Mezcal vs. Tequila:
Both Tequila and Mezcal start with mature agave as it’s sugar source for fermentation. They are then roasted and this is where the 2 spirits begin to become very different. We have included a chart below to highlight the differences in production and also style differences.
Varietals of agave, or “maguey” used in Mezcal production:
1. Espadín: This accounts to for more than 90% of mezcal production and is the most common agave.
2. Tobalá: Deemed as the “king of mezcals” this particular variety is very rare and harvested from the wild!
3. Tobaziche: This agave is harvested from the wild and can make herbaceous and savory mezcal.
4. Tepeztate: This agave takes up to 30 years to reach maturity. This obviously means good luck finding any and probably not the best choice for cocktails.
5. Arroqueño: The mezcal made from this plant is floral, vegetal and often have a spicy, bitter chocolate note.
Mezcal usually has a smoke element to the spirit that will persist into the final distillate. Mezcal can feature a wide variety of flavors based on the fact that many different types of agave are allowed for production. They can be light and fruity with a touch of smoke or they can be dominated by the smoky nature of it’s roasting process. On the other hand Tequila tends to be much more focused on the cooked agave flavor of the Blue Weber Agave. You can expect brighter citrus notes, fruit characteristics, pepper notes and a vegetal component from most Tequilas.
You can use Mezcal for creating cocktails, but it is typically much more expensive than Tequila. Try substituting half of the tequila in your cocktail with Mezcal to add an additional layer of complexity. The brand that I’ve had a lot of success with in the past with Del Maquey’s Vida, both in price and in quality.
I hope you learned a lot from this post and let us know what Mezcal recipes you have tried!