Mezcal is an umbrella term for any spirit distilled from Mexican agave plants, technically making tequila a mezcal. However, the drink we know as ‘mezcal’ is differs from tequila in three main ways:
It is made from a wide variety of agave plants
While tequila is made exclusively from cultivated blue agave, Mezcal can be made from all sorts of agaves. These include ‘Silvestre‘ agaves, which are foraged from the wild, or the famous ‘Smallsword‘ agave plant. One of the rarest and most sought after varietals is the ‘Tepextate‘ agave, which grows wild in the highlands and can take up to 35 years to mature. Tepextate’s distinct herbal flavours feature prominently in our Del Maguey Wild Tepextate Single Village Mezcal, so savour its flavour by scoring your own bottle.
While tequila is produced by roasting the hearts of blue agaves in brick ovens before macerating them, mezcal is marked by a much more traditional roasting process. Mezcal makers cook the hearts, or ‘Piñas‘, of the agaves in traditional earthen pits, often filled with wood and charcoal to give a much smokier flavour than tequila. While tequila is distilled in conventional copper stills, the distillation of mezcal often follows ancient methods passed down by oral tradition. One of the most famous (or infamous) methods of making mezcal is that behind the kind know as ‘Pechuga‘. In this case, wild plums and highland apples are added to the still, along with an entire raw chicken breast to balance the fruity flavour. If you’re curious about this unbelievable method, why not add our Del Maguey Pechuga Single Village Mezcal to your collection?
It is often unaged
While tequila can be categorised by one of three age rankings, mezcal is often only found in the white, or ‘Blanco‘, ranking. This is because it was traditionally crafted only to coincide with special occasions, and the tradition continues because of concerns that ageing would alter mezcal’s raw character. Subsequently, the intense flavours of fruit, honey and spice are unaffected by cask-ageing, giving mezcal a noticeably natural taste. If you need such a spirit to stand out on our shelf, we recommend Del Maguey San Luis Del Rio Single Village Mezcal.
Of course, there are millions of miniscule differences between mezcal and tequila, and dozen of delicious varieties of this ancient spirit to savour. Explore them for yourself by browsing our range.