And it’s only getting hotter!
“Agave Spirits are really really hot right now. Mezcals, Agave spirits, that’s probably the number one [spirit on the market] right now.”Chris Adams, CEO Ellis Adams Group, Mixologist and Hospitality Icon and Millennial Competition Spirits Judge
So what is it about mezcal that makes it so sought out? Let’s dive into what it is and how it’s made its way to fame.
Mezcal is an agave based spirit. Just as it is a common saying “Champagne is sparkling wine, but not all Sparking wine is Champagne,” the same goes for tequila and mezcal. All tequila, is mezcal, but not all mezcal is tequila. Learn more about tequila from our tequila blog.
Mezcal is made from specific types of agave (or maguey which is the local term). Some of the most common varieties used are espadín, tobalá, tobaziche, tepeztate and arroqueño. It is specifically produced in nine regions of Mexico. You can find mezcal being produced in Oaxaca, Durango, Guanajuato, Guerrero, San Luis Potosi, Tamaulipas, Michoacán, Puebla and Zacatecas. Oaxaca is the most popular region to make mezcal. If it is not from one of those regions, it cannot be considered mezcal.
“Mezcal wasn’t super popular in the states until 6-7 years ago…the history behind it is so beautiful.”Amanda Sasser, Mixologist, Bar Owner CanTiki and Millennial Competition Spirits Judge.
Just like how many specific wines have regulated production, Mezcal is regulated as well. The body of government that regulates mezcal production is the Consejo Regulador del Mezcal (CRM). The CRM determines the types of agave, regions of productions, classified styles, and methods of production. Mezcalerias wanted to make sure they were getting credit for their production. Many distillation plants were creating mixtos which were combinations of distilled agave, corn, and grain products. So the CRM created rules and guidelines for production and eventually labeling to make sure only true mezcal was labeled as such.
How is Mezcal Made?
Both tequila and mezcal use the heart of the agave called the piña. But after that, production is quite different. While for tequila production, distillers continue to steam the plant in ovens prior to distilling it, mezcal distillers roast the piñas in pits lined with lava rocks, charcoal and wood before distilling it. Now it’s starting to make sense why mezcal is smokier right?
Can you Age Mezcal?
Just like tequila, mezcal has aging and classification. Joven is the first classification, which means “young” in Spanish. Joven mezcals are between 0 to 2 months of aging. Next is Reposado which is 2-12 months of aging. Finally, we have Añejo which is at least one year of aging.
So now you know a little about mezcal, would you try it?
Written by Amanda Greenbaum