So, Wait, What Exactly is the Difference Between Tequila and Mezcal?
First thing’s first, let’s define mezcal. The most important thing to know is that any spirit distilled from the agave plant is considered a mezcal, which means that all tequilas are also actually mezcals. Spanish conquistadors also brought distillation (which they actually learned from native Filipinos in the 16th century) when they arrived in Mexico, which was eventually used to make agave spirits.
Where are they made?
Tequila must be made in the Tequila region of Mexico but mezcal can be produced anywhere in the country, although it is typically produced in the Oaxaca region.
How are they made?
Both distilled spirits are made from agave, but tequila must be made from a certain type—blue Weber agave—and it can only be produced in the state of Jalisco and some parts of Guanajuato, Michoacán, Nayarit, and Tamaulipas. It's made by steaming the heart (or piña) of the agave plant in above-ground ovens and then distilling the liquid in copper pots. You can read more about this in our post called What is Agave and How is it Transformed into Tequila?
Mezcal, on the other hand, can be made from more than 30 types of agave. Its signature smoky flavor comes from cooking the agave in underground pits, which are lined with hot rocks that burn for about 24 hours before the cooking process begins. This roasting caramelizes the magueys (or agave plants), which gives mezcal a rich, flavorful, savory and smoky taste. The underground roasting technique is another way mezcal is different from tequila, because tequila agaves aren’t cooked in the earth but steamed in above-ground ovens.
What about aging?
- Blanco or Silver: tequila that is bottled immediately after distillation or aged for fewer than two months in stainless steel or neutral oak barrels
- Joven: mezcal that is bottled immediately after distillation or aged for fewer than two months
- Reposado: tequila or mezcal that's been “rested” in oak for a minimum of two months but less than a year in oak barrels
- Añejo: tequila or mezcal that's been “aged” for between one and three years in oak barrels
- Extra Añejo: “extra aged” tequila or mezcal that's been aged for a minimum of three years in oak barrels
So basically, tequila is a type of mezcal. Now, which of our mezcal’s would you like to try?
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