Is mezcal better than tequila? Isn’t tequila the better one? Doesn’t tequila have a worm? Hold on doesn’t mezcal have the worm?
Is any of this important?
My love for tequila and mezcal is boundless, I’ve been writing, drinking and running masterclasses on these spirits for ages now. Frankly if I had to pick one spirit to spend the next two years learning everything I can, it’d be mezcal.
But what’s the difference and how do you make sure you are buying one that’s not only enjoyable to drink, but won’t give you a hangover?
Here’s the key elements that separate the two agave spirits of Mexico:
Tequila is limited to a few regions around Jalisco and must contain blue agave as their only agave source. It can be bottled in other countries under other labels and even cut with neutral alcohol. Many tequila labels share the same distilleries and all tequilas use steam processing to get the fermentable sugars out of the agave.
Mezcal comes mainly from Oxaca but can come from a number of regions with different agave species and climates sometimes being a blend of various agaves. It must be bottled in Mexico and is usually made on a smaller scale and almost every label has it’s own distillery. Some mezcals are exceptionally smokey due to the agave being roasted with coals or waste fires rather than steamed.