it won't take long to amass a collection more...

Top 10 architectural wonders of the wine world

You don't have to look far to find stunning examples of architectural prowess more...

Tequila leads luxury spirits boost

Luxury brands of Tequila backed by celebrities such as P Diddy and George more...